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Book Review: Belladonna by Fiona Paul

Fiona Paul’s Belladonna brings to life the rich culture and intrigue of Italy.

Book Review: Belladonna by Fiona Paul

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Belladonna Fiona Paul

Title & Author: Belladonna (Secrets of the Eternal Rose) by Fiona Paul

Genre: YA Fantasy – Historical

Release Date: July 16, 2013

Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2

Publisher: Philomil

How I Got the Book: Via Publisher

Description:

“In Renaissance Italy, love, lust, intrigue and secret societies converge to stunning results!

In the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancé, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he’s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass’s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose—the only evidence that will prove he’s innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is working for the Order’s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?
Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.”

Art, Culture & Darkness

As they say, secrets don’t make friends. In Belladonna, that’s the biggest understatement ever because secrets make enemies and violence. In this sequel to Venom, Cass’ life is in shambles. Falco has left Venice to make a name for himself and Luca’s also in trouble. Geez this girl can pick em’, right?

As usual though, it’s up to Cass to pick up the pieces and make things right. To do so, she must travel to Florence and face off with the elusive Belladonna.

What’s interesting about this book is the change of scenery and the revelation of secrets. The story opened like a night-blooming flower, slow and delicate. At times, I felt things were dragging a bit, but the overall plot and sequence of events were definitely interesting.

Plus, Florence is gorgeous, and I loved all the descriptions and drama that unfolds there.

I also loved that more information is given about the Order of the Eternal Rose. Some super juicy details are uncovered, which gave me just a taste of what may come about in the final book. The gentle teasing is genius because I’m so hooked it’s ridiculous.

The only thing that wasn’t my favorite about the story was the romance. I think it was well done overall – not too pendulum-like (swinging wildly from one boy to another), but I still get the sense that not everything is resolved. While I understand the drama this creates, it’s a tad exhausting as the reader. I get attached to people!! And sometimes the more secrets that are revealed, the more you sway in who you are pulling for.

Also, I won’t reveal any spoilers, but a big thing happens at the end of the book that left me feeling frustrated. It seems unfair in the extreme, and if you want to chat with me about it after finishing Belladonna please message me. UGH!!!

One of the elements that most intrigues me about this book is the dynamic between the Church and the rebels. That’s where Belladonna really shines – it the juxtaposition of believing what you’re told by an supposedly infallible source and questioning what’s true and what’s a lie for yourself. Cass starts down this journey, and I’m very invested in her discoveries.

OVERALL:

Sequels are dangerous ground. They can be slow, overworked and boring. I was so thankful Belladonna avoided all of those pitfalls. It was exciting and full of surprises. I struggled a bit in the beginning but the pace picked up quickly. Belladonna is a strong follow up to Venom, and I CANNOT wait for the final book, Starling (out in March 2014!!).

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.