cover image The Hemlock Queen

The Hemlock Queen

Hannah Whitten. Orbit, $30 (480p) ISBN 978-0-316-43529-1

Whitten keeps readers on their toes in this standout romantasy, the second in her Nightshade Crown series. The power has shifted in the kingdom of Auverraine since the events of The Foxglove King: Bastian now sits on the throne with deathwitch Lore as his right hand, while Gabe has risen to fill the vacancy as Exalted Priest, leading the Presque Mort. As the trio adjust to their new roles, the enemy Kirytheans encroach, ready to take advantage of any weaknesses—and Bastian’s palace has plenty. Half his court is under house arrest and the acrimony among the remaining courtiers is exacerbated by Lore’s presence and her closeness to Bastian. This political tension is matched by the romantic tension between the three protagonists as they struggle with the feelings that run rampant between them. After Lore and Bastian together channel the powerful magical forces of Mortem and Spiritum, Lore starts hearing an unwelcome voice in the back of her mind and Bastian grows increasingly possessive and cold. Whitten keeps the pages flying as prophecies, gods, and heavy secrets impact the central love triangle. This enthralling sequel will leave readers clamoring for more. Agent: Whitney Ross, Irene Goodman Literary. (Apr.)