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Woven in Moonlight #1

Woven in Moonlight

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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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published January 7, 2020

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About the author

Isabel Ibañez

7 books1,376 followers
Isabel Ibañez was born in Boca Raton, Florida, and is the proud daughter of two Bolivian
immigrants. A true word nerd, she received her degree in creative writing and has been a
Pitch Wars mentor for three years. Isabel is an avid movie goer and loves hosting family and
friends around the dinner table. She currently lives in Winter Park, Florida, with her
husband, their adorable dog, and a serious collection of books. Say hi on social media at

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,952 reviews
Profile Image for Marquise.
1,711 reviews398 followers
July 16, 2020
The book purports to be "inspired by Bolivian politics," but the reality is that it's based on a perpetuation of Bolivian stereotypes with a sprinkle of local mythology to give this fetishisation of the exotic a feel of genuineness. That the author got this second-hand from her parents doesn't make this any less poor a portrayal, and might in fact be another reason for why it's so.

The problem here is that this author divides the people in this world, Inkasisa, into two camps: the "good" illustrians, which are very recognisably the Mestizo & Spanish portion of the Bolivian population as anyone familiar with the country will notice, and the "bad" Llacsans, who are the indigenous peoples of Bolivia, clearly, and whose leader is very obviously based on Evo Morales, the former socialist Amerindian president of Bolivia. In Bolivia, there's historically been tensions between these two demographics and a West/East divide that's driven much of the turmoil the country has experienced in its history, so Ibañez's bias is made obvious by her portrayal of the aristocratic Good Guys and their leader, who she describes as having ousted and killed the Illustrian royalty "out of ungratefulness," and who makes a drug that is his "main export" (that anyone will recognise is cocaine). Now, to put it in real-world terms, she's saying the indigenous peoples are the villains here and perpetuating the bad reputation of Bolivia as a country of cocaine exporters. Stereotypes much? This is as bad as inventing a fictional world based on Mexico in which the white and mixed-white population are the rightful dethroned rulers and the Mayan/Aztec population are the ungrateful villains for shaking off their chains, and whose economy is all drug-based.

Think of it, would it pass? Would this book be as popular and get as many high ratings if people realised this? Or if the world was based on the US, with the whites as the good Illustrians and the Native Americans as the bad Llacsans? No! Of course it wouldn't. Then, why is this book given a pass? All I can think of is: because most readers aren't aware of Bolivia's reality and complicated politics. The less you know of a remote and little-known country, the easier to fetishise it and ignore issues in media portrayals of it.

And, mind you, I do get Ibañez's point about Morales & socialism being very negative for the country of her parents. However, I do not give her a pass because that is the GOVERNMENT, NOT THE PEOPLE. You can hate socialism in Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, all you like, and you'd be right to hate it given what it has done to those countries and its long-suffering peoples. That doesn't give you any right to insult the people (and your readers' intelligence) with a Manichaean and poorly written black-and-white novel with a strong whiff of racism and ethnocentrism that you attempt to handwave in the name of hating socialism.

Also, I wonder what Eastern Bolivians would say about this novel's caricaturisation of their culture, very different to the Western Bolivian one this novel takes and runs away with to build its world on.

Now, the novel also has other problems besides the above. The worldbuilding is so very weak that all Ibañez did was just change names or put them in Spanish ("La Ciudad Blanca" would be Sucre, the capital, I guess. Not even subtle, since the actual city is called that often even now). So, again, anyone familiar with Bolivia will recognise how it's merely changing the names and altering some details of the real country for this fictional one. Lazy writing, that.

And speaking of lazy writing, Ibañez is guilty of what has become one of my most hated literary sins: bad use of a foreign language. She drops words and entire phrases in Spanish every other passage, and very needlessly so, as the stuff she puts in Spanish is stuff that can stay in English just fine. Does this author think that saying azúcar instead of sugar, primo instead of cousin, qué? instead of what?, etc., etc., is going to make her world more believable or realistic or whatever she thinks it will? All those words are basic Spanish that you could learn at school or look up on Google. I can understand the use of Quechua and words in Quechua that convey something better than Spanish, but all these are just basic words for basic everyday stuff. I mean, she even put "azúcar = sugar" in her Glossary. That's really laughable. Not to mention that she also becomes repetitive by saying it first in English and then in Spanish ("I'm sorry" and then "Lo siento" in the same sentence), aaand... something that's told me a lot about her research: she makes her oh-so-Bolivian character say a slang word in Spanish that Bolivians don't say but Spaniards do.

