Hi everyone! Back again, haha 😀
Earlier today, I posted my review of Dune. I think sometimes, when I’ve finished books that I want to review on my blog in the same timeframe, I’ll post the reviews on the same day. So, here we go, part 2 of today’s book reviews!
I’ve tried to keep the events of the plot as vague as possible, but in the What Didn’t Work For Me section, there is a little spoiler…but if you’ve read a lot of YA before, it might not come as much of a surprise.
I bring you my thoughts on the YA novel Woven in Moonlight, published early this year. First off, WILL. YOU. LOOK. AT. THAT. COVER?!?!?!
Cover rant over…maybe 😏
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.
What Worked For Me
Ximena’s Character Growth
- Ximena, the novel’s main character, enters very stubborn and with one thing sustaining her — the need for revenge.
- Her people, the Illustrians, have suffered long, and she is pretending to be their leader in her best friend Catalina’s stead. When a messenger comes to take her to the Llacsans’ king, she takes the opportunity to become a spy, hoping to collect information about the magical relic (essentially a ghost conjurer) to turn the tides of the war in the Illustrians’ favor.
- But while Ximena is at the palace, her very way of thinking is challenged, and she begins to learn more about herself, and what she truly wants…not what the decoy Condesa should want.
- It takes a lot for a character to have a very strong willed, independent mind and be able to embrace a new, higher, ideal philosophy, and really change, all the while being believable.
- I felt that Ximena did this so well.
- For some reason, a lot of the books I’m reading these days, I’ve found troubles with the pacing.
- This book had a fast but easy-to-keep-up-with pace, and kept me on my toes.
- I was so intrigued I finished in two sittings.
- Many of Ximena’s decisions in the palace were sequential and carefully placed — each decision occurred at a specific time, as it could not happen at any other, and prior events allowed it to happen, and the event in question would lead on to more relevant ones…if that makes sense.
- I believe that this is an #ownvoices story (PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong!) and the plot draws on Bolivian politics.
- I’m a huge fan of political intrigue, and this book had a lot of it!!
- Also…those food descriptions 🤤
- I mean, they were just amazing, okay?
- A huge part of culture is food, and if you want an insight into Bolivian culture by way of food, this book will definitely be satisfying enough.
- There were also a lot of Spanish words (I believe) sprinkled in with dialogue, further adding to the wonderful authenticity of the setting.
- Okay, so Ximena can weave moonlight and Catalina can read stars.
- If that isn’t cool…what is?
- Ximena’s animals definitely needed more page time, and that jaguar has my affection.
- Another character’s magic is also quite unique — she is able to bring out the thoughts and desires of others physically near her through weaving tapestries.
What Didn’t Work For Me
Mild spoilers ahead…but come on, almost ten out of ten YA books will have romance as a subplot. It wasn’t unexpected, honestly.
- Me: Rumi is pretty cool. Nice banter going on between him and Ximena.
- Me after 30 minutes: Okay, Rumi’s taking a backseat. Ximena has chemistry with El Lobo now? Did I…miss something?
- Me after 60 minutes: Rumi’s back again. Suddenly he and Ximena are in love? DID I MISS SOMETHING AGAIN?
- Really, I expected them to get together because of the banter and also this is YA fantasy, what do you expect right, but still…can they please stay friends? haha.
- It was slow burn for the majority though, so that was good 😊
This novel deals a lot with prejudice, acceptance, equality, and freedom of speech.
Those poor two journalists! They had courage and determination to stand up for what was right, and I rooted for them, but their punishment was so sad. This just goes to show how important freedom of speech is.
Also…how does Isabel Ibañez come up with such gorgeous titles and covers? I’m SO excited for the next book, Written in Starlight.
Also, anyone else noticing how Ximena and Catalina are sort of like Adora and Catra (from She-Ra)? Haha, just saying. I was talking with the lovely Aditi @ One In a Million and we agreed it’d be so much cooler if Ximena and Catalina went from friends to enemies to lovers (a trope I need more of) and Rumi just stayed a friend…it would be hilarious to picture Catalina and Rumi just trying to get along for Ximena’s sake. But oh well, Written in Starlight still has quite the compelling premise, I’m eager to get inside Catalina’s head, she’s a very interesting character.
Violence. A mild amount of romance — to me, it essentially took up around 4 out of 300+ pages. Good deal, right? Still, when many of these scenes came around, I skimmed and skipped through. There’s also some language, but it’s not strong.
Final Star Ratings and Conclusion
Look at that…I’m finally using solid star ratings. The stars do not deceive this time. 4.5 / 5 stars.
Woven in Moonlight is a fast paced book with a well thought out plot, and is infused with vibrant magic and culture. Add political intrigue and strong character growth — what a wonderful debut novel.
In the comments below, let me know if you’ve read this novel or want to! Are you as in awe of the cover as I am? A fan of political intrigue too? Can’t wait to talk!! 😀