Photo of Author Adalyn Grace next to a cover of her book Foxglove

Adalyn Grace Talks Death, Fate, and Inspiration in ‘Belladonna’ Sequel ‘Foxglove’

Bestselling author Adalyn Grace‘s highly anticipated Belladonna sequel, Foxglove, has finally arrived. Belladonna was an instant hit that captivated audiences with its unique blend of gothic romance and mystery. It’s far from Grace’s first hit, as she is also the author of New York Times bestseller All the Stars and Teeth and its sequel All the Tides of Fate.

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However, Belladonna opened readers to an entirely new and delightful world about one girl who simply can’t escape Death. Signa Farrow makes a remarkable heroine as a girl born amid Death, followed by Death for 19 years, and with the ability to see and talk to spirits. As much as she tries to distance herself from Death and his world, she finds he may be the only key to helping her get to the bottom of a mysterious murder and series of poisonings that threaten her newfound family, the Hawthornes.

Foxglove reveals that the mystery isn’t over yet. Signa and Death return in the sequel and are confronted with an even trickier murder mystery than before. Additionally, this time around, they are joined by another mysterious deity—Fate. Grace recently spoke to The Mary Sue over e-mail about her second thrilling installment in the Belladonna series.

The origins of Foxglove

Belladonna ends on a cliffhanger that simply begs for another installment to the series. However, the ending of Belladonna was initially very different, as Grace didn’t set out to make Signa’s and Death’s story into a series. She explained, “I originally sold Belladonna on proposal, meaning that I had an outline and small sample of just a few chapters and that I would finish writing once we had a publisher on board. In that proposal, I did present the story as a standalone, and it originally had a very different ending for Death and Signa’s story! However, once I actually dove into writing the full book, I realized less than halfway through that there was so much more of the world and characters that I wanted to explore.”

Ultimately, Blythe and Death deserve the most credit for inspiring a sequel. “Blythe Hawthorne, in particular, was one of the characters who really felt like there was more to explore,” Grace wrote. “I also thought that if Death was real in this world, then surely there must be some other deities as well, which made me want to dive deeper!” Blythe is Farrow’s cousin in the series, and it can’t be denied there’s something special about her. She retaliates against the customs of the time period, maintaining her spunk and independence, while also fostering a connection with Farrow that is palpable.

While her story takes some surprising twists and turns, Grace revealed she already knew Blythe’s story arc after Belladonna‘s first draft, hence, all that she needed was more books. She wrote, “I just needed to get my team on board with allowing me the number of books I wanted to write to be able to fully tell everyone’s story. Fortunately, I was, and I’m very grateful to them and to the readers who have supported the series enough to make that possible. I really hope that everyone who reads loves Blythe as much as I do.”

What Blythe and Fate add to the Belladonna sequel

Blythe’s influence on Foxglove can be seen quite plainly, considering part of the story is told from her perspective, which is a departure from the sole Signa perspective in Belladonna. Of the decision to add Blythe’s perspective, Grace wrote, “I felt that the story itself really needed her perspective. There’s so much going on in Foxglove—there are new characters, locations, and arcs, and I felt that an additional perspective was important to be able to see multiple sides of the story to help flesh out the mystery. Apart from that, Blythe’s role has grown immensely since Belladonna. She didn’t get to have a large role in the first story because she spent so much of the book struggling to live. And now that she has, I thought it was only fair to get to explore what her life looks like now and to introduce readers to her story.”

In addition to Blythe’s point of view being added to Foxglove, the second biggest change in the sequel is the entrance of Fate. While Fate is the brother of Death, the pair are very different. Meanwhile, these differences were intentional and might even hint at more deities floating around the Belladonna universe. Grace explained,

I really wanted Fate to act as a foil for Death. Fate has so much that his brother wants—he can be seen, he can touch without killing and interact with the normal world, he’s spectacularly charming and enigmatic—and yet it’s Fate who despises Death so greatly. In creating Fate’s character, I also wanted to show that the deities in this world are not all the same; they have very different powers, roles to play, and personalities. Settling on him as opposed to another deity was a very natural process. I briefly toyed with the idea of two others (though I won’t spoil those in case I ever use them), but Fate always felt like the obvious choice as he feels like a natural foil to Death. He weaves the fates of the living and considers each person his personal masterpiece. And then Death, of course, takes everyone from him. They have an interesting dynamic.

The meaning of Foxglove

I was also intrigued by the title of Foxglove, given that Grace intertwines a bit of botany in her novels. In Belladonna, belladonna berries are the poison at the center of the murder mystery. Meanwhile, Foxglove was the name of Signa’s estate but is also the name of another poisonous plant. Hence, I went into the book wondering which Foxglove the title was referring to and if another deadly plant played a role in the murders. Cyanide is ultimately revealed to be the culprit in the murder early on, though, and there’s a reason for that.

Grace explained, “Cyanide was a very popular poison in the Victorian era! I imagined that foxglove would be much more difficult to identify, and the mystery of Foxglove isn’t necessarily how the duke died, but who killed him. I wanted to focus more on that element of the mystery, so I chose a poison that was much more easily identifiable. While belladonna itself did play an important role in the first book, Foxglove doesn’t feature the actual plant quite so heavily. That said, the title is still very relevant, and I’m sure that savvy readers can guess why if they’ve read Belladonna!

Indeed, although foxglove isn’t the poisonous plant at the center of a murder mystery, there’s a reason why the mysterious estate where Signa first met Death is referenced in the title, and readers will just have to read Foxglove to learn how it fits into her story.

(featured image: Adalyn Grace / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.