{Review} WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT by Isabel Ibañez

Happy Book Day to...

by Isabel Ibañez! 

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  MY BANGED-UP SPOON SCRAPES the bottom of a barrel that should've held enough dried beans to last for three more months.
No, no, no.
There has to be more.

(pg. 1, US hardcover edition)

“The moonlight turns to moondust as I weave, fluttering to the stone floor like falling snowflakes...Pools of moondust gather at my feet, as though I've wandered into winter.


Whenever the current year comes to a close, I start to panic: What do I read last? What do I read first? What if I read a bum book and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth? What book deserves this special honor? Luckily, my final book of 2019 turned out to be a debut that swept me away and had me completely enamored. WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT by Isabel Ibañez is out TODAY, and it's hard to believe it's the author's first novel. I picked this up because it had recently arrived in the mail and I hadn't moved it out of the living room yet; I was lazy and didn't feel like going upstairs for a book, so I cracked it open and was immediately sucked into a lush, vibrant world.

WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT is fantasy, but also steeped in truth. Ibañez weaves in a tale of revolution happening now in Bolivia, and introduces the horrors to an audience who might not be familiar with Bolivian politics. It also weaves in the Bolivian culture, from clothing to food to ways of life. The book starts with a bang: readers quickly discover that Ximena is the decoy Condesa, and that her people's livelihood is in imminent danger. They're running out of food, and the false king who has stolen the Condesa's throne and killed their people has them cornered. He demands the Condesa's hand in marriage as the price of peace, so Ximena goes in Catalina's place and vows to find the source of his power and bring him down from within. In the process, she dives deeper into the history of her people and discovers secrets that could change the face of all she has ever believed in...

There is so much I want to say about this book, and so much I can't without spoiling everything. Instead, I'll focus on elements I loved. First, the food. This is one of those books. You know the ones. The ones that make you so hungry as you read. I especially loved learning about so many new foods and my mouth was constantly watering! Second, the magic system. I loved that everyone had a different type of magic, but it was all fueled by the moon. I loved that Ximena's power allowed her to weave moonlight, and that even moondust had a power of its own. Third, the slowburn. This is one of those books where you know how you want the romance to go, and how you're hoping it will go, and you slowly begin to root for the characters more and more, and scenes with them together begin to dance and come alive.

Best of all? This book is a stand-alone. How often can we say that anymore, especially when it comes to fantasy? I was amazed to find out that everything wrapped up so nicely at the end of the novel. There were two -- not loose ends, per se, but mentions of what was next for secondary characters that made me wonder if there would be a companion novel featuring them. When I looked online, I saw that Ibañez has a book slated for 2021 entitled WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT. After reading this book, it is easy to figure out who will be the main character of the companion novel with a title like that, and no spoilers, but it makes me wonder if my speculation will come true!

If you're looking for a book with a wonderful magic system, lush culture, and absorbing world, you need to pick up this brand-new release and add it to your TBR this winter!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: G ( Bastard )
Violence: PG13+ ( Characters are maimed and slaughtered and executed. One is punished by having his tongue torn out and his hands burned. One sentence mentions blood and bone splattering, or one that mentions a puddle of blood. Not overly graphic, but vivid use of language to get point across. )
Other: ( Koka leaf is being spread through the kingdom, and is a type of drug )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is really interesting.  When I first saw it, I was intrigued, but it was so busy and I didn't know quite where to look. As soon as I finished reading it, things started jumping out from the cover and I couldn't keep my eyes off it. I have spent so much time looking at this cover since reading this book, and like it more every time I look at it again! 

(Plus, I  really like this color palette, and the way the title is written in embossed silver, which makes so much sense upon reading as well!)
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Isabel Ibañez
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books / Macmillan
Received: For Review


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.