For the Throne

Following her fantasy debut--For the Wolf, the first of The Wilderwood duology--Hannah Whitten turns the lens in For the Throne toward elder sister Neve and offers another intricately plotted fantasy with elements bordering on horror. Once again, the forest holds secrets and danger, but now Neve is trapped in a treacherous underworld prison with Solmir, a king made mortal. Solmir murdered Neve's betrothed in the prequel and used her in his scheme to destroy the Old Kings, but now Neve must rely on him if she has any hope of surviving the Shadowlands.

Readers may initially have a difficult time warming to morally gray Neve and Solmir after the events of For the Wolf. In Neve, Whitten has created a monster out of grief, a young woman so corrupted by vengeance that her veins run black under skin devoid of color. Where Neve was once desperate to save her sister Red, she's now in need of rescue and, in her darkest times, wonders if she deserves it.

One of Whitten's core themes is that monstrousness is in the eye of the beholder. As a half-spider woman says early in the book, "In its barest form, its simplest definition, a monster is merely something different than you think it should be. And who gets to decide what should be, anyway?" Told in several points of view, Whitten's fantasy deftly balances exterior and interior worlds. Monstrous and heroic, these characters are at times hard to love, but Whitten is very convincing. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

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