Review: “Belladonna,” Anne Bishop

Pros: Fascinating world-building; great new character
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Belladonna (Ephemera, Book 2) comes after Sebastian, a book I certainly enjoyed. If anything I liked Belladonna even better.

The lands of the world have been fragmented and scattered. Only Landscapers can make changes to these landscapes, and only Bridges can establish connections between them. Some lands are darker or lighter than others; a good Landscaper frequently walks her lands, adjusting them here and there and making sure the people are safe and well. Now that the Eater of the World has escaped its prison, however, some landscapes are changing at record speed. Suspicion and anger rule those places, and it’s becoming less and less safe to leave one’s house. In some areas the Eater just brings out all the worst in the people already there. In others, it sends its monsters in to rend and tear.

Glorianna Belladonna is a Landscaper–and more than that. She is capable of resonating with both light and dark landscapes of the right varieties, and because of that she was declared rogue. Of course, that was before most of the remaining Landscapers were trapped and killed by the Eater. A combination of old tales makes it clear that Belladonna is expected to put an end to the reign of terror created by the Eater, but it’s going to be even harder to let go of her old life now that she is falling in love with Michael. He’s a musician, and has acted as Landscaper for a handful of realms without ever knowing or understanding exactly what it was he was doing. Belladonna needs to teach him to care for the lands, while she prepares herself for battle against the Eater.


Glorianna and Michael make a wonderful romantic team-up. They’re both strong and stubborn, but Michael’s relaxed nature makes a great complement to Belladonna’s more intense emotions.

Michael is a great way to show how not all Landscapers are the same, and not all of them even necessarily know what it is they’re doing. It’s a nice contrast to the school for Landscapers in Sebastian. Belladonna also does I think the best job I’ve ever seen of explaining why it is that ‘Light’ and ‘Dark’ need each other, and how that works. That alone fascinates me and makes the plot sing.

We get to see some of our favorite characters from Sebastian return. In particular, Sebastian and Lee play a part in events. Everyone is involved, however, from Lynnea to Nadia. There are new side characters to add to the chaos of things, such as Michael’s sister Caitlin, their aunt Brighid, and so on. Since Michael and Caitlin don’t understand how Landscaping works, we get a much better look at how vulnerable landscapes can be to changing at the whim of a Landscaper’s heart–how this can be a good thing, and how it can truly screw things up.

I’m looking forward to reading book three!

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