Sigh, now I'm getting a headache thinking of all the issues in the novel. I'm cutting it off here and leaving it at that, I think I've made my point already.
Profile Image for Isabel Ibañez.
Author 7 books1,376 followers
February 27, 2020
Hi everyone!

I don't spend a lot of time on Goodreads but as WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT heads out into the world, I wanted to quickly mention a few things!

First, WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT is a standalone, but the Inkasisa world is expansive so I imagine there might be a few stories I can still hope to write! The next book set in this world is WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT, and while the story takes place directly after the events of WIM, it can be read on it's own—though you might enjoy it more if you read them in order. :)

Secondly, I get this question a lot, but yes, the antagonist is inspired by a real person and his actions. He is dangerous, corrupt and powerful and affecting thousands of Bolivians by his leadership. South America has a long history of such people in power, and you only need to look at what's happened to Venezuela to see the horrifying and truly heartbreaking results.

I also thought I'd mention a couple of content warnings: Graphic Violence + Death/Executions. WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT is very much a revolution story, filled with politics and inspiration from events that have happened in Bolivia.

Lastly, thank you so much for reading! I appreciate it so much. <3


P.S. I’m editing this comment to add that the preorder campaign for WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT is LIVE! Details can be found on my IG (@IsabelWriter09). 💛 All preorders, including from international folks will receive: an art print, three character cards, a bookmark, and one sticker. There’s a grand prize, too (details in IG post from Nov. 20th). Just make sure to email your preorder receipt to IbanezPreorders [at] gmail [dot] com by January 6th!

Thank you so much! 🥰
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
February 12, 2020
came for the gorgeous cover but stayed for the latin american representation, lush magic, a swoon-worthy rebel, fluid writing, THE MAGIC SLOTH, and the slow simmer into an explosion of an ending.

while there really is a lot to love about this, my main complaint would some aspects of the world-building are lacking. im not sure if it was mentioned and i just missed it, but i cant remember reading about why there is magic and why people have different kinds of it. its not really explained - the reader just kind of has to accept it, if that makes sense. not a deal breaker, but just a minor critique.

overall, this is a really lovely debut. im intrigued to see where the story goes. i know there isnt going to be a sequel but rather a second book which takes place in the same world, after the events of this novel. regardless, im sure it will be just as magical.

4 stars
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.5k followers
February 11, 2021
Two things to say about this book:
1) This is getting a lot of backlash for allegorically condoning racist sentiments and stereotypes about native Bolivians. As a reader, I thought the point of this book was that our protagonist begins the story filled with racist thought due to a prejudiced and propagandized upbringing, which she ultimately grows out of after interacting with plenty of the people she was previously bigoted against. I didn't realize this was a problem other readers had until after finishing the book, and because it didn't occur to me while reading, I'm not going to speak on it. I recommend reading a variety of reviews and judging for yourself.
2) It didn't work for me for other reasons. I didn't care much for the characters or the romance, the plot felt clunky, the world-building left a lot to be desired, and even the above racist-to-not racist character development felt a bit after-school-special - clichéd, cheesy, and unconvincing.

That's all I got.

Bottom line: Didn't work for me, but not for quite the same reason it didn't work for everyone else!


do you ever start and finish a book in a sitting and then get stressed out because you never updated goodreads for it??

...yeah, me neither.

review to come / 2 stars
March 2, 2020

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I picked up WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT on a whim because it was offered to me as an ARC and I thought the cover was really pretty. I was a little leery, though; the cover looked cutesy and cutesy fantasy rarely sits well with me. But this is one of those instances where the cover doesn't really match the book. WOVEN IN MIDNIGHT looks like it's going to be a sweet and sleepy middle grade fantasy story about some brave and plucky girl.

Instead... it's dark. In some ways, it actually reminded me of one of my favorite YA fantasy books, THE WINNER'S CURSE. Set in a made-up land inspired by Bolivian history and politics, the main character, Ximena, acts as the "decoy" princess to the true ruler, Catalina. Catalina is soft and weak, so Ximena acts in her stead to fool the usurpers in case they ever attack.

