Belladonna by Adalyn Grace – Review
By Sandra Callard
A young girl, Signa, is orphaned and sent to live with relatives in a wealthy home. When she comes of age she begins to realise she has super powers and can talk to an entity called ‘Death’, and with whom she becomes friendly. She tries to use said powers kindly – but Death has other plans for her.
However, Signa is a fighter and already knows that she is not a normal girl and has the power to stand up to him, but when another girl who lives in the house, Blythe, becomes dangerously ill, it seems clear that somebody has poisoned her. Signa takes things into her own hands, and the question is, “who is trying to kill the girl” and how will Signa combat it?
Such is the improbable-sounding scenario for Belladonna, US author Adalyn Grace’s latest novel – a book which I feel will split readers as the plot sways between boredom and fascination and the two main characters of Signa and Death come across as either compelling beings or utterly unbelievable. For me, the character of Signa is beautifully sketched and stands out as a pure original, with Death slowly becoming an interesting and even pleasant personality. Some may even say sexually alluring.
Signa is hell bent on saving the young girl from death, and will go to extreme ends to facilitate this, but in doing so the story becomes somewhat ragged as it gets more confusing as the pace quickens. There is continual yo-yoing between Signa making headway and Death demolishing it, which quickly becomes tiresome, but strangely enough the text can suddenly blossom into glory, with some brilliant writing making the reader forgive the unlikely narrative.
The book is long and seems to occasionally dwell on a theme for too long, or even repeat words or actions too much. Again, this is somewhat annoying, but the author has that knack of pulling the reader back in again with a sudden and unexpected twist to the story.
Signa is in touch with the spirits of the dead and the full and normal conversations that ensue force a suspension of disbelief, but the book is certainly unusual and does compel the reader on to discover the denouement of this strange tale – and that in itself is no bad thing.
Adalyn Grace is a new name to me, but her writing skills are obvious and it is worth watching out for more of her work to see if she is always a devotee of the supernatural, or if her skills also cover something more outwardly mundane. I’d be very interested to read it.
‘Belladonna’ by Adalyn Grace is published by Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99 hardback