Författarbild

Rachel GilligRecensioner

Författare till One Dark Window

5 verk 1,880 medlemmar 28 recensioner

Recensioner

That was surprisingly different and still so familiar. I loved it.
I teared through the pages within 3 days. Thank Odin, the second volume is already on my shelf.
 
Flaggad
RoXXieSiXX | 19 andra recensioner | May 20, 2024 |
4.5 stars Oh my goodness wow. This duology was phenomenal! These books have easily become favorites for me. I'm still in shock after finishing them.

I cannot even begin to understand why some people do not like these books, the first book is flawless in my opinion and the second book, while ever so slightly not as good as the first book, is still fantastic. I do hear a lot of people on TikTok comparing these books to series like ACOTAR and Fourth Wing (I have read both of those series- ACOTAR through ACOSF and Fourth Wing through Iron Flame). I have no idea why the hell people are comparing the Shepard King books to ones like ACOTAR and Fourth Wing because they could not be more different. The only similarity is that they’re all fantasy books involving magic. But even still, the magic in all of these series are soooo different from each other. So perhaps that's why people aren't liking these books, they're going into One Dark Window expecting intense fae politics and fae smut every other page or horny teenagers that ride dragons, when these books just aren't about that. I’ve heard a lot of people say they expected more smut and romance in the Shepard King series because of the comparisons to Fourth Wing and ACOTAR. The Shepard King duology, while it has romance, is not just about romance and doesn’t rely just on romance. It’s much deeper. So to people that picked up these books because they were looking for something to fill the void from missing ACOTAR, Fourth Wing, or other beloved romantasy series, pLEASE try these books again with a clean slate and palette. You won’t be getting ACOTAR 2.0 from these, it’s much, much different and honestly better. And to the people who said these books were “too wordy”, kindly be quiet and go read a dictionary because apparently you never studied your SAT words well enough. To me, the language of these books was like a breath of fresh air especially having grown up reading books like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and especially after the overly blunt and simplistic language of most popular novels and series out there (which I admit and appreciate, do still have a time and a place!).

**MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD**

Everything from the characters to the environment to the magic system to the plot and more was so good. I loved when Elspeth and the Nightmare would squabble, it cracked me up every time. And I also loved the development of Ravyn and the Nightmare's relationship throughout the second book. I went from silently screaming at the pages whenever Ravyn called the Nightmare a parasite and whenever the Nightmare called Ravyn a stupid bird to appreciating it and loving it. As did they I suspect. I love how those nicknames went from hurtful insults to secret terms of endearment. Especially at the very end when they called each other that for the last time—ohmygod im gonna cry just thinking about it—. And even if it wasn’t the author’s intention, I loved how the Maiden card represented what it’s like to fight depression. Having been fighting depression myself and knowing lots of people who have been too, it moved me deeply. I hope it was the author’s intention though.

I also loved the prose/writing style and all of the rhyming poetry. It was so eloquent and beautiful.

The ONLY thing I didn’t like about this book was that it had more smut in it than the first book. But that’s no surprise to me since I’m not much of a smut girly, it’s just not my thing. I would have gotten over it more had the author not done that sTUPID thing that authors sometimes do where they refer to the character’s g*nitals as the character’s “sex”. EW EW EW. I HATE that. It is my biggest pet-peeve. It makes no sense and I find it just gross. But anyway. Other than that the book had more smut and that one thing that I hate so much, I had no complaints. I mean there were a couple typos in both books. But whatever I can get over that. Me too queen I’m sure there’s typos in this very review if I’m being honest.

Overall, this duology was utterly fantastic and wonderful and I love it very dearly. I HIGHLY recommend these books and will gladly recommend them to everyone. It is everything I look for in a fantasy book: dark, gothic, magical, forests strewn with mist and magic and monsters, a little bit of horror, mind control and mind games, a little touch of romance, gowns and castles, I could easily keep going. Thank you Rachel Gillig for these wonderful, outstanding books. Also, I will never look at trees the same way again hahaha½
 
Flaggad
superducky800 | 7 andra recensioner | Apr 13, 2024 |
6 STARS I cannot believe how fantastic this book was. I am clawing at the walls of my enclosure for book two. I loved the gothic atmosphere and the magic system and the gore and the characters and everything. I am utterly obsessed with this book.