Which they do. And of course, Ximena goes in Catalina's place to their cutthroat and terrifying court where she meets the terrifying Atoc, a man who has risen up against his oppressors but who has let power corrupt and brutalize him. Now he is just as cruel as the people he claims to be fighting against, if not more so, and he's demanding that Ximena marry him.

There are two small gleams of hope. The first is a figure called El Lobo, a masked vigilante who's like a cross between Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel. He doesn't agree with Atoc's strongman totalitarianism and isn't afraid to say so. The second is Ximena's own magic ability; she can weave with the threads of the moon and imbue her tapestries with magic.

WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT has it all-- swashbuckling, forbidden romance, masked and dashing heroes, magic, court intrigue, strong heroines, adorable sidekicks, drugs and trafficking, high stakes, and difficult conversations and questions. It doesn't condescend or talk down to its audience at all. The world-building here is great, and the influence of Bolivian culture is strong with beautiful descriptions of art, lavish and mouthwatering foods, Spanish dialogue and words (as well as indigenous ones). The balance between the light and the dark was really well done.

I think there's going to be a sequel and I'm really curious to see where the author takes it from here!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  

4 stars
Profile Image for Olive Fellows (abookolive).
584 reviews4,735 followers
September 16, 2021
See my review on Booktube...

And the below review originally appeared on Open Letters Review.

Inspired by Bolivian culture and history, Isabel Ibañez spins a glittering and richly drawn story in her young adult fantasy debut, Woven in Moonlight. A tale of revolution, loyalty, and identity, it begins with a shaky show of leadership by heroine Ximena Rojas, giving her questions about her ability to rule over her people, the displaced Illustrians.

Her self-doubt has roots. Unknown to all but a few within their circle of refugees, Ximena is not the true condesa of the Illustrian people, but a decoy for the actual queen, Catalina. Ximena has been dedicated to her stand-in role since being selected in childhood based on her resemblance to the last Illustrian royal. Now an adult, she fully understands the necessity of such a scheme to protect the physical safety of the condesa, the last hope of their people. And though falsely holding the power of condesa may give a less moral character a craving for the real crown, our heroine’s greatest desire is not to rule, but to stop playing the pretending game:

It’s an honor to protect Catalina. To give up my life for hers should it come to that. And despite my duty, despite the long years of living as somebody else, I love her. As a sister, as my future queen. Sometimes, though, that kind of love just isn’t comfortable.

Fake or not, the condesa is summoned by the Llacsan king Atoc to La Ciudad Blanca, the capital of Inkasisa that he claimed years prior using the dark magic of an ancient artefact called the Estrella. As usual, Ximena takes Catalina’s place in a journey to the castillo, hoping to find some way around the false king’s demand for her hand in marriage after she arrives. In the meantime, she begins putting together a plan to get her own hands on the Estrella to exact Illustrian revenge and put the real Catalina on the throne.

She may be battle-trained, but Ximena is still unprepared for the dangers lurking around every corner of the castillo. The Llacsans at the king’s side don’t take kindly to who they believe to be the queen of the opposing faction and Atoc’s rage, easily provoked, triggers violent powers. He’s particularly prickly about a masked vigilante, El Lobo, repeatedly causing trouble for the crown yet remaining at large. Ximena hopes this stranger can be an ally, should their paths cross.

The decoy condesa has little hope for any additional assistance in the castillo, as her outrage over the suffering of the Illustrians during Atoc’s uprising nips at any Llacsan in her path. But as she lets her guard down with those charged with her care as Atoc’s intended, she begins to learn more about her enemy and the root of the revolution that saw her people cast out of the city. The longer she resides in the castillo alongside the Llacsans, the more it seems that matters may not be as clear-cut as she once thought.

Though she’s stand-in royalty in title, Ximena as a heroine is the genuine article. Although her devotion to Catalina does prove to have its blind spots, her focus is always on the good of her people. This loyalty even lies at the heart of what makes up both her artistic expression and magical gift. We’re told that the Illustrians, serving Luna, Goddess of the Moon, each have unique powers granted by the moonlight. Ximena is an expert weaver and by night, she can incorporate threads of moonlight into her ornate woolen tapestries:

I work the incandescent thread, over and under again, building a scene of the night sky. The moonlight turns to moondust as I weave, fluttering to the stone floor like falling snowflakes. In what feels like minutes, a new tapestry winks back at me. A glittering silver work of art that lights up the small room. Pools of moondust gather at my feet, as if I’ve wandered into winter.

