cover image The Foxglove King

The Foxglove King

Hannah Whitten. Orbit, $29 (480p) ISBN 978-0-316-43499-7

This stunning fantasy from Whitten (For the Wolf) opens 500 years after Godsfall, when death goddess Nyxara died and all other gods followed, leaving Apollius, god of life, as the singular deity worshipped in Auverraine. The city of Dellaire sits atop Nyxara’s corpse, and a force known as Mortem, “the essence of death, the power born of entropy,” seeps from her body into the city. Those who have had near-death experiences can sense and channel this power, leading people to use poison like a drug to get close enough to death that they too can experience Mortem. Dellaire local Lore, 23, can’t quite remember the first 13 years of her life. All she knows is that she has the ability to channel Mortem, a power she puts to use spying for her adoptive poison-runner mothers. When a job goes wrong, Lore is caught and brought before Priest Exalted Anton Arceneaux and the Sainted King August Arceneaux, who give her a choice: die, or spy on the Sun Prince Bastian to find out why entire towns have been dying off. This task puts Lore in the orbit of both Bastian and Presque Mort Gabriel, both of whom feel oddly familiar. Romance is less central to this outing than in Whitten’s previous works, but there are still plenty of swoony moments to please fans. Meanwhile the fascinating magic system and ever-present danger keep the pages flying. Readers won’t want to miss this. Agent: Whitney Ross, Irene Goodman Literary. (Mar.)