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.
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