Adding this from my review of the sequel, Two Twisted Crowns (don't worry, no spoilers ahead for either book!):

I cannot even begin to understand why some people do not like these books, the first book is flawless in my opinion and the second book, while ever so slightly not as good as the first book, is still fantastic. I do hear a lot of people on TikTok comparing these books to series like ACOTAR and Fourth Wing (I have read both of those series- ACOTAR through ACOSF and Fourth Wing through Iron Flame). I have no idea why the hell people are comparing the Shepard King books to ones like ACOTAR and Fourth Wing because they could not be more different. The only similarity is that they’re all fantasy books involving magic. But even still, the magic in all of these series are soooo different from each other. So perhaps that's why people aren't liking these books, they're going into One Dark Window expecting intense fae politics and fae smut every other page or horny teenagers that ride dragons, when these books just aren't about that. I’ve heard a lot of people say they expected more smut and romance in the Shepard King series because of the comparisons to Fourth Wing and ACOTAR. The Shepard King duology, while it has romance, is not just about romance and doesn’t rely just on romance. It’s much deeper. So to people that picked up these books because they were looking for something to fill the void from missing ACOTAR, Fourth Wing, or other beloved romantasy series, pLEASE try these books again with a clean slate and palette. You won’t be getting ACOTAR 2.0 from these, it’s much, much different and honestly better. And to the people who said these books were “too wordy”, kindly be quiet and go read a dictionary because apparently you never studied your SAT words well enough. To me, the language of these books was like a breath of fresh air especially having grown up reading books like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and especially after the overly blunt and simplistic language of most popular novels and series out there (which I admit and appreciate, do still have a time and a place!).
 
Flaggad
superducky800 | 19 andra recensioner | Apr 10, 2024 |
Series Info/Source: This is the second book in The Shepherd King duology. I borrowed this on ebook from my library.

Thoughts: This was a DNF for me. I stopped reading this about 40% of the way through. After reading the first book in this series I found the magic system intriguing and the idea of the cursed kingdom interesting, but never really engaged with any of the characters very well. This book was worse for me.

We barely hear from Elspeth at all. I completely lost any connection I felt with Ravyn as well, he seems remote and we don't hear from him much in the first 40% of the book. Instead we spend a lot of time with Elm and Ione, two characters I never really enjoyed from the first book. The first book had a dark beauty to it, this one just did not.

Ravyn is still searching for the Twin Alders card. Ione has lost her maiden card and her and Elm kind of join forces to work against the King while she searches for it. I didn't get a lot more out of this than that before I stopped.

I realized as I was listening to this one day, that I kept coming up with excuses to not listen to it because I am so completely bored by the characters and story and feel absolutely no interest or draw to them. The book focuses a lot more on the odd romance (or at least attraction) between Elm and Ione and very little page space is given to actually fixing the problems the kingdom are facing. The balance between the story and characters felt off and the pacing was inconsistent.

I borrowed this from the library and have many other audiobooks I want to read as well. In addition to that, a lot of people were waiting for the audiobook. So, I decided to return it early and start on something I can stomach a bit easier. Hopefully others enjoy this more than I did!

My Summary (3/5): Overall, this was incredibly disappointing for me, but keep in mind I liked the first book but wasn't a die-hard fan of it. This second book just went too far in the direction of everything I didn't like about the first book.
 
Flaggad
krau0098 | 7 andra recensioner | Apr 3, 2024 |
Loved the book. Had me in suspense while listening to the audiobook. On yo book 2.
 
Flaggad
vickiv | 19 andra recensioner | Apr 2, 2024 |
So so good! TREES!!! Love the story! So in love with Elspeth and Ravyn! Such a page turner! Amazing gothic fantasy! Was so so invested in the story. Book two is already out and I can’t wait to read it!
 
Flaggad
morozovaanastasia | 19 andra recensioner | Mar 27, 2024 |
I liked this book. One thing that I wish the book did differently is gave more character development. I didn't have many feelings for the main character Rayvn; we barely got to know him in the book. Another aspect that I didn't enjoy was the rhymes throughout the book. It took me out of the world that was being built and felt too childish.
 
