Review: “Woven in Moonlight” by Isabel Ibañez

One of my favorite photos ever.

As the Young Adult genre has stepped their game up with their cover art across the board, it takes quite a bit for a cover to so thoroughly encapsulate me that I want the book immediately with no questions asked. Woven In Moonlight’s cover is one of those pesky few. Add in the description on the back and the promise of South American mythology and history and the premise of it lured me in through and through.

The actual delivery was… well it’s been a day and a half since I read it and I’m still on the fence of how much I enjoyed it. 

Woven in the Moonlight captures the intense conflict between the Llacsans– a rebel group of Inkasisans who have overtaken the throne– and the Illustrians, the group who was overthrown years ago. Ximena is a “decoy” of the last Illustrain princess, who agrees to marry the Llacsan king in order to gain more information about a weapon that could lead to the Illustrians regaining the throne. As she lives amongst these people who overthrew her people years before, however, Ximena learns that there is certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to their rivalry. Also she weaves things out of moonlight sometimes. No big. 

On the one hand, I did devour it in a single sitting and I am moderately curious about the companion book, Written in Starlight, that’s coming out soon. So that’s definitely a good sign that I enjoyed it more than not, but I had a really hard time connecting with Ximena, who’s head I was supposed to be living in for 300+ pages.

Ximena is kind of a hot-tempered brat. She can’t control her mouth, even when it leads to several of her friend’s murders. She, and this is purposeful for her character growth I suppose, is prejudiced and haughty with little regard for those around her, even as she bemoans her position as “just a decoy” to the princess. 

Having said that, she is very much used as a conduit for growth. As Ximena learns more about the people around her and the circumstances that lead to the Illustrians being overthrown, her attitude does gradually change from “well your people being starved and beaten wasn’t my fault” to becoming conscious of her own privilege as an Illustrian. 

And that is one thing I applaud Ibanez for; she made the people Ximena fights so strongly for the bad guys. They were ones who were in the wrong due to their terrible mistreatment of those they deemed lower than themselves. It’s not often that we see revolution books depict the people who are attempting to do the overthrowing as maybe not the good guys. 

I really enjoyed the side characters of the novel, for what little fleshing out we get. Rumi, though he was a dick in the beginning and I couldn’t understand why he and Ximena were clearly going to get together, is one that also grows on you. His motivations are fascinating. 

Atoc was also a very interesting bad guy. Power corrupts, even if it was taken in an attempt to do good. I truly wish his relationship with his sister was more fleshed out, however. We only get a taste of why they’ve gone from besties as kids to “she’s the sacrifice now.” 

Actually there was a lot of things that could have been more fleshed out in the book in exchange for some of Ximena’s Deep Thoughts. 

One of my largest qualms with the book was the lack of focus and explanation of the powers some characters have. Everyone seems to have a little gift, but we don’t know why. We don’t know whether it’s the gods they worship or a gift of races? We just don’t know, and therefore the descriptions of Ximena’s abilities seem a little forced. 

So overall, it was a very fascinating concept and once I got to the last fourth of the book, I was deeply engrossed. But I did very often flutter in and out of concentration/patience for much of the beginning half. 


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