Friends, I wrote in my review of Venom that I was chomping at the bit for Belladonna, book two in Fiona Paul’s The Secrets Of The Eternal Rose series. I must have some kind of good karma in the bank because I got lucky enough to receive an early copy. I will be frank with you and say that I did not love Belladonna as much as I loved Venom. It just wasn’t something that I quickly inhaled. Don’t twist my words and take that as Belladonna is terrible or Belladonna suffers from book two syndrome, it isn’t and it does not. In fact, Belladonna was a pretty immersive reading experience and one that I am going to shout from the rooftops, especially for people who were fans of Venom.
Cass is trying to do the right thing and move on with her life after Falco. She’s desperately trying to forget him and to be happy with her fiancé, Luca. Yet, Falco is still on her brain. When Luca is arrested in the middle of the night and basically sentenced to execution, Cass has to do what she can to save him. This means going to Florence and seeing Falco again. Belladonna is a book where more secrets of the eternal rose come to light. Cass will meet a woman named Belladonna who is mysteriously good looking and also youthful looking for how old she actually is. It’s on Cass to find the Book Of The Eternal Rose and to set things back to rights. The blurb calls Belladonna a seductive thrilled, and my friends I would definitely have to agree.
I liked Cass’s growth as a character and her acknowledgment of her faults and how she is working to overcome them. Belladonna takes Cass into a good direction, at least from my viewpoint as a reader. I liked that she does not stagnate as a character. I liked that she’s not some perfect person, but really, truly feels human and teenage. BUT she’s also not super annoying and aggravating, which is one of those things that actually does matter to me when reading a young adult book.
The mood in Fiona Paul’s Belladonna is dark and well done, just the way I like it. I mean, this might as well be one of those quintessential fall afternoon books where you read it on the sofa with your blanket and your coffee or tea and just sink right into the drizzly Italian-set pages. There’s this whole darkness that pervades the plot, especially when you find out just what Belladonna’s deal is and the world of trouble Cass and Luca are in. I loved that this book just felt so heavy to me — with mood! The whole mythology thing and the intrigue are masterfully written as well.
As for the romance YOU GUYS! This never happens to me, but I actually strongly disliked Falco in Belladonna. I was on his team when I read Venom. In this book, I was on Luca’s team all the way. I feel like Luca is without pretense and thus more deserving of Cass’s affection. Falco was kind of a douche in this book. He’s just not steady like Luca and so, from my grown up perspective, I just don’t think it would make a good partner for Cass. So, hands down, I have switched sides and am now pro-Luca. Sorry Falco fans! If you’ve read this book, did you switch your love triangle alligence as well?
I was definitely a fan of this sequel by Fiona Paul. My only real complaint is that it seemed to take awhile to get to the action and the intrigue, but once we met Belladonna it was all good from there. Belladonna is deliciously sinful and bad and basically on the Malecifiant level of awesome villains. I’m so down for Starling the final book which comes out in MARCH omg, you guys cannot wait! Like I am at flaily arms excitement status.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher
Other reviews of Belladonna by Fiona Paul:
Birth Of A New Witch – “ups the stakes to every single extreme”
Lili’s Reflections – “Everything I hoped it would be and more”
Book Nerd Reviews – “the story itself appeals to a really wide audience”