Flaggad
mixymixy | 19 andra recensioner | Mar 23, 2024 |
{second in Shepherd King duology; fantasy, teen romance, dark magic}(2023)

This is the second and final part of the Shepherd King's story and we discover it via Elspeth in the Nightmare's mind and flashbacks (the Nightmare being an entity who has been intertwined with Elspeth since her childhood).
But Ravyn knew better. No promise comes without payment. Blunder was a place of magic - barters and bargains. Nothing was free. 'What does the Shepherd King want?' he asked the girl-spirit. 'What is he after?'
'Balance,' she answered, head tilting like a bird of prey. 'To right terrible wrongs. To free Blunder from the Rowans.' Her yellow eyes narrowed, wicked and absolute. 'To collect his due.'
Wild magic used to exist, granted by the Spirit of the Woods. Legend says the Shepherd King tricked the Spirit into giving him magic, with which he created twelve types of Providence Cards which controlled magic so people no longer needed to make offerings to her. In revenge the Spirit surrounded his country of Blunder with a magical mist which cut it off from its surrounding countries. Children caught in the mist run the risk of 'infection' which gives them unknown, uncontrollable magic which is never the same and which usually results in degeneration, of mind, body, spirit or all three.

There are two threads to this story; one is the desperate race by Ravyn (pronounced like the bird's name), Elspeth, Elm, Jespyr and company to collect the complete Deck of magical Providence Cards (including the missing sole Twin Alders card) before Solstice, at which point of the year magic is strongest (and before Ravyn's and Jespyr's brother, Emory, dies from the degeneration caused by the infection), to free the country of Blunder from the magical mist and the other is the story of the Shepherd King and how he originally created the Cards. One Dark Window featured the attraction between Ravyn and Elspeth while in this book his cousin Elm (the king's younger son) finds a partner for whom he is willing to risk almost everything.

Though it continues straight on from the previous book, Two Twisted Crowns doesn't feel quite the same; for one thing it doesn't have the rhymes scattered liberally through it. The overall impression I'm left with is tangled tree branches in the mist (yes, like the cover). I may have read this book in a bit of a rush because I don't remember the details - I had to go back to re-read the end to remember exactly how it went - and, to be honest, I wasn't in the right mood for teen (oh, alright, they were both 22) romance - but that's just me. And Gillig seems to have taken the old adage for writers to do the worst thing they can to their protagonist to heart - so many times everything was in place for our heroes to go ahead and win the day when they were blindsided - usually by Hauth - which set everything back to naught again.
A flash of red. 'Don't move,' came Hauth's voice. 'Don't even speak.'
Salt stung Elm's senses. His mind skittered to a halt, locking his muscles along with it. He was frozen
Though the main story is rounded off and finished, I thought this book raised more questions than it answered - why, for instance, does the magic of the Spirit of the Woods come with salt and why does the Spirit come from the sea in land- and mist-locked Blunder? I also thought Brutus Rowan got a bit of a short shift; I can see why he took the actions he did but he and his descendants are made into the villains of the story (admittedly deservedly so, in some cases).

A good finish but more confusing than the first book.

(January 2024)
3.75 stars½
 
Flaggad
humouress | 7 andra recensioner | Feb 26, 2024 |
Series Info/Source: This is the first book in The Shepherd King series. I borrowed this on audiobook from the library.

Thoughts: This was an interesting read. It is a fairly typical fantasy romance complete with a forbidden love. However, there are a couple of story elements that set it apart from other fantasy romances. The first is the idea of the providence cards. Thse are magic cards with special powers that people covet for their magical powers. The second is the idea of a kingdom isolated and cursed by a surrounding mist. If the Providence cards can be brought together and a complete deck made, then the curse could be lifted...however, people's own greed prevents this.

Although the above premise intrigues me, I also found it contrived feeling. It's hard to believe that over all these years no one has tried to break the curse. Also ,we never really understand how Elspeth absorbed the Nightmare and what would happen if she were to touch and absorb other cards. The whole "magic system" feels a bit weak.

I also struggled with Elspeth as a character. She makes a lot of poor decisions throughout and never seems to learn from her mistakes. I liked the Captain of the Destriers, Ravyn, better but even he comes across as very selfish at times. I did enjoy the relationship the two developed. The Nightmare in Elspeth's head is an intriguing addition to the story and I enjoyed watching Elspeth trying to balance her own actions with the Nightmare in her head.