Ximena uses this skill to attempt to communicate with her people while imprisoned at the castillo, which gives her some surprising advantages but also unintended drawbacks. Besides its plot usage, the weaving aspect also enriches the story with Bolivian heritage and brings it to life with Ximena’s passion for the craft. Readers will half expect to look up and see a finished tapestry, shimmering with moonlight, after they finish a passage detailing her handiwork.

Though some of the heroine’s internal strife could, at times, belabor the point, the story moves at a steady pace and provides ample food for thought, fitting for palettes of all ages. The author keeps a command of the writing, direct and purposeful, as well as the reader’s attention. Natural slower periods in the storytelling are equally as entertaining with skillful worldbuilding, mouth-watering food writing, and, of course, Ximena’s beautiful weaving.

Truly, this novel is full to the brim with heart. Ximena’s touch can’t only spin moonthread, but also encircles the whole story with authenticity. True bravery can be found in admitting there are things one may have gotten wrong and Ximena’s willingness to keep an open ear to things that may change her perspective makes her not only an engaging guide through this story, but also an admirable young woman, herself worthy of emulation.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
929 reviews802 followers
February 18, 2020
4 stars

Ximena can weave moonlight into lush tapestries of wool, and sometimes they come to life. When her people need her to infiltrate the enemy's kingdom to take down the false king, Ximena doesn't hesitate—she's ready to fight. But what happens when the cause you've been fighting for becomes more gray than black and white?

World: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Dialogue: ★★
Pacing: ★★★

Ximena's job is to be the decoy Condesa, who is the true heir to the Illustrian throne. The Illustrians were recently overpowered by Atoc, the leader of the Ilyacans, in a bloody battle that decimated the current ruling powers and made way for a new regime. But all is not well in this new rule, and the Illustrians desperately want their kingdom back.

When Atoc demands the hand of the Condesa in marriage, Ximena knows she must go in the princess' stead. Entering into the belly of the beast, all Ximena has to rely on are her wits, her family's culture, and her magical moonlight weaving—which she plans to use to send secret messages to her people.

But Ximena soon realizes that the playing field isn't all that it seems, and it will take an interesting cast of characters—including a masked vigilante, a trapped princess, and a broody healer—to change her black and white beliefs on an entire community of people. Sometimes the "enemy" isn't evil....

This was such a fun story. I liked the world building and the descriptions—this world is described as "lush" in the blurb, and that's so accurate—and I really enjoyed Ximena's character growth throughout the story. Also, even though the plot felt extremely predictable, it did surprise me a few times!

The only real negative for me was the stilted dialogue. Woven in Moonlight really struggles for the first 50% with what feels like extremely scripted, surface level dialogue interactions. Real people don't talk like they're regurgitating rehearsed lines...and sometimes Ximena's interactions felt like B-list theater plays, where none of the conversations feel organic. This does improve throughout the novel (or maybe I got used to it, let's be real) but it was still something that kept me from getting fully invested into the plot from the get-go.

Thank you to Page Street Books via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,316 followers
April 30, 2020
I read the first couple chapters of this a while ago, and I was excited to see more of Inkasisa. There was magic and Bolivian history and politics and some pretty stark realities we don’t see often in YA fantasy (like food shortages and ration lines). But all of that seemed to melt away pretty quickly and the story devolved into a trope-heavy and predictable offering from this genre.

I’m not sure if this has been given a name, but there’s a particular type of plotline that I think of as ‘captive in luxury’, which I’ve become increasingly exasperated by. It’s typically a young woman who is held against her will in a lavish setting with servants, elegant gowns, an abundance of decadent food, etc. But she is very angry about being forced to sit around & eat bonbons all day and takes it out on whatever poor sap has to be her keeper. She lobs sarcasm at anyone who crosses her path and feels bad about being surrounded by all that opulence for approximately two seconds before indulging in another bubble bath.

I know this is a pretty cynical take on this type of character, but it’s just been done so much and I dread it every time it starts to happen. There’s this vibe that’s not unlike a bunch of rich celebrities or corporations singing about ‘coming together’ while the rest of the world is suffering. I dunno, maybe I’m just sensitive to that kind of thing at the moment.

