- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- Was Simon able to go almost a month in Crosscaper completely undetected by the Clockwork Three, or did they know he was there and just chose to leave him alone because they were amused by how much he was suffering?
- Edifice Greaves. Is he a self-centered and manipulative political smarmbucket, or just trying to protect the Order and genuinely concerned about a friend?
- In The Forever Court, Denizen is suffering a strong case of Survivor Guilt. He's been having nightmares about clocks, sleep issues, more trouble containing his rage than he used to, and is constantly on-edge. He blames himself for what happened with the Clockwork Three, and feels guilty about enjoying himself and even grieving. He actively tries to avoid thinking and talking about what happened; whenever anyone mentions Grey, he has an extremely strong emotional reactioneither he shuts down or he flares out. At one point, Mercy triggers an upsetting series of flashbacks that he has a physical reaction to. That sounds a lot like PTSD.
- Cliché Storm: An orphan is picked up by a mysterious relative, learns he has magical powers, and joins an order of magical world-saving knights. Pretty generic opening. This is Lampshaded, and was probably Invoked by the author.
- Contested Sequel: The Forever Court is either more complex and interesting, free from the generic beginning of the first book, or confusing and overly dark, introducing far too many unnecessary characters.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: It's really easy to see Mercy as Jesus. Although, given that there are actual religious references in the series, it might not be that much of a stretch...
- Harsher in Hindsight
- The entire prologue.
- When Grey fights the Bad-Dream Angel, the setting reminds Denizen of the Colosseum and the Gladiator Games. It's a pretty innocent comparison at the time, but takes on a completely different tone later, since a thrall is a slave, and Grey was forced to fight Vivian in a match supposed to be to the death. The fact that Denizen and Abigail were watching passively contributes to the imagery as well.
- Denizen getting defensive when he learns that Grey had to be left behind in Rathláth so D'Aubigny could take Denizen home. It's really sweet, but his repeated insistence that Grey has to be okay becomes incredibly painful when you consider that the Clockwork Three took Grey in Rathláth, so it basically marked the point when his suffering increased enormously. Sorry, Denizen, but he is definitely not okay right now.
- Heartwarming in Hindsight: Greaves telling Denizen, We don't leave people behind. He's talking about Grey, and the whole conversation comes across as a bit manipulative in general, but given how he welcomed the Croits into the Order later on, it's true.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: Denizen thinking that Grey—who we find out is literally a soldier—would never be let anywhere near a military camp.
- Memetic Badass: Vivian Hardwick.
- Narm: The fact that there's a Tenebrous named Mocked-By-A-Husband in the freaking Forever Court. Though this becomes slightly less funny given that one of its other names is Kuchisake, referencing a Japanese ghost story involving a woman who was mutilated by her husband...
- Nausea Fuel: The description of Grey's hand. It's Body Horror meets Squick meets disturbing implications.
- Paranoia Fuel: The idea of all shadows being doors that Tenebrous can come out of at any time, or you could wander into. Have fun trying to get to sleep tonight.
- Spoiled by the Format: Book onethere was no way that the Endless King was Breaching with that little left in the book.
- Squick: Denizen's eye exploding.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: It was definitely backed up by plot and character reasons, but Grey getting Put on a Bus in The Forever Court could still be disappointing for some people. He was one of the most likable and interesting characters, and a lot was set up surrounding him, much of which hasn't even been addressed yet. Still, Denizen's relationship with him was explored pretty deeply, and he managed to play a significant role despite being absent, so saying his character was wasted might be a little too harsh.
- Uncanny Valley: Ancient Tenebrous that try to disguise as human slip into this.
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: So much so that it's sometimes mis-categorized as YA. It's actually middle-grade, and handles some mature themes that the author thinks are important for the audiencethe whole book is an allegory for bullying, and the Cost represents self-harm. The book also includes total warfare, frequent mentions of (and actual) death, torture, so much nightmare fuel that it dips into the horror-fantasy genre, and, y'know, a character ripping a strip of flesh out of their own mutilated iron hand.
- The Woobie: Poor, poor Grey. It's hard not to feel incredibly sorry for (or at least pity) him, especially after learning how lonely he was, and about everything he did for Mercy. So much about his situation, and his complete breakdown in chapter 25, is heartbreaking, made worse by the fact that it had been going on for about half of the first book and no one noticed.
YMMV / Knights of the Borrowed Dark