I listened to this on audiobook and it was a good listen. My only complaint is that sometimes the Nightmare's parts were whispered really softly, this made the narration hard to hear while driving...I kept having to turn the sound way up to hear the Nightmare. Aside from that I enjoyed the narration.

The story was engaging and easy to read. I did have to set aside my disbelieve around the concept behind this kingdom and the Providence cards, and Elspeth wasn't my favorite character. However, aside from those issues this story had a lot of intriguing elements.

My Summary (4/5): Overall I enjoyed this. I like the idea of a cursed kingdom shrouded in mist and I enjoyed watching Elpeth balance her own life with the Nightmare in her head. The relationship between Elspeth and Ravyn is sweet and a bit dark all at once. I plan on reading the second book in this series, "Two Twisted Crowns", as soon as I can get it from the library.
 
Flaggad
krau0098 | 19 andra recensioner | Feb 22, 2024 |
I know I’m late to the game with this duology, but I just finished Two Twisted Crowns and I couldn’t get enough! I started searching videos and reviews of other talking about my favorite parts of this book and saw so few so I decided to give my opinion of the best part of it!

Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely counting down chapters until I got to another part of Elm’s pov and got more of him and Ione. However the character/relationship development of the Shepherd King is something I will be thinking about for a very long time. While I loved this book I felt a lot of the plot twists were pretty predictable and felt the romance of One Dark Window and Two Twisted Crowns were so similar. The one thing I was not expecting was to be crying over the Shepherd King!!!!

Also, the multiple POVs really played a part in not being able to put this book down. I kept saying “after this chapter, I’m going to take a break” just to be left with a cliff hanger and needing to get the next chapter with that character’s pov.

I do think the ending was a bit rushed, that could just be not wanting to be done with these characters and this world. The Shepherd King series is the my first time jumping back into the fantasy realm since HP, and Rachel Gillig did an outstanding job setting up this world and magic system making it incredibly easy to follow.

My only worry is that no other fantasy is going to be able to compete with this one.
 
Flaggad
bvillegas410 | 7 andra recensioner | Feb 14, 2024 |
{first of Shepherd King duology; fantasy, quest}(2022)

Wild magic used to exist, granted by the Spirit of the Woods. Legend says the Shepherd King tricked the Spirit into giving him magic, with which he created twelve types of Providence Cards which controlled magic so people no longer needed to make offerings to her. In revenge the Spirit surrounded his country of Blunder with a magical mist which cut it off from its surrounding countries. Children caught in the mist run the risk of 'infection' which gives them unknown, uncontrollable magic which is never the same and which usually results in degeneration, of mind, body, spirit or all three. Only the magics granted by the Cards are now legal so these children are rounded up by the king's Destriers and Physicians and ... disappeared.
The Shepherd King had made seventy-eight Providence Cards in descending order. There were twelve Black Horses, held exclusively by the King's elite guards - the Destriers. Eleven Golden Eggs. Ten Prophets. Nine White Eagles. Eight Maidens. Seven Chalices. Six Wells. Five Iron Gates. Four Scythes. Three Mirrors. Two Nightmares.
And one Twin Alders.
Eleven years ago at the age of nine Elspeth Spindle, eldest child of the Destriers' Captain, was infected and survived - but only her family know her secret. She has been able to hide her magic because no magical traits appeared. However, unbeknownst to anyone else, she did touch a Nightmare Card and absorbed an entity from it; it still slithers in the back of her mind, whispering to her, quoting from the Old Book of Alders.
For the Black Horse Card, for power and speed,
The Spirit wanted blood from my warhorse, my steed.

For the Golden Egg Card, abundance and wealth,
I bartered two years of my life's precious health.

The Prophet came next, the Card of foresight.
She wanted my fear, so I gave her my fright.

When I asked her for courage, the White Eagle Card,
I bartered my skin, which left my hands scarred.

So I begged for the Maiden, for beauty I prayed.
She asked for my hair, shorn off with a blade.

.....

Wary I'd grown, so I needed the Well.
She asked for a chamber - a place she might dwell.

To reclaim my good self, I forged the Iron Gate.
The cost was my armour, my golden breastplate.

For the Scythe I wanted power, and her price was quite steep.
I gave her my rest - she claimed all my sleep.

