by Adalyn Grace
Publication Date: August 30, 2022
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her wellbeing – and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy.
Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger, and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.
Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer, though, is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful – and more irresistible – than she ever dared imagine.
A reluctant 3 stars. I bought this because I got sucked in by a pretty cover, and all the elements were there to make an interesting story: murders, poison, Death as a character, ghosts, and while it was technically written well enough to merit three stars, I didn’t find much to like about it. Some YA is written so well that it’s ageless, but this isn’t one of those YA’s. There’s a complete lack of sophistication to the writing, and the story should have been edited into a much tighter structure. The mystery was good though – the author totally plotted murder and attempted murder without me having a clue.
The reason I wouldn’t recommend this book though, is I personally found the MC ridiculous. Yes, she had a very difficult life, being shuffled from one guardian to another, all of whom were only interested in her money and treated her terribly. Yes, she’s lonely. Neither is an excuse for her childish behaviour or her lack of self. 75% of the book is all about her wanting to look pretty and act pretty and attract a husband so that she can join society – because then they’ll have to like her. She’s 19, she has the powers of Death himself, and she’s an idiot. She has her great awakening in the last 25% of the book, where she suddenly decides to hell with conventions and to just be herself, which was both entirely too late coming, and entirely too unbelievable.
A very average book with a weak MC. All in all, a waste of a gorgeous cover.