ARC Review – One Dark Window

Hello, everyone! This evening I am sharing my review of One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig. This stunning gothic romantic fantasy is available now wherever you buy your books!

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.

***Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I’m not really sure what to say about this book other than I LOVED it. I was immediately enamored with the beautiful prose and the atmospheric vibes it created. From the start, there was a tense energy underlying the story, as if at any moment something horrible would happen to the characters. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end, and then the cliffhanger killed me.

The setting and magic system were both incredibly fascinating. The isolated, dying kingdom and creepy killer fog were the perfect gloomy backdrop, and the history of the realm was expertly weaved into the ongoing narrative in a way that felt mysterious and foreboding. The magic system based on cards was unlike anything I’ve read before, and I loved learning about the different powers the cards could grant, as well as the story of how they got their power.

The plot was actually pretty straightforward with most of the focus on collecting (AKA stealing) a full set of all the different magical cards in an effort to save the kingdom. There wasn’t a ton of action, per se, but there was plenty of political conspiracy, subterfuge, romance, and tense character relationships. So, things were always interesting, and I never felt bored even in the slower moments.

The romance element of this book was one of my favorite things about it. Elspeth and Ravyn had great chemistry, and the tension in their relationship was high because of both their own secrets and the dangers lurking around them in the royal court. I enjoyed seeing them slowly come together as they found common ground due to their similarities and their shared mission. They both had compelling arcs individually, as well, with Elspeth doing what she could to find a cure for her magical affliction before it was too late and Ravyn attempting to save his brother and the kingdom. The supporting characters did a wonderful job of rounding out the cast with plenty of people to love and/or hate.

This review wouldn’t be complete without commenting on the Nightmare. He was a fascinating character, and I enjoyed attempting to figure out all of his riddles. The mystery of his character and where he fit into the larger story was one of the things that kept me glued to the pages of this book. His banter with Elspeth was fun to read, and his relationship with her was both strange and sad.

Overall, I can’t think of anything about this book I didn’t like. If you enjoy gothic romantic fantasy, this is one that is not to be missed. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and declare it an INSTANT FAVORITE!

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