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One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig: A Fable Reading Guide

One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

“To the quiet girls with stories in their heads, / To their dreams - and their nightmares.” 

Talk about a dedication, right? Rachel Gillig knows how to grab your attention from the beginning to the end of her books.   “One Dark Window” (ODW) was Gillig’s debut novel, a thrilling dark fantasy filled with magic, dark secrets, and steamy romance. The next book in Gillig’s Shepherd King series - “Two Twisted Crowns” - will be released later this Fall, about one year after the release date of ODW.   

Everything you need to know about One Dark Window

Even though Gillig’s debut was released almost one year ago, it’s been getting a significant amount of attention lately - which shouldn’t be too surprising as Booktok got its hands on it. While it may not be in the “Booktok Mainstream,” like “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” “From Blood and Ash,” or “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” once were, it is nevertheless gaining a lot of attention from Booktokkers and Fable.    When Booktokker-sisters Kris and Maddie (@kris.and.maddie) announced their Fable club pick of June, many were ecstatic for the excuse to either (finally) pick the book up from their shelves or to buy themselves a copy and start reading with The Sisterhood“I just heard about this book a couple weeks ago and now I am seeing it everywhere,” wrote Courtney, a member of The Sisterhood book club. “Excited to read this one!” Let’s delve a bit deeper into Gillig’s stunning debut.

Who should read “One Dark Window”?

If you’re looking for even more reasons to read “One Dark Window,” here are a few similar books. Whether it be because of their similar tropes or overall “vibes,” if you liked these dark fantasy books, odds are you’ll love “One Dark Window.”
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose—to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods. Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.
Juniper and Thorn by Ava Reid
A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with an unquenchable appetite. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her magic to keep her city safe and find her place.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves and will do everything she can to get it.
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

What is “One Dark Window” about?

Elspeth Spindle, the protagonist of the series, lives in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder, protected by an inner monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. A fever has swept through her world. Our protagonist has survived it, but the fever is usually a death sentence for most infected (unless they possess magical Providence Cards. After healing from this sickness, survivors typically wake up with magic - a practice punishable by death. Elsbeth has managed to escape most of this throughout the years - other than the fact that she’s been stuck with Nightmare, the 500-year-old monster that lives in the darkest parts of her mind.When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life drastically turns as she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. We discover the highwayman is the King’s nephew, the captain who leads the most dangerous men in Blunde and is guilty of high treason. They quest to find magical 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.

Quotes from “One Dark Window”

"Still, it was the first time I stopped fearing the Nightmare the voice in my head, the creature with strange yellow eyes and an eerie, smooth voice. Eleven years later, and I don't fear him at all. "Even if I should."― Rachel Gillig

“The girl, the King… and the monster they became.” ― Rachel Gillig

That's how the best lies are told--with just enough truth to be convincing.― Rachel Gillig

“I'm just the wind in the trees, the shadow, and the fright. The echo in the leaves...the nightmare in the night.” ― Rachel Gillig

My magic moves, he said. My magic bites. My magic soothes. My magic frights. You are young and not so bold. I am unflinching five hundred years old.― Rachel Gillig

“It is not they who bring the reckoning, Ravyn. It is you. It is us.” ― Rachel Gillig

Book reviews for “One Dark Window”

  “One Dark Window” combines the Gothic with fantasy, fantastic world-building, and a steamy enemies-to-lovers romance, resulting in this spectacular book that leaves readers wanting more.   

“Oh my goodness! Love love love this book and I cannot wait for the second to come out. This story was amazing. The characters - amazing. I was sucked into the story line from the very first chapter!! So so good. And the ending!? What the heck!?”  Emily Walters, Fable Review.

If you’re looking for a book that will consume you, body and soul, this is it. The abundance of information - whether it be world or character-building - doesn’t become overwhelming. Instead, it’s dispersed perfectly; a new piece of information comes in right as the previous one dies down. With impeccable world-building, endless intrigue, and a romance that takes an urgent hold on you without taking anything away from the main story - instead, it adds so much more to it - “One Dark Window” will keep you hooked from start to finish.

“This is a gothic fantasy with a unique plot. Magic, adventure, political intrigue, and romance are weaved together. I was a little unsure the first few chapters, but once the plot begins to unfold the book is impossible to put down. It ends on quite the cliffhanger and I can’t wait for the next book! I didn’t read the tease at the end because I think it will make waiting even worse.🤣” Amzwiz87, Fable Review.

Content advisories for the novel

Rachel Gillig and her publisher have released a few content warnings in case any of these elements trigger readers:
  • Scenes of terror
  • General violence/gore
  • Child in peril
  • Blood
  • Mention of self-harm for magic
  • Moderate sexual content
  • Mention of parental neglect
  • Alcohol consumption

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