September 21, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Five Reasons To Read Two Twisted Crowns (The Shepherd King #2) By Rachel Gillig

Two Twisted Crowns (The Shepherd King #2) By Rachel Gillig

Goodreads summary for Two Twisted Crowns (The Shepherd King #2)-review below:

In the luscious, dark sequel to One Dark Window, Elspeth must face the consequences of what she’s wrought – perfect for readers of Hannah Whitten’s For the Wolf and Alexis Henderson’s The Year of the Witching.

Elspeth and Ravyn have gathered most of the twelve Providence Cards, but the last and most important one remains to be found: The Twin Alders.

If they are going to find it before the Solstice and cure the kingdom of the dark magic infecting it, they will need to journey beyond the dangerous mist-cloaked forest that surrounds their kingdom.

And the only one who can lead them there is the monster that shares Elspeth’s head. The Nightmare. And he’s not eager to share any longer.


Spoiler alert for One Dark Window (The Shepherd King #1) ONLY. Two Twisted Crowns is spoiler-free. This is especially true since I didn’t have an opportunity to review One Dark Window (I was on hiatus). A lot of what I discuss is applicable to both books.

Reason #1- Ione and Elm

I know. I know. I’m supposed to be talking about Elspeth and Ravyn or that people should ship Elspeth and Elm. But. Nope. And I apologize for nothing. I am the romance avoider. Yet, I was absolutely spellbound by the relationship arc between Ione and Elm.

<Ione> took the wine back. ‘Devloped a taste for removing my clothes, have you prince?’

That shut him up. Elm looked away. He wanted to break things. And her, rippin her dress like that, only maddened the desire.

Their movement through an uneasy alliance to friendship and, ultimately, lovers was both tender and brutal. Rachel Gillig wrote both individually and together with force. Ione wanted to find the Maiden Card and be released from its magic. While Elm was desperate to find his path, his strength, and purpose. Together, they united to untie Ione from the grips of the Maiden Card and work towards Elm’s full potential, his fight being realized.

Again, I am the one who shies from all things romance, and yet every time we left them for another storyline/POV, I waited with bated breath to return to them. I won’t apologize.

Rachel Gillig

Reason 2- World Building/Atmosphere

In One Dark Window, Rachel Gillig had already created an expansive and particularized world. Additionally, the dark, gothic atmosphere didn’t just have groundwork built; it was well-developed. Two Twisted Crowns does not lose this. In fact, it grows into an air of dread, mystery, and foreboding. Additional landscapes provide Rachel Gillig with the ability to play with bringing the setting to life, and she excels at it. One piece of the atmosphere, and landscape that was absolutely a thrill, was Elspeth’s arc throughout Two Twisted Crowns. However, discussing that further would lead to a load of spoilers for Two Twisted Crowns that I promised not to divulge.

Reasons 3- Magic

*Remember, I didn’t review One Dark Throne, so bear with me.* If the magic system created in One Dark Window was illuminating? It is like the Northern Lights in Two Twisted Crowns. Not only does it remain unique and central to the plot. But Rachel Gillig expands on the Providence Card system while also exploring more of its history. You can have the greatest magic system in the world, but if it isn’t flushed out, if the author doesn’t make it make sense? Then you can’t buy in, and the entire magic system becomes useless. Just like One Dark Window, Rachel Gillig provides readers with a magic system that isn’t just distinctive but presented in a way that readers will devour. Additionally, readers will revel in the history exploration and expanded utilization of the Providence Cards (both the good and the bad).

This also expands into the history of the kingdom, the Nightmare, and how/what history remembers.

Summary Review

Thank you to Orbit Books and Hachette Audio for an advanced audio ARC of Two Twisted Crowns by Rachel Gillig, which releases on October 13.

Reason 4- Writing (Rhymes/Poetry)

OMG how many times did I bookmark the rhymes and poetry that was written into Two Twisted Crowns? I think I nearly broke the app. I could quote them all day long but I’ll just go with one of my favorites (non-spoiler).

Your name-tree is cunning, they said, its shadow unknown.

It bends without breaking, though only half-grown.

The Prince becomes King, and the King takes the throne.

Will you come to the wood when Blunder’s y our own?

Rachel Gillig shines in writing these throughout the story. Not only in the mere creation of them (how even does she?) but in how they are utilized in the story. They elevate the mood, the mystery, the story and yet don’t take the spotlight away. They are a darkness in the corner, always watching, waiting. While supporting and elevating the plot, they never take it over.

Reason 5- Pacing

You could say you released the breath you weren’t holding, except you never have a chance to take that breath. Two Twisted Crowns jumps right into the deep end, taking off from the end of One Dark Window. Once you plunge into the story, it is rare that there is time to ever come back up for air. Because of the additional points of view, and undertakings, there isn’t a time when the change in chapter meant a break from the action. Instead, it just changed direction into a different piece of the adventure.

*Bonus- Audiobook

Lisa Cordileone is not a narrator I’ve heard much of. However, just like in One Dark Throne, she is a master of every character and intonation. Her vocal work throughout this duology doesn’t just capture the mood of the story but elevates it. Without her expert narration of the Nightmare to Ione and to Ravyn and back, the audiobook wouldn’t do the duology justice. However, she nails each personality, not just in who they are but how they sound. There is one other thing I could say about her narration of Ione, but that would be a high spoiler. Just listen for it!

Hachette’s production of the audiobook is perfect, labeling each point of view as they change.


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