If you want a book that feels like For the Wolf, Furyborn, and The Wolf and the Woodsman mixed together, read The Foxglove King!
Synopsis: Adapted from Goodreads
The Foxglove King follows Lore, a poison runner and spy who has also happens to be a necromancer. When one of her runs goes wrong and Lore is caught, she is sent to Presque Mort, a group of monks sanctioned to use Mortem, or death magic, and work for the Sainted King. When entire villages on the outskirts of the country start dying overnight, seemingly at random, Lore is blackmailed by the King into figuring out why.
Thrown into court, Lore must work together with Gabriel, a duke-turned-monk, and Bastian, the prince, in order to save both herself and more villages from dying.
This book is dark and gritty, with an almost renaissance yet gothic feel to it. When I read Whitten’s For the Wolf, I fell in love with her writing style and snarky characters. And I’m happy to say that her writing and characterization have improved! Lore is a no-nonsense type of character. Gabe has a good heart but a tortured past (and, you know, he’s a monk). And Bastian is hilarious and snarky. Often, the banter between the characters is a welcome comedic relief, yet it manages to fit into the dark setting.
As for worldbuilding, I was impressed! The worldbuilding feels well-fleshed out, and I like how Whitten describes the use of Mortem and how Lore can control it. The religion itself reminds me of the religion in The Wolf and the Woodsman, which also uses body horror in tandem with religion.
I was hooked on the story from the beginning, and I loved the vibes and all of elements. My only main critique is that Gabriel/Gabe, who only has one eye, is described as only having one eye literally on every other page in the first half of the novel. I feel like having a handful of meaningful descriptions of Gabe would’ve been more impactful than being hit over the head with them. However, in the grand scheme of things, obviously this didn’t impact my feelings about the rest of the book.
Overall, if you’re looking for a gritty adult fantasy with court politics, flawed and interesting characters, a small dash of romance, religious trauma, and plenty of death magic, then you might like this one! I’m looking forward to the sequel.