cover image One Dark Window

One Dark Window

Rachel Gillig. Orbit, $17.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-31248-6

Gillig’s spooky, unpolished gothic fantasy debut and series launch introduces Elspeth Spindle, who has spent her life hiding how a magical fever known as the “infection” gave her the ability to absorb the power from Providence Cards, 12 playing cards used to perform specific kinds of legal magic. Touching just one card led to a monster, Nightmare, taking residence in Elspeth’s head and frequently commandeering her body. Nightmare helps Elspeth fight off a highwayman searching for her uncle’s Providence Cards—only for the highwayman to be revealed as the king’s nephew, Ravyn Yew. Now Elspeth is drawn into a desperate conspiracy to collect all 12 card types by the solstice to cure the infection before the King kills Ravyn’s infected younger brother and Nightmare completely takes over Elspeth body. There are some hiccups here: Nightmare’s penchant for speaking in oddly metered rhyming couplets feels inappropriately twee in such a blood-drenched book, and the twist reveal of Nightmare’s true identity is entirely obvious. Still, the steamy romance that emerges between Elspeth and Ravyn delights. Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Naomi Novak, and Hannah Whitten will want to check this out. Agent: Whitney Ross, Irene Goodman Literary. (Oct.)