The Foxglove King (The Nightshade Crown, #1) ♦ Hannah Whitten | Review
With The Foxglove King, Hannah Whitten heralds her brand-new trilogy The Nightshade Crown. This first volume features necromancy power, royal intrigues at every corner, an impending magical threat, and a love triangle in between. I really enjoyed reading The Foxglove King, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it one of my all-time favorite books.
Author: Hannah Whitten
Series: The Nightshade Crown #1
Publisher: Orbit, published on 01. Mär 2023
Genre: Adult, Adventure, Dark Fantasy, High Fantasy, Magic, Retelling
Purchased at: FairyLoot
Buy here: Amazon
Link to Goodreads
In this lush, romantic new epic fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Hannah Whitten, a young woman's secret power to raise the dead plunges her into the dangerous and glamorous world of the Sainted King's royal court.
When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city.
Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan. Entire villages on the outskirts of the country have been dying overnight, seemingly at random. Lore can either use her magic to find out what’s happening and who in the King’s court is responsible, or die.
Lore is thrust into the Sainted King’s glittering court, where no one can be believed and even fewer can be trusted. Guarded by Gabriel, a duke-turned-monk, and continually running up against Bastian, August’s ne’er-do-well heir, Lore tangles in politics, religion, and forbidden romance as she attempts to navigate a debauched and opulent society.
But the life she left behind in the catacombs is catching up with her. And even as Lore makes her way through the Sainted court above, they might be drawing closer than she thinks.
Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor just a bit more power…and the price might be your very soul.
The Foxglove King ♦ Hannah Whitten
The Foxglove King follows Lore, the main character, as she discovers that she is a strong necromancer in a culture that has prejudices against death magic, also known as Mortem. Through unfortunate circumstances she’s summoned to the Sainted King’s palace to assist in solving an issue — entire communities are being destroyed by an ominous power. Lore is supposed to use Mortem to bring the dead villagers back to life so that they can be questioned about the circumstances of their demise.
She is joined by Gabriel, a monk of the Presque Mort, a kind of religious group. He is to guard her and act as her distant relative at the court of Augustus, the Sainted King. In the course of the story, Lore repeatedly runs into the crown prince, Bastian, which leads to a kind of love triangle. But this is absolutely irrelevant to the plot, which is why I wouldn’t call it a romance book. On the other hand which I really liked, the gothic dark fantasy elements predominate and give the book a mysterious touch.
I had a little trouble getting into the story at first. I found the Mortem explanation very confusing at first, until the power of Spiritum came along. Kind of a Ying/Yan balance that added more spice to the plot. But once in the story, I was trapped in the magical system of this world, where a ton of magic are connected to both life and death. In essence, those who have had a near-death experience, such as the Presque Mort members, have the potential to manipulate Mortem, or the power of death. Spiritum, a type of life magic, is far more challenging to master. Obviously, Spiritum has a much stronger grip on beings than death.
The world building is a little lacking, save from the magic system, which heavily permeated the court intrigues. Whitten provides just enough information about the political framework, social structure, and religion. The result was a dull and uninspired feeling about the world. Even while the plot held my attention, I never had a strong urge to venture further into Whitten’s universe. The backdrop, which felt like any other clichéd medieval-style fantasy world out there, didn’t make me feel at home. From time to time, the author added a few brief bits of information about the surrounding world, which was enough for me personally, since the plot focused on the palace and the surrounding city anyway. Maybe I’ll find out more in the following volumes.
Thankfully, a compelling main character helps to partially offset the poor world building. Lore is a heroine I could easily sympathize with, and she comes around as a strong female character without really being one. Whitten gave her flaws but also confidence with her own sexuality and choice. Although she has a limited amount of character development, she is sufficiently powerful enough to carry the readers through the plot. As with world building, I hope that the characters will grow in the next few books. Because Gabriel and Bastian could use a little more depth as well.
Hannah Whitten’s The Foxglove King is a perfectly serviceable dark fantasy novel with an entertaining and fast-paced plot. Most of the time, you don’t even realize how dull the protagonists and the world building are because the plot advances rather quickly.
The Nightshade Crown – The Series
|The Foxglove King (#1)||unbekannter Titel (#2)|
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other opinions on the book:
I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this as much as you hoped! Given that it’s the first book of a trilogy (I think it’s a trilogy?), hopefully the world building will provide the reader with more information as we learn more about the world in which Lore is a part of. As I just replied to you in my own review, I liked the love triangle and wish it was more prominent in THE FOXGLOVE KING. You’re right, though, in that it didn’t really add anything to the plot. Again, maybe in the next book!
Oh, I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy it that much, but I did hope for more world building even though it wasn’t necessary for the plot in general.
Still the book in its whole was convincing, and I am already curious how the whole Mortem/Spiritum thingy will develop.