Woven in Moonlight
- Author: Isabel Ibañez
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: January 7, 2020
- Publisher: Page Street Books
- Series: Woven in Moonlight #1
TRIGGER WARNING: gore, addiction, violence
A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.
Ximena is the decoy condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrious from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.
When Atoc demands the real condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.
She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princesa, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge — and her condesa.
The gorgeous cover is really what drew my attention to this book. It was on a display at the library, and I couldn’t resist picking it up. It’s got a beautiful and eye-catching design full of symbols pulled directly from the story. I loved how the cover looked, but didn’t really appreciate the full picture until after reading the book.
The story has a lot of words in Spanish interspersed throughout the story, but they’re mostly basic words and a lot of terms for food. I found myself looking up a lot of the words, and wish I would have realized that there was a glossary of terms in the back of the book! The food sounded amazing, and you can definitely tell that the author has a lot of love for her culture.
I could identify somewhat with Ximena. She’s tough and stubborn as hell, and doesn’t always think before acting on her angry emotions. That sometimes (read: ALWAYS) gets her in trouble. But I got so frustrated with her sometimes, especially when she continued to make the same dumb mistakes, and didn’t learn anything from her actions or their consequences. However, it can be difficult to stay silent when you always think you’re right.
“Because words empowered by justice can never be silenced.”
The magic system was pretty intriguing. Illustrians derive their magic from the moon, and I liked hearing about the abilities the characters had. Ximena’s magic was a really cool one — she can literally weave things using moonlight in her yarn, and I loved the descriptions of her tapestries. I almost expected to see her weavings appear before me after reading about them.
“Illustrian magic — magic from the heavens, the night sky — manifests in different ways and at different ages. For some, the magic is slight, like the ability to stay up all night. Manuel’s Moonsight gives him clearer vision when the sun dips into the horizon. Sofía can illuminate darkened rooms.”
However, the Llascan magic wasn’t really defined at any point. Their abilities seemed a lot more diverse, and I couldn’t figure out any sort of pattern. Atoc has the ability to cause earthquakes, while Rumi is a healer, and another character could create harm to the body. I wish that part was explained a little better.
I’m a firm believer that not all books need to include romance. This was definitely one of them. The romance wasn’t well-developed throughout the story, and it seemed to play a bigger role towards the end. I really didn’t see that it really needed to be there, and I don’t think it added much to the story, or it should have been fleshed out a little more.
Also in the glossary, it defined the names of the Llacsan characters in Quechua. Which of course, paired with the mention of how the story is also based in Bolivian politics, led me to look up the state of Bolivian politics. What I found led me to rate this book differently than I had originally intended. Here’s why:
So Atoc is clearly representing the former president of Bolivia (Evo Morales), who also happened to be the only indigenous president of the country. There’s a lot of clues that indicate that the Llacsans are the indigenous people of Bolivia, while the Illustrians seem to be the European-descended and Mestizo people of Bolivia. I know that the winners always do write history, and skew the telling to make themselves look good, but the way that the Illustrians seem hell-bent on playing victim and being oppressed because the “evil” Llacsans rose up and rebelled after centuries of actual oppression just didn’t sit right with me. I probably wouldn’t have picked up on this at all if I never bothered to just do some basic searching. But once you do know something, you can never unknow it. It absolutely affected my rating, and not in a good way.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 11
Categories: Book Review
I loved this review, I couldn’t agree more! I remember having big issues with the writer’s implicit bias, other than the poorly developed magic system and the annoying main character.
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It was so disappointing!
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Oh no, oh no. That doesn’t sound good… I actually haven’t paid that much attention to the reviews for this book although from what I’ve seen it’s mostly positive. But just reading that paragraph on the research that you did about the political history of Bolivia and how the story reflects that already makes me feel a little ‘ew’ about it. 😕 Hmm… The sound of the MC and romance is also kinda off-putting too 😂 Great review though, Leah! Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.
Right? It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t get so curious and look into the actual political situation! And of course I just got approved for the second book on NG 🤷🏻♀️