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.
4,5 stars and 5 stars for the cover
I was totally surprised when I got The Foxglove King from Orbit but also very intrigued and seduced by the lush cover!
I won’t lie: the first chapter and pages were a little bit disorienting as we are plunged in a brand new magical world and we have to take everything in stride. There is no “setting “ of the world but rather piecing it back together slowly while accompanying Lore in her journey.
That was not bad but I had tons of questions and my notes went like: “Lore is a mystery and the beginning a riddle. We learnt about her and about the world as we go.”
Then “She came from the catacombs? Burned in her palm at age thirteen. Raised after by Val and Mari?? “
As you can see I was puzzled, certainly even more when I read the word “Mortem” for the first time and tried to figure out WHAT was it that Lore sensed! Was it death? Something else?
In the end I settled for an explanation of Mortem being in all “not alive” things like rocks for example and of course, the dead.
But slowly unraveling the world didn’t deter me from loving the book!
In The Foxglove King, we open with Lore who is a spy for poison runners and has a strange gift where she sense and can manipulate Mortem. In her country people use poison such as Belladonna and Foxglove as a drug but also hoping to increase their life’s span even if the toll it takes on the body is not pretty. Lore also lives in the poor district of the city and we learn that she has been rescued at 13 by her moms.
When a run turns bad, she is captured by the Presque Mort and their chief Anton. She should either be sent to the Burnt Isles or be killed but instead is offered a deal by Anton and his twin brother August, the king: spy on Bastian, the sun Prince. She also has to help find what’s happening in whole villages that are decimated overnight.
All being under guard of Gabriel or Gabe a duke turned monk who will give her the alibi of introducing her to the court for her debut and get a chance at getting close to Bastien.
From that start, it will be attraction to Gabe AND Bastien, mysteries to solve, dangerous stints in illegal boxing rings or dangerous catacombs.
Lore’s powers are growing with her nearing her birthday and she doesn’t understand what is happening.
Mixing politics and religion, the atmosphere is gothic and a little bit oppressive with the threat of Lore’s demise dangling above her head, the villagers dying and her strange growing power.
I also wondered who to trust. Literally. Because so many characters have a hidden agenda. I also wondered if Anton truly had a vision or if it was a scam.
And why did Lore feel like she knew Gabe and Bastian from “before”? What did that mean?
Lore is a pawn in that game and she is also trapped between Gabe and Bastian who are antagonists and wait just for a spark to explode.
This is a very imaginative and rich universe, with a totally new magic system and supported by a great cast of morally grey characters. Don’t expect black or white here, everyone is flawed and has secrets to hide!
I was also hurt badly when someone I came to care for betrayed Lore but I won’t say more about it!
This is an excellent start to a brand new series and I know that I’ll read the sequel!
Thanks for reading.