One Dark Window Readalong: Day 1!

Stunning photo by @myfriendsarefiction!

Hi Fairies!

Happy Monday and welcome to day 1 of our readalong of One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig. I’m so excited to be reading this one with you, I hope you all love it!

Before we start, how are you all doing? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and got some reading and relaxing done.

Since today is day 1, we’ll be reading from the beginning to the end of Chapter 7. Get comfy and let’s get started!

When you’ve finished today’s section, catch up with me in the comments down below so we can discuss the beginning of the book. Happy reading!

Please be warned, the following section will include spoilers for One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig from the beginning to Chapter 7. Please only read on if you have finished this section!


The infection comes as a fever in the night. What a spooky start! Elspeth was nine when she was infected. When physicians come to find her, her aunt tells her to go to the woods, but she hits her head and can’t do much in the way of escaping… until something in her mind helps her escape. Uses her body and makes her move. It’s eleven years on and Elspeth doesn’t fear the thing – the Nightmare – in her mind. Interesting opening!

So even Elspeth’s cousin doesn’t know the change the infection wrought upon her, the Nightmare in her head… She has convinced everyone she doesn’t have any magic from the infection, but she does.

Elspeth seems to have taken in the Nightmare after touching a Providence card. Is that the magic she inherited? To absorb Providence cards. Kind of cool!

In a moment of panic where highwaymen are upon her, Elspeth asks for the Nightmare’s help and once again, it helps her in her time of need.

Elspeth is heading to Stone with Ione and her aunt and uncle, and her uncle is taking the Nightmare card with him as payment for… something. It’s all very sketchy.

We learn how the cards came to be, how the mist and infections came to be. The Shepherd King was tricked by a Spirit. In the present day, the mist is growing, and the current King is restless to find the last two cards. Can’t blame him!

Elspeth is seated next to Emory Yew, the King’s youngest nephew. I… don’t like him. When Elspeth tries to escape Emory, the King’s eldest nephew, Ravyn appears out of nowhere to save her. 

I think Elspeth suspects Emory, like her, survived the infection without getting caught. It would explain his unusual actions!

Ravyn wants to know what kind of gift Elspeth has. She doesn’t tell him the whole truth, just that she can see Providence cards. Interesting!

  1. What do you think of Elspeth’s father and stepmother?
  1. If you had an intruder called the Nightmare living in your mind, would you tell people or keep it quiet?
  1. What do you think Elspeth’s dream means? And what do you think it means that up until now, she hadn’t dreamt for 11 years?
  1. What are your theories on Emory Yew, and why Ravyn was suddenly there to intercept Emory and Elspeth?
  1. Ione is in possession of the Maiden card. It can change her if she lets it. Do you think she’ll use it?

What an interesting start! We’re trying things a little differently this readalong with some questions to get you thinking! Let me know in the comments if you like the questions. ?

Hope you’re enjoying the book so far! See you tomorrow for day two.


33 thoughts on “One Dark Window Readalong: Day 1!

  1. I’m very curious to see what more there is to the Maiden card, and just learn more about the card magic system in general! I love the style of prose in the book so far as well!

    1. The magic system is so interesting! ?

    2. I am also completely obsessed with the magic system in this book! I feel like it’s truly unique!

  2. 1. Hate the stepmother and I feel for the father. His whole belief system crumbled when his daughter was infected and he still chose to save her. I think he cares for her but kept his distance from her because of his role – her being discovered was more likely in his household. I hope they are able to mend their relationship further in the future.

    2. Definitely keep it quiet! I don’t need to give people concrete proof of how crazy I am.

    3. I feel like there’s something going on with the Nightmare when she’s asleep. Like maybe she doesn’t dream because he’s fronting?


    Won’t answer the last two questions because I have finished the book haha.

    I really loved this book and I’m so excited to explore further!!

    1. So happy to hear that you loved it! ?

  3. Anyone else got confusing warm feelings for the Nightmare?….?

    1. Yes! Nightmare protects and emboldens her. Their rapport has me wishing I had my own Nightmare lol.

    2. No I definitely vibe with him in a weird sought of way.

    3. ??? I love this

  4. Loving the magic system so far!! I can’t wait to see where the rest of the book takes us!

    1. So glad you’re loving the magic system! ?

  5. I am loving this book and the intricate system of magic cards!

    1. I definitely don’t like the stepmother, and I’m not very excited impressed by Elspeth’s father so far. He comes across as weak when it comes to standing up for Elspeth, even though he seems to care for her.

    2. I would keep it quite as long as I can as I wouldn’t know who to trust.

    3. I’m not sure what her dream means, but I think the reason she doesn’t dream is because the Nightmare takes over her mind and wonders about. Conversely, if she dreams, she would get into the Nightmare’s mind and see what he does when he is not around.

    4. I think Emory Yew is an infected survivor like Elspeth, but not as lucky at hiding or controlling his condition. I wasn’t sure how Ravyn got to them so quickly; I thought maybe he followed them. By now that I’ve read ahead I have a different theory.