The Mirror was next, to be invisible - unseen.
She wanted old bones, so I gave her my Queen's.

But it felt incomplete, my collection yet whole.
And so, for the Nightmare ...
I bartered my soul
The Kings of Blunder have historically been cruel and use the Cards to keep control of the country. When Elspeth is invited to the King's castle for the Equinox celebrations she discovers that there is a conspiracy to collect all twelve Cards - which, by the law of the land, is treasonous - in order to release Blunder from the spell of the mist and the threat of infection that hangs over its children. For the chance of being rid of the Nightmare in her head Elspeth agrees to help them since, with his help, she can sense the Cards when they're close by.

And it just so happens that Ravyn (pronounced Raven), the current Captain of the Destriers who succeeded her father, is young and handsome, which doesn't hurt. He is desperate to save his younger brother, who has been infected and is degenerating quickly but he has to hide what he is doing from his uncle, the king.

The magic system (based on the cards) is interesting and I thought the story was plotted well though there was probably an excess of rhyming couplets. I would say it falls into the Young Adult category - but there is a bedroom scene, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone too young. The story behind the cards is hidden in history and unfolds slowly. The book doesn't quite have a cliffhanger ending but it does stop at an interesting point; I've already borrowed the sequel.

(December 2023)
4 stars
 
Flaggad
humouress | 19 andra recensioner | Feb 12, 2024 |
See raamat ajas mind kuulates iga natukese aja tagant hullult närvi oma kohatise imaluse ja ebavajalike lapsikuste ja üleseletamise ja korrutamisega, aga pooleli ka ei saanud jätta, lugu oli hea ja intriig vedas kaasa :)
 
Flaggad
sashery | 7 andra recensioner | Jan 29, 2024 |
The dark, atmospheric story kept me hooked! The prose is captivating and lush, and I especially enjoyed the poetic epigraphs! The magic system is fascinating, the world-building is good, and there's a bit of romance and a healthy dose of action. I liked Elspeth's relationship (and banter!) with the 500-year-old monster, called Nightmare, residing in her mind.

The only con is that the story ends on a cliffhanger, and I wasn't emotionally ready, haha. Can't wait for the next book!
 
Flaggad
nadia.masood | 19 andra recensioner | Dec 10, 2023 |
Wow.

Just wow.

This book was worth the wait. I have had this book on my TBR since the beginning of the year, always promising that I would read it. I had it on my Summer TBR and then pushed it to my Harvest reads. I wish I had read this book much earlier.

As a child, Elspeth had an infection—an infection inflicted upon the town's people from a curse created by the Spirit of the Wood. Long ago, the Spirit of the Wood gave great power to the Shepherd King, who in turn, created seventy tarot-like cards that carried with it great magic.

The Black Horse - mastering combat.
The Golden Egg - great wealth.
The Prophet - to see the future.
The White Eagle - courage.
The Maiden - appearance changes to one of beauty
The Chalice - something like a truth serum.
The Well - shows enemies.
The Iron Gate - peace despite the situation
The Scythe - to control others
The Mirror - invisibility.
The Nightmare - something similar to telepathy.
The Twin Alders - the ability to speak to the Spirit of the Woods

These cards would cause a rift between the Spirit of the Woods and the Shepherd King causing the lands to be cursed and a toxic mist to settle around the border, eating up the lands.

There's something about the combination of magic, adventure, and love that captivates my imagination like nothing else. The way a well-written fantasy romance weaves together fantastical elements with intense emotions and deep connections between characters is truly enchanting.

In these stories, I find myself completely immersed in a world unlike any other. Whether it be a kingdom ruled by a powerful mage or a hidden realm inhabited by mystical creatures, the setting serves as a backdrop for the blossoming romance to unfold. The richly imagined details and vivid descriptions paint a picture so vivid that I can almost feel the magic pulsating through the pages.

This was one of those books that had me hooked from the first page until the last. I was caught up in Elspeth's story. I wanted to know her history, the cards, and the creature that had crawled into her head.

The cliffhanger. You cannot just toss out that little nugget and expect me to not fall off the couch, which by the way, I did. I fell and cried. I have book two on my reading TBR and it just might be pushed to next month because I need to know what is going on.

