Book Review: One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

About the Book:

Title: One Dark Window

Author: Rachel Gillig

Page Length: 432

Publication Date: Sept. 27, 2022

Publisher: Orbit Books

Synopsis: 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.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

Happy Tuesday, and a very happy book birthday to One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig! I’ve been loving the dark, atmospheric books lately, and One Dark Window was a great addition to my eerie reads this month. The story follows Elspeth Spindle who, after an infection gave her magic as a child, now lives with a being called Nightmare in her head. Knowing she will be persecuted and imprisoned if her magic is found out, Elspeth lives away from prying eyes with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. But a confrontation with highwaymean on her walk home changes everything. Elspeth is thrust into a world of danger and corruption as she tries to find a way to retrieve magical objects that could rid her of Nightmare and magic forever.

The setting of the story is Blunder. It’s dark and mysterious, with a dangerous mist trapping the characters within their city, magic with harmful consequences, and enigmatic inhabitants and locations. The setting has a dark and ominous feel to it that permeates the tone, the characters, and the plot. This is a world where people can become “infected” and gain old magic, which is forbidden. The magic system is fascinating and so unique. I was intrigued by the Providence Cards and all they entailed, and the lore of this world is equally interesting. Poems and riddles are interspersed throughout the story, and Providence Cards begin each chapter and offer clues as to how each works and the effects they have on their owners.

Elspeth, the protagonist, is one of the infected and has kept it a secret for years. In fear of imprisonment and possible execution, Elspeth avoids the Destriers, soldiers who enforce the rules. However, when she meets the Captain of the Destriers, Elspeth realizes that things are not always as they seem. Elspeth’s story is fascinating, as she battles the magic taking over, fights among others to find all of the Providence Cards, and allies herself with people she never could have expected. It’s super intense and mysterious, and there are a few surprising twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. I buddy read this with Leslie @ Books Are the New Black, and we read it so fast!

The relationships in the story stand out as much as the setting and plot. Elspeth and her cousin have a sisterly bond, and the connection Elspeth has with her aunt really contrasts with the cold and distant relationship she has with her father, stepmother, and stepsiblings. Elspeth also develops friendships with Ravyn, Elm, and the rest of their family. This close-knit, loving family juxtaposes Elspeth’s family well, and I’m really enjoying their family dynamics and the lengths they go to protect each other.

Of course, I always enjoy a good love story, and the budding romance between Elspeth and Ravyn is wonderful. Their love story isn’t at the forefront of the story, but it is a lovely addition to it. Though they come from very different parts of this kingdom, these enemies have a lot in common. I like how they slowly begin to trust in and depend on each other, and I so hoped that they’d find a way to be together.

Another fascinating relationship is the one between Elspeth and Nightmare. Nightmare lives in Elspeth’s head which is a result of the infection. They have an unusual relationship, as Nightmare often helps and guides Elspeth all while slowly taking over her body and mind. The lack of control that Elspeth often feels, the troubling riddles he speaks in, and the ominous effects of using this magic make the story even more eerie and mysterious. But even though you would think Elspeth and Nightmare would be enemies, they have this unusual connection that is hard to define.

One Dark Window is a fantastic debut novel by Rachel Gillig, and after that epic, gasp-out-loud ending, I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!! Special thanks to Orbit Books for sending me an advanced copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Parts:

Favorite Lines:

We were the same, he and I. Gifted with ancient, terrible magic. Woven in secret, hidden in half-truths. We were the darkness in Blunder, the reminder that magic – wild and unfettered – prevailed, no matter how desperately the Rowans wanted to stamp it out. We were the thing to be feared.

There are many different kinds of cages.

Magic knows no loyalty.

Nothing is free. Nothing is safe. Magic is love, but also, it’s hate.

Be wary. Be clever. Be good.


This is a great book for readers who enjoy dark fantasy like For the Wolf, Lakesedge,

13 thoughts on “Book Review: One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

  1. Wow, 5 stars. It sounds like a great dark fantasy story. I am going to put it on my maybe list for later as I am getting into my Christmas reads now. Glad you enjoyed this one Julie.

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