March 07, 2023

The Foxglove King

By Hannah Whitten
Review by
Hannah Whitten gained a following with her Wilderwood duology, and the perfectly balanced Foxglove King proves that her success was not a fluke.
Share this Article:

When you get home from a stressful day at work, do you kick back with a nice cold beer? Or do you prefer hemlock tea? In Hannah Whitten’s The Foxglove King, poisons are drugs that produce a potent magical high. Full of courtly intrigue, smart characters and will-they-won’t-they romance, The Foxglove King is a heady concoction that will satiate anyone looking for an absorbing new fantasy world.

Lore is a poison dealer in the city of Dellaire, and she has a huge secret: She was born into a cult of death-worshipping witches. After she escaped as an adolescent, she swore she’d never let the witches find her again. It’s easy to hide in Dellaire’s underground, but it’s a lot harder to hide when you’re arrested by the soldier-monks of the Presque Mort for dealing poison and forced to serve the Sainted King in his court. Trapped, Lore must use her street smarts to investigate a series of terrible attacks on border towns across the kingdom. To top it off, she’s right in the middle of a tense feud between the king’s son, Bastian, and her Presque Mort guardian, Gabriel. It’s going to take all of Lore’s cunning and skill to survive the court and uncover the mystery behind the attacks.

The Foxglove King is built on opposites: death magic versus life magic, wealth versus poverty, pain versus pleasure and truth versus fiction. But what makes this book so fascinating is Whitten’s willingness to subvert expectations. Sometimes, diametrically opposed forces work better together than against each other. Such is the case with Bastian and Gabriel. Former friends, these very different men become more complex characters over the course of the narrative, each one enriched and challenged by Lore. The love triangle among them adds texture but never distracts from the central storyline. 

Medieval-adjacent fantasy societies can feel stuffy and ancient, but Whitten cannily avoids this trap. Her characters speak with a modern sensibility, which makes the story accessible and often heightens the tension. Lore is a fun guide throughout, snarky and confident one moment, vulnerable and thoughtful the next. Her depth and complexity as a protagonist bode well for future entries in the Nightshade Crown series, with Whitten skillfully tying Lore’s background into the reveals about the broader universe and its unique, dangerous and more than a little creepy magic system. (A dead god buried deep under the city is leaking death magic that infects everything in Dellaire? Rad.) 

Whitten’s already gained a following with her Wilderwood duology, and the perfectly balanced Foxglove King proves that her success was not a fluke.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

The Foxglove King

The Foxglove King

By Hannah Whitten
ISBN 9780316434997

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.