One Dark Window Review (The Shepherd King, #1)

Hello, all!

I've been craving an atmospheric fantasy lately, and I had seen One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig floating around BookTok, and I loved the cover so I figured I'd give it a go.

Pub Date: 9-27-22
Adult - Fantasy

Elspeth Spindle lives in the mist-locked kingdom of Blunder. Hundreds of years ago, its King was betrayed, and the throne usurped. Since then, the infection has plagued the land. Those who catch the fever are sentenced to death before developing the magic that will cause their bodies and minds to degenerate. When Elspeth was young, she caught the fever, but instead of turning her over to the King's cruel guards, her father sent her away to live with her aunt and uncle. For the past eleven years, Elspeth has had to hide the fact that she has magic, but it's getting increasingly difficult now that the monster inside her head is growing stronger.

Elspeth has tried to live a quiet life, not wanting to draw much attention to herself, but when she crosses paths with a highwayman, all that changes. Suddenly, she finds herself thrust into a dangerous quest to steal Providence Cards, the magical keys to saving not just the land, but all those infected with magic. Elspeth is desperate enough to try anything to rid her mind of the monster within, but when her mysterious highwayman turns out to be the King's nephew and captain of his guard, the stakes get higher. With treason on the line, the pair must tread carefully to succeed. With suspicions arising and the darkness within her threatening to overpower her, Elspeth quickly learns that everything has a cost, especially when it comes to magic.

I've been intrigued by this book for a while, and I'm glad I finally picked it up. It has that eerie, creeping vibe that makes it perfect for the fall. I thought the magic system was super unique. It revolves around tarot cards which I don't think I've seen utilized in other fantasy stories. Each card has a different use and way they affect those that wield them, and I found it all so intriguing. It was also interesting to see how the fever manifested in different people. For Elspeth, she essentially absorbed the magic from a card she touched that caused a being to become trapped in her mind. Their dynamic was interesting because you could tell they had some respect for one another, but the monster was ultimately feeding off her. I also liked the relationship between Elspeth and Ravyn, and the interactions between all the secondary characters. When it comes to the actual plot, I did want a little more out of it. I didn't feel like a lot happened, but I was still entertained and am looking forward to continuing the series.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. I've been intrigued by this one too! Glad to hear that you enjoyed it and I also love the utilization of Tarot cards.


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