    5. Yes, I think Ione will use the card and might end up paying dearly for it.

    1. I’m so happy you’re loving it! ?

  6. 1. Super sad the father is so apathetic. Stepmother = barf. The worst.
    2. If you tell people you’re looking at being locked up at best. Better to keep it a secret.
    3. Foreshadowing? I think our dreams are us trying to make sense of real things so maybe it’s all connected.
    4. I mean Emory is a bit of a weirdo so maybe Ravyn knows to watch after him? Also, he seems a little otherworldly. Maybe he could sense something wrong. Or her. I don’t know.
    5. I think she will. I wonder if it will be by her own will though.

    1. Loving hearing your thoughts! ?

  7. Loving this so far, and am really intrigued by the magic system! Couldn’t help but sing what the cards were to the “12 days of Christmas” song- it went really well ??
    I’m really curious to the dream and the way the nightmare talks, really eerie but I love it! Her stepmother and sisters give me very Cinderella vibes, step mother is cruel but I do feel slightly sorry for her dad ?
    I feel like Emory is some sort of seer, and I am curious to the royals relationships and looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds!

    1. So glad you’re enjoying it! Also going to try singing that ?

  8. Love the card style magic system so far! I’m really curious to see what Raven and his group want from Elspeth, although I have some suspicions… I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds!

    1. I’m so happy you’re loving it so far! ?

  9. I’m enjoying it a lot so far, really like the concept of the cards and that we got the backstory on how they came to be.
    I’m interested to see more from Nightmare, I’m sure his story is complex and I can’t wait for some of his secrets to come out.

    I guess Ravyn and Elm are trying to collect all the cards to fix the mist so I’m expecting them to coerce Elspeth into helping them so I’m excited for that!

    And I definitely think Ione with use the Maiden card and it won’t go well ?

    1. I’m so glad you’re loving it so far! ?

  10. 1) I kinda like the father. He seems to be trying harder with Elspeth than with his other daughters, at least from what we’ve seen to far. Stepmother can go jump.

    2) I would keep it quiet AND give it a better name LOL. Or maybe tell people in a joking fashion so they’d never know I was serious.

    3) She said she thinks the Nightmare retreats somewhere in her brain when it’s not talking to her. Maybe as she ages her own power grows and now she’s starting to use those parts of her mind that it used to hide in?

    4) I think Emory also survived like Elspeth but the whole degeneration thing is maybe starting for him. He does not seem right at all. I figured Ravyn was just keeping an eye on him due to that…maybe he’s aware of Ravyn’s little bandit group or something.

    5) Oh yes I feel like Ione is a tragedy in the making.

    1. Loved reading your thoughts! ?

  11. 1. I really don’t like the stepmother so far. I think I’m warming up to the father though.

    2. Honestly I think it would depend. I think if I really trusted somebody I would tell them, but on the other hand, I would be terrified of being labeled as insane.

    3. I’m honestly not really sure about her dream yet. It definitely seems strange to me that she suddenly dreamed now when she hadn’t done so in 11 years.

    4. All I know about Emory Yew so far is that I’m not impressed haha. As for Ravyn, I just get this feeling that he knows something more in this situation.

    5. I mean, I feel like she might choose to. Like depending on the circumstances, it might be the best option she has I guess.

    1. Loved reading your thoughts! ?

  12. 1. I think the father is still grieving deeply for Elspeth’s mother. Step-mother is terrible.
    2. Probably keep it quiet. It doesn’t sound like they have much support for a mental health system, even if that’s what the Nightmare was. Which it definitely isn’t.

    I’m really loving this system of magic. It’s very cool how Elspeth can see the aura of specific cards. I can’t wait to learn more about what each card type does and how they made duplicates of them.

    The mist gives me big “The Darkening” vibes, but I think it’s being done much better.

    Looking forward to learning more about the nightmare and what this group of fake highwaymen are going to want from her.

  13. “The Girl, the King, & the monster they became” after that dream, especially after not dreaming, seems particularly poignant. I’m trying to guess what the riddles about each card mean. So far, I’m getting a “nothing is as it seems” vibe from the story, or, as the Nightmare said, “beast yet unknown, then.” Royalty attacking young girls as Highwaymen? A prince, no less? What next? I can’t wait to find the answers to all of my questions (the Yews, the Rowans, Ione, etc).

    1.) I think her father is not a wholly bad man, but it’s obvious she’s been hurt by him in the past. I’d like to have faith in his character, but I’ll reserve judgement until I have more information. Nerium’s is clearly a bitch & not only showing those ugly tendencies in front of Elspeth if her father felt the need to stand up to her on his daughter’s behalf and for Aunt Opal to want her to squirm in discomfort.
    2.) I would keep quiet because 1st, it’s generally considered crazy to hear a voice or voices in your head, & 2nd, if that’s the only means of protection from people, why show my hand?
    3.) It seems that something is changing. Dreaming after 11 years, dreaming of something related to the curse of the kingdom, hearing about a girl (her?), a King (current or Shepherd?), & a monster (the Nightmare?) definitely sounds like a hint &/or foreshadowing.
    4.) I’m curious if Emory is another child who survived the infection like Elspeth suspects. If Renelm is a Scythe card holder, he could’ve used it to have Ravyn intercept Emory after he led Elspeth away maybe (not sure exactly how the cards work yet, obviously). Another possibility is that Ravyn was already watching their exchange & was in his way, assuming from previous events that Renelm was near, that Emory was drinking, what’s actually going on with Emory, etc.
    5.) I hope Ione doesn’t use the Maiden card & realizes that Elspeth loves her & only wants the best for her. She clearly seems to have an issue with that though (based on what transpired in their tiff), so it’s a coin toss this early on.

