Book Review || Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

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 Illustrians 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 princess, 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.

  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
  • Pages: 384
  • Edition: Page Street Kids, Hardcover (January 2020)

[Published January 2020 | Source: Goodreads]

I have to admit, what initially got me into buying this book is the adorable cover. I mean, just look at it! It’s so vibrant and artsy. The sloth clinging to the G, the starry night, Luna chilling, El Lobo on the background peeking and seem to be scowling at Ximena, the bloody sword and dagger, and the other furry/scaly friends. What makes it more amazing is that the author designed the cover herself! She illustrated it and the lettering for the title and chapter headers is also her handwriting! (She’s so talented!)

Inspired by Bolivian politics and history, I didn’t know at first if I was gonna like this book. The word politics usually throws me off and I honestly don’t know much about Bolivia. I know they have awesome salt flats and it’s on my bucket list, but that’s about it. Thanks to Game of Thrones though, I now enjoy books/stories involving this certain political system: Monarchy. Ancient monarchy to be exact.

I was introduced to the colorful culture of Inkasisa, with lots of mouth-watering dishes and fascinating magical abilities. Right away I get to see Ximena’s struggles as a decoy of the real Condesa Catalina. How torn she is between playing the role of the Condesa and being a follower with her own voice. Ximena and Catalina, despite being best friends even almost sisters, have very different perspectives when it comes to leading the Illustrians.

Ximena is practical and strategic; diminishing the ration of foods in order to make the supplies last. While Catalina is softhearted to a fault; giving more rations than what they can afford to her subjects, despite knowing they won’t have enough supplies to cover the following days.

I’m not saying I don’t like Catalina. I definitely understand where she’s coming from. But this book isn’t about her so I’m trying to see through her character from the little scenes she was in. I’m sure she’ll have her chance on the next book.

Ximena’s magical ability was also introduced early in the story. It is fascinating as I’ve never read anything like it. She uses moonlight to create strands and then she weaves them into tapestries. While she weaves, the moonlight turns to moondust. According to Ximena, one breath of the moondust can knock someone for hours. It’s probably more potent than any other sleeping drugs out there.

During her stay at the Castillo, she slowly learned things about their enemies: the Llacsans. She saw the humanity in people she once placed in a box. She learned their side of the story and opened her eyes to the fact that the illustrians weren’t the only ones who suffered during the day of the revolt.

About halfway through the story, she discovers more about her magic—with the help of the colorful Llacsan wool Rumi gave her. In my envious opinion, she has the best magical ability anyone could ever have. She could even pass for a Disney princess.

Does she have Magic Hair? Tangled. Does that count?
Magic Hands? Definitely!
Do animals talk to her? No. But she can talk to HER animals and they understand her.
Poisoned? Fortunately, no.
Cursed? Based on how her life is going? probably.
Kidnapped or enslaved? Locked up in a cell, yes.
Do people assume all her problems got solved because a big strong man showed up? Nobody assumed anything because nobody knows, but yeah, this big strong man somehow helped with sorting some of her problems.

And also, I read somewhere that another princess qualification is having an animal sidekick. Well, Ximena has a damn menagerie.

Back to the actual review, I must say this book is both plot and character driven. At first, the characters were forced to deal with the aftermath of war; Illustrians were driven out of La Ciudad, with no freedom and proper source of food. As the story progresses, Ximena learned a lot of things, she has become conflicted between her duty and what she thinks is right. This is where the plot started to depend on her.

The characters are really well developed, each having their own backstory. This is important because for me to like a book, I have to like the characters first—and Woven in Moonlight did not fail me.

I love Ximena as a protagonist. She is strong and very resilient. She made some rash decisions early in the book but she learned how to be more calculating as she spent more time under her enemies’ roof.

Rumi, Ximena’s (and Yona’s) love interest, is a very lovable character. He makes me giddy every time he appears. I really dig solemn and mysterious fictional guys and I cannot lie.

Then there’s Juan Carlos who’s also very charming, the brave and daring Princesa Tamaya, the sweet and attentive Suyana and of course, the vigilante El lobo (aka Robin Hood).

Although there’s not much scene with the villain, each scene that he was in didn’t fail to remind me why he’s the villain. He’s greedy, cruel and merciless—corrupted by power. He did something really horrible at capitulo veintesiete and I will never ever forgive him for that.

The very atmospheric setting of the book was brought to life by the author’s vivid writing. I was so amazed by how she described those drool-worthy dishes, and the way she portrayed Inkasisa suddenly makes me wanna go to Bolivia. It makes want to explore the streets of Sucre, the city behind La Ciudad Blanca.

I read this book every night before bed so it kinda adds to the atmosphere of the story since most of the scenes happened during nighttime. I could only wish to see more Ximena and Rumi as I feel like they didn’t get much time together. Although I really liked that the romance wasn’t overbearing, I, at least, wanted to see them together under normal circumstances, no revolt or rebellion to think about… just them being cute and cuddly with each other.

I will end this review by saying that I really enjoyed reading this book. It made me feel a lot of things. Thank Luna I judged this book by its cover, because the inside is just as beautiful and magical as the outside.

“He reminds me of the perfect night. The kind of night that makes you want to get lost somewhere. The kind of night that invites adventure and misbehaving.”

Ximena, Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

5 / 5

4 thoughts on “Book Review || Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez”

  1. So glad I finally got to read your review Yona, it reminded me of all the great things I loved about Woven In Moonlight, especially the characters! Also, the Disney Princess reference? I agree 100% Ximena could totally be part of the Disney world💖🌙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading my review! ♥ It’s such a strong debut and it’s sad that we’ll have to wait for another year to get the second book. I hope we’ll get to see more of Ximena and Rumi because a whole book is not enough. T^T And yeah, Idk why, but she reminds me so much of Rapunzel, probably the lizard sidekick.🤣

      Liked by 1 person

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