And, of course, the romance itself is a thing of beauty. It is more than just a fleeting attraction or a simple love story. It is a connection that defies all odds, a bond that transcends time and space. It is a love that is as epic as the world in which it unfolds. The romance of this book just fell a bit flat. I don't know why but I could not feel the connection between our two main leads.

Final Thought:

In the end, this book was definitely well worth picking up. The storyline, with its usage of a tarot-like system, is quite interesting.
 
Flaggad
Revengelyne | 19 andra recensioner | Nov 29, 2023 |
Two Twisted Crowns is the finale of Rachel Gillig's The Shepherd King duology. As with any story ending, there is the chance of disappointment. I am here to say that there is no disappointment here. Ms. Gillig finishes her series with a worthy conclusion filled with action, twists, and love.

Not only does Two Twisted Crowns finish the story of Elspeth and the Nightmare, but we also learn how the Mist and the Providence Cards came to be. This becomes pertinent information and provides some much-needed answers to who the Nightmare is and his agenda.

What surprised me most about Two Twisted Crowns is how emotional it made me. Ms. Gillig pulls your heartstrings in unexpected ways. Not only do we come to understand the Nightmare, we watch Ravyn's growing desperation to save his family, and we get more insight into Elm's trauma. It adds a gravitas to the story that I wasn't expecting.

Two Twisted Crowns is a heart-pounding adventure story with many twists and turns. It makes One Dark Window seem tame in comparison. The way in which Ms. Gillig weaves all of the intricate pieces of her story together is masterful. As is her storytelling. Ms. Gillig puts you in the action with each character as they face each obstacle. You feel all their emotions, and there are many. She puts her characters through hell, and we are there for every bit of it.

I loved Two Twisted Crowns. I fell in love with Elspeth and Ravyn, Ione and Elm. The story of Blunder and the House of Rowan is much more complex than I thought. The sign of a good novel is never wanting it to end, and that is how I feel about Two Twisted Crowns. Since it did have to end, I cannot wait to see what Ms. Gillig has for us next.½
 
Flaggad
jmchshannon | 7 andra recensioner | Oct 22, 2023 |
Absolutely wonderful! So dark and twisty but with a hint of romance. I cannot wait for book 2 and to see what happens next!
 
Flaggad
stephthebookish | 19 andra recensioner | Jul 28, 2023 |
I felt like Stephan on SNL talking about this book. It has everything...evil princes, good princes, romance, magic filled forests and a spirit of the woods, regicide, magic cards, masked highwaymen. Seriously, I loved this book even more than the first one. If you read the first book you MUST read this one!
 
Flaggad
Verkruissen | 7 andra recensioner | Jul 6, 2023 |
If the world-building and characters had been just a little deeper, this would have easily been a 5-star book for me. (Also, I wish it was slightly more adult and less YA...)
 
Flaggad
bookwyrmqueen | 19 andra recensioner | Apr 25, 2023 |
3.75

watch here: https://www.youtube.com/@starkissedstories

I almost gave this 4 stars but it wasn't quite there.
The premise of the book is cool (I'm a ho for tarot so I loved the deck angle), something different. I called who the nightmare was pretty much straight out the gate - but I'm still interested to find out more - (I really wanted her to touch all the cards).
The romance was ok - I prefer a bit more flirtation and tension before the big bang tho.
The writing is ok, but I find the pace a touch slow.
I will continue on with the series.
 
Flaggad
spiritedstardust | 19 andra recensioner | Apr 4, 2023 |
nope, not for me. gothic fairy tale-type setting, with stock characters, a not very interesting magic of cards and very little happening in the plot. it's not well written and there's a whole lot of the lore of the story expressed in very bad doggerel, endlessly repeated. the last few pages flip the point of view in a way that might point to something more original in the second book of the series, but i had so little desire to finish this first book that i am totally not tempted to continue. too bad, but these are all problems that are supposed to be worked out before publication.
 
Flaggad
macha | 19 andra recensioner | Jan 30, 2023 |
Rachel Gillig’s One Dark Window was a great novel to end the month and usher in the spooky season. A countryside filled with a menacing mist. Monsters that talk to the main character. Political machinations. Family drama. It is quite the story, and Elspeth is quite the character. Between the Nightmare, her partnership with the highwaymen, and her complicated relationship with her father, Elspeth has to deal with more than your average female. She does so with courage, passion, and compassion. The ever-growing presence of the Nightmare adds its complications and fascination to the point where I tore through the novel too fast and finished it too quickly. Now I have to wait until the sequel, and that’s just too long.
 
