Woven in Moonlight is a beautifully written fantasy with world-building inspired by Bolivian culture. Complete with vigilantes, politics, magic, and food (people, the food), it was a recipe for a 5-star read. I am in so much love with this book, and I cannot wait for the companion book coming out in 2021.
Title & Author: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publication: January 2020 at Page Street Publishing
First Impressions: Ohmygoshohmygosh that gorgeous excuse for a cover.
Ximena lost everything when the Llacsans invaded her city and seized the Illustrian throne. For years, she’s been acting as the decoy Condesa for the last remaining Illustrian royal, determined to keep her queen safe. And when the Llacsan king Atoc demands the Condesa’s hand in marriage, Ximena goes in her stead, planning to work as a spy from the castillo in La Ciudad. But as the wedding date draws closer and closer, Ximena finds herself questioning all that she has grown up believing in. She has one chance to choose which side she’s going to be on, and the wrong choice could cost her her life.
We float between worlds, between two sides of a war, and the promises we’ve made to others. Everything fades away.
Abby the Bookworm
The inimitable Cait’s review @ Paperfury convinced me to immediately add this to my TBR, but I was NOT expecting to love this book so much. Let’s go step by step.
The characters. THE CHARACTERS. I LOVE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Ximena is the Condesa’s decoy, and her hot temper and sense of justice permeate every decision she makes. I admire her conviction to do what is right for her country, even if it means giving up what she holds dear. And the magic animals. THE SLOTH. AND THE LLAMA. They were so cuteee.
Rumi is the palace healer, as well as the false king’s cousin. I LOVE HIM. He’s sour and ill-tempered and grumpy, but also secretly soft and precious. He’s adorable and I want to give him a hug. The side characters in the castillo — Juan Carlos the friendly guard (those are the worst, am I right 😉 ?), Suyana the sharp maid, Tamaya the lovely princess — all captured my heart.
The world. OMG THE WORLD-BUILDING. The setting of Woven in Moonlight is a Bolivian-inspired fantasy world, combined with Bolivian-inspired politics and culture. The lush atmosphere of Inkasisa and the history that Isabel Ibañez writes for it is just… too good for words.
The magic system. Was. Incredible. We don’t get a specific explanation of how the magic really works, both among the Illustrians and the Llacsans, and I understand how that could have bothered some readers. But that just added to the charm for me, the simple presence of the magic like nobody questioned where it came from.
The plot. Most of the book takes place in the castillo of Inkasisa, so you might imagine not much happens. You would be wrong. The tension between Ximena and the Llacsans in the palace, Ximena’s secret espionage missions, the mystery of El Lobo’s identity, and the plot twists that kept on coming towards the end of the book all contributed to the heartpounding suspense of the plot.
The romance. The slowwwww burn was killing me in the best way possible. The chemistry — the chemistry, Y’ALL — had me smiling from ear to ear during each one of Ximena and Rumi’s interactions.
The theme. Ximena’s slow acceptance of the Llacsans and their cause was empowering to read as it developed, and the message that prejudice and hate get you nowhere really spoke to me.
Despite the danger, my protest had burst from my lips, from my heart. Because words empowered by justice can never be silenced.
And the food. The food. The descriptions of the food Ximena has each morning for breakfast at the castillo were a delight, and the glossary of Bolivian foods at the end of the book had my mouth watering.
I went into this book thinking it was a standalone, which I was glad about at first, but got sadder and sadder about leaving Inkasisa as I approached the end of the book. Now I am so glad there’s a companion book — about Catalina, too, whose character development is sure to be amazing.
Abby the Christian Bookworm: PATIENCE
I knew I had to choose this virtue for Woven in Moonlight as soon as I read the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition’s translation: … love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance)… (Galatians 5:22 AMPC). Part of what makes Ximena so endearing to the reader is her fiery temper, but it is important to keep in mind that impulsiveness can often be attributed to foolishness. As Proverbs says: Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly (Proverbs 14:29 NIV).
How about you? Have you read Woven in Moonlight? What did you think of it?