The Foxglove King – Fast Acting Poison

The Foxglove King CoverI wanted to DNF The Foxglove King by Hannah Whitten after 200 pages, but I powered through and finished the book for you, dear reader. As someone who highly rated both of Whitten’s previous books, For The Wolf and For The Throne, I am sad to say I forced myself to finish this lackluster tale. 

Lore has ingratiated herself with Michal, a local poison runner in Dellaire. This shady underground trade keeps poison running through the city, so citizens can dose themselves and get close to death in hopes of extending their lifespan. Working with Michal is the latest life Lore has taken on while spying for her foster moms, but she’s collected enough intel and is ready to move on to the next job. Before she can make a break for it, Lore gets called in to help with a poison drop happening during the festivities surrounding the Sun Prince’s Consecration. But when the drop goes sideways, Lore is forced to reveal a dark and disturbing power she’s hidden away, catching the attention of the Priest Exalted and the Sainted King. Lore will be forced to play courtier and unravel a plot behind the kingdom’s recent mass killings while a war with a neighboring kingdom looms. 

The plot and character foundation in The Foxglove King was flimsy, and it made it impossible to buy into the story. I constantly felt as if the book told me one thing, but the opposite would happen or it would be poorly executed. For instance, Lore has literally spent her entire life spying in the poison-running trade. It’s a major plot point and one of the reasons why she is blackmailed into spying on the prince. But as I read on, I discovered that Lore is quite literally the worst spy I have ever encountered. It’s not even as if we’re made to believe her skills weren’t up to par in the court. Whitten sold us on this spy element, but Lore failed to show anything for it. This was an ongoing issue in the book, and I found that a lot of the bones of this story were brittle. 

If the characters were shells of themselves it should come as no surprise that the relationships were even more lacking. Every interaction is forced and filled with awkward dialogue. Needless to say, I cringed. A lot. Our protagonists are a hot mess. I was treated to these grown adults making absolute fools of themselves as they threw out words and actions to see what would stick in the moment. They are flat and trope-y and follow their formula to a T. Whitten delicately built the trust between her protagonists in the Wilderwood series, but here it’s like forcing mismatched puzzle pieces to connect. The character development from the other series cannot be found in this book. It’s a shame because I have experienced Whitten work her magic before, and I desperately searched for that spark to no avail.

The Foxglove King tried to accomplish a lot in terms of worldbuilding, but again, the execution was not there. First, the book tries to establish the use of poison and how it can extend lives or totally degrade a person into an addict that turns to stone. This seems important at first but eventually gets pushed to the side and brought back as a plot device when needed. The story also hints at several gods who have fallen, but not much is revealed besides the two primary gods related to the sun and darkness. Everything we learn is primarily served via info dumping. There’s not a lot of mystery to be had. The secrets of the world are either told to the reader directly or delivered in such an obvious manner that there is no room for speculation. Subtly was not this story’s strong suit. 

This book had promising elements but ultimately the ideas were not executed well. I’ve dosed myself with enough poison after reading The Foxglove King and will let Lore carry on her journey without me. 

Rating: The Foxglove King – 4.0/10


I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.

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