Flaggad
jmchshannon | 19 andra recensioner | Dec 24, 2022 |
TW/CW: Sex, mind-control, illness, near-death of a child,

REVIEW: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

This book takes place in a world where legitimate magic is carried in a collection of cards and illegitimate magic is brought on by infection. Those who become infected are captured and murdered. The main character, Elsbeth, of course is a survivor of the illness and has magic of her own. Of course, she also has the soul of a man trapped in her head, something that she has to deal with every day. Drawn in my a group of palace rebels who say they can fix magic once and for all if she just helps them a little bit, they attempt to collect all the magic cards in order to gain control of the magic again. Sound confusing? Well, it is.

I rarely have problems following books like I did this one. It was confusing, I found the pacing to be incredibly slow (literally almost nothing really happens) the characters boring, the tropes over done and the only thing I really did care about (finding all the cards and saving magic) was foiled when it ended on an incredibly abrupt cliffhanger. It can be okay when books have cliffhangers. Sometimes they’re exciting and make me want to get the next book as soon as possible. But sometimes, like in this book, they just leave me massively confused because this book basically had no ending at all. It was just a ‘to be continued.’ I probably won’t be continuing.
 
Flaggad
Anniik | 19 andra recensioner | Nov 26, 2022 |
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.
 
Flaggad
rachelprice14 | 19 andra recensioner | Nov 6, 2022 |
Source: NetGalley, thank you to the publisher & I purchased my own copy I enjoyed it so much!
TL;DR: Melodramatic and slow in the beginning but the ending makes up for that in spades.

Plot: The plot in this was good but took a bit too long at times
Characters: They felt very YA, not in a terrible way. Just a melodramatic way at times.
Setting: Very good, very good - that's what really kept me in.
Magic: Also very good! I loved the idea behind the magic mainly.

Thoughts:
This book was a lot like walking out a misty morning into a train wreck of a day and not wanting to look away - the best way possible. One Dark Window is a dark and moody fantasy that I would put squarely between YA and Adult. The characters and the melodrama of it felt very YA while the tone and worldbuilding felt more adult for me, so be aware of that going in. That melodrama and setting was eventually what kept me going. The town of Blunder is surrounded and beset by a fog or mist that never leaves, and is slowly taking over and cutting it off from the world. It all comes from a deal made by an ancient king to the Spirit of the Woods and she's wants her payment. Elspeth, our main character, gets sucked into a conspiracy to locate and fulfill the prophecy that will end the deal and save the town and the the townsfolk.

The book builds slowly, Elspeth is possessed? Is in possession of? A spirit that lurks in the back of her mind. He speaks with her in riddles and rhymes and knows far more than he tells her. Over the course of the novel we find out more about him, slowly, and Elspeth learns more how to work with him and struggles to find the answers to her questions. The rest of the cast, though interesting is hardly important. There is our obligatory love interest, who felt very standard, and his assorted found family. Some of which I did really enjoy! There was also an interesting character in Elspeth's cousin who at first a thought was going to become Elspeth's female rival, but the further into the story we went I think perhaps the author is going to explore a different kind of relationship and that's one I'm very excited for.

The setting is the win here though. You want something moody, misty, and you want to feel the cold and chill of the place? One Dark Window has it in spades. The creepy forest, the feel of something always behind you, it's all captured wonderfully. It ties will with the magic of the story. It's all due to the Spirit of the Woods and a bargain made years ago by The Shepard King. Now magic is sealed in Cards that can be used by the people of the town. All other magic is shunned since it comes from the mist and it leads to madness. The idea of give and take is very real and involved here.

Ultimately I ended up loving where this book went. The melodrama and slow pace of the first portion were saved by the atmosphere and the setting. And the ending that pops off had me actually yelling out loud (my husband was highly amused). I immediately ordered my own physical copy because as soon as I can get my hands on the second book I'm rereading the first and diving in. Go in with the right expectations and I think you'll be delighted.

4 Glowing Cards out of 5
 
Flaggad
Adilinaria | 19 andra recensioner | Oct 7, 2022 |