Hi everyone! It’s another review day today! As you can see, I’m reviewing One Dark Window which is a gothic fantasy horror! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’ve been really reading a lot more horror lately but fantasy is still my #1 genre, so I figured this would be the perfect combination of the two!
One Dark Window
by Rachel Gillig
Series: One Dark Window #1
Release date: September 27th 2022
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Horror
Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.
But nothing comes for free, especially magic.
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 from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason.
Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten 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.
According to the author on Goodreads, this is an adult gothic fantasy, but it reads more like YA so it’s definitely accessible for those who are in the YA age range, although there is a scene that is pretty spicy. I really enjoyed the premise of this story and how unique it was! In this world there are magic providence cards (kind of like tarot cards) that grant magical abilities, although if you use them for too long there are adverse reactions. There is also a magical plague that affects children, and if they survive the infection they become cursed with magic that eventually will lead to their death. There is a LOT of backstory that comes with the magic of this world and the way the past is revealed is a big part of the story, so I won’t spoil anything!
This is a great fall read, definitely fits the vibes of the season. This book has enemies to lovers and the fake dating trope which I love, as well as a dark and brooding captain of the guard, which I’m always down for!
One of my biggest complaints is that I REALLY did not like the main character Elspeth, I thought she was really quite dumb. She’s had her magic for 11 years which has resulted in the Nightmare living inside her head, and not ONCE does she put any of the clues together to figure out who he is even though it’s extremely obvious. She just keeps asking him and he tells her that she already has the answer, but she NEVER puts it all together. She also says repeatedly that she doesn’t want to give in to the Nightmare and let him take over, and she’s aware that the more she asks for his help the stronger he becomes so she’s determined to not ask for his help. Until she’s in even the slightest bit of danger and she starts SCREAMING for his help. I took so many notes on how stupid I thought she was being at all times.
While I liked the idea of the cards and the magic system, there were definitely some inconsistencies that really stood out to me. Everyone knows the kind is looking to compete his card deck so that he can save the kingdom from the mist that surrounds it, yet it seems that no one wants to actually give him their cards and people are always trading their cards to others. They’re also dangerous because they have those adverse effects if used for too long, but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone but they’re willing to kill any children who get the infection because their magic will kill them. It doesn’t really make a ton of sense to me.
This definitely is in line with the current popular trend in YA fantasy, while it has some unique ideas there’s also quite a bit that’s similar to other YA fantasy books so it’s very easy to predict the entire book. If that’s something you’re okay with, definitely give this book a go! Overall, I liked this and enjoyed it while I was reading it, but it definitely has it’s flaws and I’m not sure if I’ll read the sequel.
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