Today I am excited to share my first review of my Hispanic Heritage Month read. This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and I am so grateful that I was able to get my hands on it!
I would like to thank the Canadian Manda Book Group for sending me an ARC! This is in no way affects my opinions!
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Pub Date: Jan 7th, 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books
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.
I really liked the plot of the book, it was very politically charged and dealt with themes of colonialism and revolution. It really shows how grey and complicated it is to discuss this subject, but also how necessary it is. The kingdom of Inkasisa has suffered centuries of conquest and has recently felt the rumbles of a revolt that has the kingdom headed down a rough path. Ximena, an Illustrian, was part of the group that was overthrown by the Llacsans. She had a very one-sided view of how the world worked and she was constantly painting the Illustrians as the victims. What I loved to read about was her growth in understanding that Illustrians were not blameless and that their racism led to this mass schism and eventual revolt. However, the book doesn’t show that the revolt results in perfect harmony either and I loved that Ibañez didn’t shy away from writing about the corruption of power.
I also loved how the author displayed this cycle of violence that persists when people choose to always focus on the differences between groups of people instead of A) embracing the diversity of cultures and B) Seeing the harmony that also exists between cultures. I know that Ibañez was heavily inspired by the political climate in Bolivia, which just makes this book all the more realistic and authentic.
The magic system had to be my favourite aspect of this book. Ximena’s weaving of moonlight (title epiphany!!!) was so cool. And while I don’t want to give too much away, I must say that the cover is quite a revealing piece…..*wags eyebrows* Lots of characters in the book practiced magic and I was super intrigued to see everyone explore their powers.
You’ll honestly probably be hungry after reading this book. Ximena does a lot of eating and there are so many delicious foods described in this book. Luckily there is a glossary at the end for those who want to know more about the tasty treats. Beyond the delicious food, there was a wonderful exploration of culture in the book. There was a lot of talk about traditions, clothing and religion. Most of it fiction, but a lot of it was drawn from Bolivian life. Safe to say that the world building is top notch and you really get immersed into the life and conflict of the people of Inkasisa.
I liked how the ending set up the companion novel. I really, really liked the drama at the end. It was bittersweet because it is a reflection of what happens in real life when opposing views sever bonds.
The characters were just not in it for me to win it. I feel like this is such a cop-out for not enjoying a book, but I cannot lie about how I feel. Ximena, whose name I forgot was Ximena half the time since everyone referred to her as “Condesa”, was a decent character to say the least. I wasn’t totally in love with her but I didn’t mind reading from her perspective. It was actually very interesting reading about her growth from this close-minded, hostile girl to a more open-minded one. I understand that pretending to be someone you are not is pretty much a guaranteed way to lose yourself, so I liked that we got this self exploration plot. I can’t say that I really connected with her. Maybe a little when she would talk about having to unlearn an almost heritable hatred and the discomfort of re-evaluating your whole life, but other than that…meh. There was nothing really exciting to look forward to with her, this feels like such a horrible reason for not enjoying a character…
Rumi fell so flat to me. I…couldn’t. Like I found nothing remotely intriguing about him and I cannot even think of one thing right now that made him interesting. It’s not that he was bad and I in no means hate him, but he was just there. I didn’t connect to him in any way which is upsetting because I really wanted to find him interesting.
The other characters were slightly more intriguing. Like Atoc, the dictator, although he was pretty nasty. The priest guy and Atoc’s sister were also very, very interesting. They had lots to do with the twists which I really like.
The romance, I did not buy. It really tried to sell me this enemies to lovers thing which did happen, but I didn’t find myself involved. It probably has to do with my lack of connection to the characters. I just felt nothing. I had no feels. How do you ship, if you have no feeeeeellllzzzzz.
The pacing was quite slow and there weren’t many action packed moments. The author does kind of make up for it with some twists and secrets. But the single most important twist was so obvious, I just couldn’t.
Overall, this book was good, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Maybe I aimed too high with my expectations which is the likely culprit of my disappointment. I hate to call it disappointment though because this book has a really important message and I think that the YA world really needs to read this message.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Recommend: Yes, on the basis of the plot and it’s overall meaning.
Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to picking this up? What politically charged books do you enjoy? Have you ever had the problem of not connecting to characters?