Title: Woven in Moonlight
Author: Isabel Ibañez
Published: 7th January 2020
Format: Fairyloot Edition, Hardcover – 384 pages
“No matter how many times I’ve used Luna’s rays to make thread, each time the shimmer of magic courses through me, it surprises me. I can feel my wounds, internal and external closing and healing. I am made whole. Not quite happy, but Luna’s soft touch heals what she can.” – Woven in Moonlight
Hello Hello! How are you all?
I’ve not been posting too much on here lately because of all my essays I’ve had to do for university, but I’ve finally submitted them all, so now I’m free to read and blog for a while before the last hurdle in April (and then I’ve finished, yay!!).
I received this book in my January Moon and Stars Fairyloot box, I really loved everything that was in the box, and so happy that this was the book included. I saw Reagan from Peruse Project over on YouTube talk about it a while ago and made a note to look into it, but never did (typical, right?).
I have to admit that this book was right up my alley, I love anything with a bit of betrayal, a bit of a secret, magic, myths, and legends, so this was a perfect read for me! Keep reading this post to learn my thoughts!
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.
Woven in Moonlight is a young adult fantasy standalone, written by Isabel Ibañez. The main character, Ximena is Catalina’s decoy, the true Condesa of the Illustrians, both trying to get back the throne taken from their people by Atoc, the ruler of the Llacsans. At the Illustrian Keep, life is getting harder and harder, so when Ximena is asked to go to the Castillo, she doesn’t hesitate because she knows that she can spy on the usurpers and bring them down from the inside. Ximena is a weaver and can use Luna’s (the moon) rays as a golden thread in her tapestries, and also send messages to the Illustrians hiding in la Cuidad to get word to Catalina. The story is told from Ximena’s point of view, it is really fast-paced and there are so many beautiful descriptions of her weaving and of food!
The story starts in the Illustrian Keep, a type of soldier’s camp that has been keeping the Illustrians safe from Atoc’s rule for about ten years since he took over Inkasisa and toppled the Illustrian royal family. We don’t get much information about the camp, but what we do get shows us just how desolate and tired these people are. There seem to be a lot of people stuck in the camp, while Anna, the leader of the camp goes out on errands to get food and try to spy on the Llacsans. While Anna is gone, Ximena, the fake Condesa takes over, and Catalina, the real Condesa sticks to her to advise her and help her. Ximena gets called to the Castle, and that is where the rest of the story takes place.
The Castillo is described as very garish and at odds with the crisp, white decor that Ximena is used to and that represents her people and their culture. The castle is a little way out of the actual town, and she visits la Cuidad quite a few times, revelling in the market that she walks through and the food that she eats there.
Ximena: She is the main character, and I instantly fell for her. At the start of the novel, she is trying to hold up the whole camp, even though it is not even supposed to be her role, and she has an immense weight on her shoulders. She comes across as very strong-willed, loyal, determined and down-to-earth. I adored seeing her relationships with Rumi and Juan Carlos develop, but also with her little woven animals! She is so passionate about her weaving, and I loved all the descriptions of her work, it felt really special and it was so beautifully described.
Catalina: She is the true Condesa and the niece of the last Illustrian queen. I didn’t really like Catalina because sometimes it felt like she didn’t really take into account that Ximena totally left her life behind in order to protect her and that the only thing she has to do is stay quiet until they can overthrow Atoc. I wanted to believe that she cared for Ximena and that she was truly her friend, but I struggled quite a bit with her character.
Rumi: He is the healer at the Castillo and one of Atoc’s family members. Straight away, he comes across as very moody, quite embarrassing and loyal to his king, to the disgust of Ximena. She despises the way he smells of earth and herbs because of his vocation and although at the start she really doesn’t like him, and neither did I, their relationship starts to evolve and they become closer. I really liked reading this.
Juan Carlos: He is the guard posted at Ximena’s bedroom door, and he is one of the only Llacsans that she doesn’t despise. He is witty, funny and chivalric and will always help her out when she is struggling. I really enjoyed reading about him and was rooting for him all the way.
Atoc: He is the “fake” king of Inkasisa, and he is an absolute tyrant. I hated him from start to finish, obviously, he is the villain, but he isn’t a cool villain, he is just mean. All of the characters were well developed and realistic, but Atoc was a bit less, I don’t think he needed to be talked about more because I hated when he was part of the story, he really is a horrible person.
El Lobo: He is the rebel in Inkasisa and a total mystery to everyone. He ambushes a lot of royal functions, breaks into the Castillo regularly, and lets prisoners loose. I knew that I was really going to like him and even though you don’t know who he is until the last quarter of the book, I really liked him as a character. He was loyal and witty and I was totally shocked but very happy when the author revealed who he really was!
Ximena’s woven animals: Ximena uses only white, grey, beige and black wool when she is in the Illustrian Keep, but when she gets to the Castillo, she asks for a loom and thread, and they bring her every single color imaginable. When she uses this wool with Luna’s rays, her animals come to life. This was such a lovely addition to the story and I enjoyed reading about her little animals so much. She ends up weaving so many and they are all so cute!
Magic: As I have already said, Ximena has the gift of weaving with Luna’s rays; but that is not the only type of magic in this book. The Llacsans have special gifts as well and they are known for their magic and their skills; Illustrians supposedly are never as good as them. Atoc has the power to create earthquakes and whenever he gets angry, he sets one loose. This is what ruined the city when he took over the throne. Rumi also has the ability to heal people, he only uses his plants on them, but he can heal by touch too. Ximena’s maid can warm up her bathwater with her hands. I loved all the magic that was interwoven in this book and it gave it a nice touch.
Secrecy: Starting with the fact that Ximena is Catalina’s decoy, the whole plot is based on lies and secrecy. El Lobo is the biggest secret in the book because no one knows who he really is and whose side he is on. Throughout the book, Ximena is looking for a bracelet that is kept hidden somewhere in Inkasisa and can supposedly raise the dead. These secrets weren’t exactly integral parts of the story, but I think they could have done with being a bit more central because they are only really focused on right at the end.
Bolivian culture and food: My favourite element from this book was definitely the culture and food described by Ximena. I haven’t ever read a book with Bolivian influences and this was such a lovely touch, it makes it so special and unique and you can’t help but be enthralled by all the beautiful descriptions. Food is a massive part of this society and there are so many instances where Ximena talks about the different food she is eating, it actually made me hungry reading it!
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
I was so happy to be able to read this book in February because I’ve been lagging behind on my Fairyloot books for quite a while. I read The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh back in October I think, and I struggled through it so much that I haven’t felt like picking up the books since, but I’m so glad I decided to give this one a shot.
I really enjoyed the story, it was fast-paced and very intricate, all the elements of Bolivian culture, food, magic, weaving were so nice and I enjoyed reading about everything. There are quite a few words in Spanish, but they are easy to understand, and if you don’t speak any Spanish at all, there is a small glossary at the end of the book, including explanations of all the different dishes described by Ximena.
This story was honestly magical and I had such a fun time reading it. I gave it 4 stars because sometimes I would have liked just a touch more information, or maybe a little less, and also, Ximena repeated herself quite a bit and it got on my nerves. We don’t get much information and descriptions about the characters or the Castillo and I felt that it was a shame because it could have been so whimsical!
Overall, I really liked this book and would recommend to anyone who likes fantasy, magic, art, food, Hispanic cultures, secrecy, and royal settings.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed my review, see you soon
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – Waterstones – Book Depository – Barnes and Noble – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Audible UK – Kobo