One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig – Book Review

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“He came for the girl… And got the monster instead.”

Also, happy pub day (10/17/2023) to Two Twisted Crowns! I cannot wait to dive into the next book in this series later today!

Two Twisted Crowns review here!

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Elspeth is in need of a monster and the monster might be her.

Elspeth Spindle needs far more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-laden kingdom of Blunder. She needs a monster. A monster whom she refers to as the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her and keeps her secrets.

But nothing, especially magic, comes for free.

When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder of the dark and unwieldy magic infecting it.

And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…but also guilty of high treason.

Together, they must collect the twelve Providence cards – the key to unlock the cure. But as the stakes become higher than ever and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind.

And she might not be able to stop him.

Thoughts on the Plot

Oh, my trees, so many riddles!

The world-building in this book was interesting and I really enjoyed it because it isn’t too overly done. We are primarily in Blunder or the forest and it felt like the world-building was secondary to the atmosphere.

Which is not a bad thing. This book is giving eerie, moody, autumnal vibes and I am here for it.

The imagery and writing in this book are so enjoyable, I devoured this story in a day and my only regret is that I read it too fast.

I don’t have much to say in terms of pacing, but there were plenty of plot “twists” that were fairly predictable.

But I still ate them all up.

Another book with an earth-shattering cliffhanger, ya’ll. I don’t know how many more cliffhangers I can take.

Thoughts on the Characters

This cast of characters (weirdly) reminds me of a weird ACOTAR inner circle but far more interesting.

I love that this book is fantasy with a romance subplot. The romance was slow-burn and the chemistry was interesting but I found I really enjoyed it.

Our main character, Elspeth, does come off a bit too dumb/naive sometimes. I get sheltered but girl…c’mon. You’re embarrassing the rest of us.

Our love interest Ravyn is up there in my top 5 of book boyfriends. (I should probably do a tally because I definitely have more than 5 that are my favorite. Whoops.)

I am so beyond fascinated by the Nightmare and cannot wait for him to cause more absolute chaos in the second book!

I also genuinely loved the side characters in this book. There were some early on that I thought I had figured out.

Like oh, this one is gonna be the villain and then by the end of the book, I’ve categorized them as “must protect at all costs” in my brain.

While this book is marketed as YA, there is one spicy scene that in my opinion is not YA. As an adult reader, I enjoyed it, but do understand that it might be one of the main factors as to why this book may not be suitable for those on the younger side of the YA spectrum.

Overall Thoughts

This book lives rent-free in my head and since I read it in late August, I have been literally counting down the days for Two Twisted Crowns to be released.

I absolutely loved the setting of this book, it kind of reminded me of Thorn Grove in Belladonna with its eerie and moody atmospheric backdrop.

The characters were also quite fun to get to know and I loved the riddles.

And like I said earlier, I am beyond ready to find out more about the Nightmare and read about him causing nothing but pure chaos.

I also am hoping for more romance with Elspeth and Ravyn. I really like them as a pairing. In my little review for my August reading recap, I compared them to Feysand and Xiolence and while I still agree, I want more!

One Dark Window had me in a chokehold and now it its Two Twisted Crowns turn to bring me back into the dark and twisted world of Blunder.

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts!

If you like a little more spice: Belladonna Review // If you prefer very little spice: Divine Rivals Review

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