  14. Got a late start but I’m catching up. This first section was a quick and immersive start for sure.

    1. I hate her father. I don’t trust him and he obviously just sees her as a problem that he has to take care of. Her step mom reminds me of the evil step mother from Cinderella. Cruel and intentional with words for enjoyment.

    2. I like the idea of nightmare getting to speak freely. I do think some of the advice he offers is valid. I can see where it would be tricky to navigate difficult situations while thinking through each possibility with someone else telling you what to do.

    3. I think the dream means something is coming. Maybe her power is getting stronger and she’s finally really awakening to its true abilities especially with being around all of these new cards.

    4. I think they caught on early about Elspeth’s power and together they are working to figure it out. I’m not sure if they are trying to figure it out for good or for bad.

    5. SADLY YES.

  15. 1. I can’t really get a read on them to be honest. Her stepmother seems to not like her and work towards getting Elspeth separated from her family. Her fathers seems like he made a mistake he wants to make up, but doesn’t quite know how.

    2. I don’t really know. I guess it depends a bit on how it would possibly be received. I fully understand Elspeth not telling anyone and wouldn’t have done that either in the same situation. If it would’ve been more common or not linked to an infection that should’ve killed her somehow I might be more inclined to tell others.

    3. Maybe getting closer to the king and the other nightmare card made some changes? It could also be that somehow her age (20 years) is mature enough for her powers to somehow evolve and now include dreams.

    4. Ravyn probably recognised her and wanting to know her somehow and knowing how Emory is, he probably stepped in. Emory seemed like a drunk, but to be honest I believe there is more to it that meets the eye. Like him having some kind of powers of having used cards too much which made him partially loose his mind despite his young age.

    5. I think if she’ll get desperate enough she will. She seems like a romantic, and getting the card from Hauth (probably) maybe she’ll try to get him to fall for her naturally. When that might not work or she can’t keep his attention, I think she’ll use the card.

    1. I like the idea that she’s maturing into her power and such with the dream! That’s something I hadn’t considered and it makes sense with the whole “cost of magic” thing

  16. 1.
    I an unsure how I feel about her father. He seems like he means well but has neglected Elspeth. I dislike her stepmother. I’d be interested to hear about how they treated her before she got the infection and if it him changed once she had it.

    No I wouldn’t tell anyone. I wouldn’t want them to think I’m a danger.

    I don’t think it was a dream. I think it was the nightmare’s memory. Maybe he used to be a man once. Maybe her connection to the nightmare is getting stronger or he’s getting weaker which is why she was able to see into that memory or whatever it was.

    I think he is infected or has a card that made him somehow see the nightmare within Elspeth’s mind. I think Ravyn was there to protect Emory..

    5. I hope Ione does not use it but I’m guessing she will. It will make the story better if she does use it.

  17. Ooo this book is off to a strong start. Very intrigued by the magic system in this book, and I can’t wait to learn more about the cards and what else they can do. Quite curious about the Nightmare too, as well as Elspeth and her ability to see the auras of the cards.

    1- honestly, I mislike both of them. Her stepmother is downright cruel to her and alienating her from her own family. Meanwhile her father is neglectful and failing to make any meaningful efforts to keep his daughter as part of the family. Also, marrying a woman who hates your kid is not a good look. He may not be cruel like her, but he is still the root of the problem.

    2- I would not tell a soul. If people knew, I’d be locked up at best and I don’t even want to think of the worst possible outcomes.

    3- I’ve not fully made up my mind on her dreams yet, though I think it’s foretelling the future, or maybe even giving us a look into the past, and I’m almost certain her suddenly dreaming again is related to the Nightmare.

    4- no way Emory didn’t also survive the plague. He just gives off that vibe and if that’s the case, I’m guessing the whole degeneration progress has already started for him. As for Ravyn, he definitely knows a lot more than he’s letting on.

    5- I can’t imagine her getting the card and now using it. I’d definitely be sorely disappointed if she didn’t, since the story has already made it explicitly clear it’s in her possession and it would be a bad thing to use it. It would almost be bordering on bad storytelling if she won’t use it and it won’t be relevant later on.

    Super excited to start the next few chapters! Reading on~

  18. 1.The stepmother is awful. I assume the father thinks he is protecting his daughter by sending her away & hardly seeing her but I wish he would be better.

    2. I would probably keep it a secret. People knowing would likely lead to imprisonment or execution.

    3. Was the Nightmare once the man from the dream? Is he the Shepherd King?

    4. I really want to know what Ravyn etc are up to.

    5. I have a bad feeling about the Maiden card

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