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The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten

The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten is one of those novels I thoroughly enjoyed, but I am struggling to explain why I did. I don’t know why words fail me for this one. The characters are feisty and complicated. The plot seems simple but is much more complex than it seems. The story contains lots of witty banter, twists, life-and-death situations, magic, death, power struggles, secrets, and even revenants. Really, what more do you need in a story?

Lore is one of those main characters that automatically garners your sympathy. A girl forced to hide her power, making ends meet through illicit methods, finds herself at the mercy of the king and the religious order that rules just as much as the king. Thrust into the unfamiliar and high-stakes world, but with the sass and skepticism that come with living on the streets, you can’t help but admire her spirit. Your admiration for her is genuine if only because the plucky heroine with surprising talents is one trope that never grows old.

Because Lore isn’t anything without a foil, Ms. Whitten gives us not one but two perfect characters against whom she can match wits. Bastian and Gabriel are nothing alike, yet you cannot help but love them equally. Gabriel tears out your heart with his tale of woe, while Bastian, well, Bastian has the opposite effect on your heart. Sexy and sly, you know he has an angle, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t worm your way into your heart just as much as Gabriel does with his sob story. There is most definitely an entire story we are missing as Lore finds herself torn between the two, but half the fun of The Foxglove King is watching the verbal sparring and romantic sparks fly between them.

The Foxglove King is not all fun and games, though. Any story revolving around death magic is not going to be a happy or wholesome one. Lore’s life has been difficult, and Ms. Whitten spares no reader’s sensibilities when ensuring we understand that. The same applies to the descriptions of city living versus life inside the court. Ms. Whitten does not shy away from highlighting the stark differences between life in Dellaire and within the Sainted court. One could even say that she uses The Foxglove King and Lore to make some very pointed statements about the U.S.’s severe wealth gap, whether that was her intent. Even if she did not mean to do so, her depiction of the haves and the have-nots through Lore’s eyes is compelling yet heartbreaking.

The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten is an excellent story with a little of everything. It is darker than some readers may like, but it also has plenty of heat to ease the darkness or create a different tension. 😉 Lore is sassy but vulnerable, and her magic is as horrifying as you would think death magic would be. At the same time, there is something weirdly fascinating about an entire civilization that celebrates death and actively courts it through recreational poison usage. Lore’s story is anything but over at the end of The Foxglove King, and that is a good thing because I want to learn more about this dark and unusual world and continue to see how Bastian’s, Gabriel’s, and Lore’s little triangle fares.

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