Romantic, gothic and unerringly atmospheric, Adalyn Grace’s 2022 YA fantasy novel, Belladonna, was the paranormal romance murder mystery we didn’t know we needed in our life an it’s safe to say the wait for its sequel, Foxglove, has been a painful one. But after devouring it over one glorious weekend, Foxglove proved itself to be one hundred perfect worth counting down the days for, which is why we’re thrilled to have had the chance to chat to Adalyn all about it.
Hi Adalyn! I’m so excited to get to chat to you today about your newest release, Foxglove, the highly anticipated (and totally worth that wait) sequel to your 2022 YA fantasy novel, Belladonna. Before we get into Foxglove, can you give us a series elevator pitch of sorts for readers who may just be hearing of it?
Absolutely! I always pitch the series as Gothic Bridgerton meets Knives Out. It’s a Gothic-infused romantic murder mystery about a girl who can see spirits, and who is forced to team up with Death himself to solve a murder in an eerie Victorian manor. And, of course, the two end up catching feelings for each other throughout the process.
The sequel, Foxglove, adds a heaping helping of drama into the world with the arrival of Death’s estranged brother, Fate, who has vengeance on the mind. The sequel definitely has some Vampire Diaries paranormal sibling rivalry vibes.
As well as being brilliantly fun and atmospheric reads, Belladonna and Foxglove both have such an intriguing and unique take on the concepts of Death and Fate. Can you tell us a little about your inspirations behind the series and its story?
Thank you! I wrote Belladonna during a very scary time. Several people in my life died while I was working on the book, and we were also in the thick of Covid with vaccines still far from sight. Because of everything happening in the world there were no funerals for lost family members, and watching the news or logging on to social media made it feel like everyone everywhere was just dying. I feel like writing Death’s character was cathartic in a way. The biggest mystery in life is what happens when you die, and there are so many different beliefs. I wanted to explore all those possibilities, as well as the different sides of death. It’s not always a scary, tragic thing. Sometimes it’s softer, quiet moments, and exploring the idea of grief and death throughout the book was very soothing in a way. Death was a character who came at a good time for me, and of course I had fun with the romantic aspects as well and getting to play in a world where he could be a romantic interest.
Originally this book was meant to be a standalone, but I kept thinking that if Death existed in this world, then surely there had to be other deities. Then I got to imagining what those deities might be like, and how they would interact. I imagined what their magic might be like, and from there the story kept building and I quickly realized that the world and the story was much bigger than I had anticipated. Fate was mostly built to be a foil for Death, but I’ve always loved sibling dynamics in stories, especially between competitive paranormal brothers. His magic is very different, and it’s been a lot of fun to get to explore and flesh out throughout the series.
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Belladonna has a single person narrative, whereas Foxglove introduces a second perspective. What was it like going from initially writing singularly from Signa’s POV to having to dive into the mind of another character?
It was certainly a challenge to figure out how to balance the different storylines, but Blythe’s character is just so fun to write. I always have a blast with her, so from that standpoint it was very easy. Overall, however, this book was far more challenging to write than Belladonna, as there are far more characters and various threads to balance, and it’s such a blend of various genres. To tell the story that I wanted to tell, adding Blythe’s point of view was mandatory, and fortunately I figured out her voice very quickly. She’s very sharp, brazen, and delightfully witty in a way I had a blast with.
Foxglove introduces us to Fate, Death’s elusive yet charming brother. What inspired Fate’s character to manifest in the way that it did?
Fate was originally inspired by a mix of Howl Pendragon and Klaus Mikaelson. He’s changed quite a bit since that original conception, but ultimately, I wanted him to be a direct foil for Death. Someone who could be seen by humans and who gets to interact with them. Death is a quiet, softer character. Fate is far more prideful and arrogant. He’s a bit of a strutting peacock, really. Always ready to flaunt his feathers to try and impress someone.
If you found yourself in Signa’s position, e.g. having to communicate with literal Death in order to solve a murder mystery, how do you think you’d fare?
I think I’d be a lot more terrified! Although Signa always saw him whenever someone around her died, she and Death never had any direct interaction until she summons him as an adult. They’d never spoken, and yet the first thing she tries to do is stab him. She was desperate, yet, but I also feel like that’s an extraordinarily gutsy move. It’s hard to say what I’d do in her position, but I think Signa has such a strong backbone to have stood up to him, and I’m not sure that I would have shared her same tactics.
Just like Belladonna, Foxglove left me desperately wanting more from this world and its story in the best way possible. Is there anything you can share with us about Wisteria, book three in the series, to keep us going until its release?
That’s such a hard question to answer without spoiling, but I’m going to try! I think Wisteria is going to be a very magical and romantic story and will feel a bit different from the first two books in some very fun ways. Those who have finished Foxglove may be able to guess what’s coming next, and it’s been such a treat to write it. I’m still editing and working on the book, but I’m very excited to share in next year!
Get your copy of Foxglove by Adalyn Grace here.