10 Mar 2023

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE FOXGLOVE KING by Hannah F. Whitten

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Hannah F. Whitten
Series: The Nightshade Kingdom #1
Source: ARC via Publisher
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication Date: March 7, 2023

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.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

Content Warningsdeath of a child (off-page, though we see the aftermath and lots of time is spent with the body), parental abuse (emotional, physical), sexual content, adult language, religious abuse, animal death, some scenes that may be triggering to those with emetophobia, gore/violence (fairly severe), talk of child neglect and terminal illness.

I thought this was going to be my favourite read from this year but instead it's probably my biggest disappointment. It read a bit like the first Throne of Glass book, but with a main woman character who sorta knew what she was doing. I even appreciated the mystery plot in the background and the found family aspects throughout.

But then the ending was SO rushed and everything up until then was SO SLOW. It went from finding clues and learning how to use powers to a big confrontation in less than 10 pages. When a book is almost 500 pages, that's not how it should be.

It was also confusing because there was no explanation for why Bastian and Lore couldn't run away until Bastian mentioned it to Lore. It was just put in there as a throwaway line but ended up being more of the "wait, what?" than it needed to be. I just feel as though the ending of this wasn't as well thought out as the beginning, especially when there is more to the story still.

I do like the idea of this being more of an anti-hero story and that there are elements of this that take a darker look at things. I even didn't mind the quasi-Christian religion and the rites that they had everyone go through during this.

I thought the characters were kind of bland with only moments of shining through. It was so clear that this was set up to be a love triangle and that it wanted to mirror the first few Throne of Glass books SO badly. And I HATED those books but they still did that aspect better!

I was just so overwhelmed with how mundane and boring a lot of it was to only have it "resolve" so quickly. And even with the huge cliffhanger we're left with, I'm not scrambling to get the next book. I'm thinking about if I would even want to continue with this series at all.

Disappointed is probably an understatement here, but I just wanted so much more from this!

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

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