As for the book itself, Isabel Ibañez is not a bad writer. The characters are grating, but her descriptions are lush and inviting. The magic system isn’t elaborated much on, so you just kind of have to go with it. It’s not really explained how moon dust makes you sleepy, but also lets some people see the future and can be used by others to weave magical tapestries? I wish we had gotten more of Bolivia and the setting as opposed to whatever bullshit Ximena is getting up to with her Stockholm-Syndrome family. And even though there’s a lot of death, you don’t really form emotional attachments to the characters, so they’re no biggie.

I’d still be willing to pick up more from Ibañez, all that said. This one just disappointed me, despite the pretty cover. Oh publishers, why do you do this to me?? 😩
Profile Image for Tani.
245 reviews256 followers
October 27, 2020

Warning: Spoilers and cursing ahead. Read at your own risk.

Let's unpack this shitcase. Have you ever worked hard for something but ultimately failed at it? This is how I'm feeling right now.

First, let's talk about the good.
-The world building is awesome.
-The cultural representation is refreshing.
-The stereotypically feminine characteristics are shown as strength.
-The political undertones were rightly hit in the nail.
-The beginning was a kick-start.
-The blurred lines between morally black and white were done right.

But how could a book jump from compelling to mediocrity?

By ruining the ending. Those fudging nine chapters ruined it all.


No, I'm all for romance if it suits the plot but if you add bacon in the coffee, it loses all of it's flavour. You can't start off with a violently dark beginning only to end up with unicorns and rainbows. You can't expect for things to fall into places by themselves.

And stop withholding information just to make your story mysterious. Not only it shatters the reader's hope but also diminishes whatever effort you've put in the beginning of the book.

Don't even ask me about how this book destroyed the characters. Ximena was a badass protagonist we were rooting for who turned out to be the Mary Sue in the end. How dare you destroy Rumi, Atoc and Sajra's characterization? Rumi went from bubbling sweet guy to major alpha jerk, Atoc's intimidation all together vanished and Sajra lost his initial dominating power.

The plot was predictable and it offered nothing new on the table. The ending was filled with deus ex machina which conveniently dismisses the efforts of the protagonists. The random addition of characters and undeveloped characterization of the plot facilitators doomed the book.

Don't mind me crying out my tears of frustration.


Buddy read with Nina, Kuwei and Jesper
Profile Image for Rue.
274 reviews217 followers
June 11, 2020
Who knew I would dislike a book solely because of the last 10 Chapters. But here we are...

While I liked the concept of this book the execution wasn't right. It's definitely atmospheric, the writing sucks you in from the get go. It has solid plot points, atleast in the beginning. Okay yeah! The magic here was unique. But the protagonist didn't include it as much other then for making tapestry and cute animals. I mean if you are mentioning a flexible magic system I want to see it in action. That certainly didn't happen in like 25 chapters (Granted the book is only 29 chapters long so....You decide)

Now let's talk about Ximana. Dear God, Help me!

Look if the synopsis says she is a decoy and has been trained in combat and making decisions on behalf of the Condesa. Then it's not wrong for me to think that she will put some brain cells into work and think clearly. But instead we get a girl who's basically airheaded.
I mean...If you are making impulsive decision to kill someone, end up killing your own friend, and get trapped in enemies castle without informing anyone, means you have fucked up xD in short!

The side characters aren't as fleshed out. Which makes them feel unnecessary. They either serve the purpose to feel like El Lobo or to get the water at just the right temperature so she can bath.

Okay so Sajra, Right?!
The evil guy who knows black magic and what not...
If you are like me who thought there would be an epic battle where they would take him and Atoc down.
Then here's something for you...

The big reveal at the end wasn't even that big. Who are we kidding here. You really thought we wouldn't know?

All in all I was hoping to like another fantasy, since I am in a mood to read those. But This wasn't it. What I am really thankful is the food that were mentioned here. They were very tempting.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Stuck here reading with an INTJ,
ENFP,& INFJ ( bunch of silly people)

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews290 followers
September 30, 2020
ADDITION: recently, i’ve been made aware of the questionable elements of this novel more explicitly. earlier this year (2020), there was a discussion going on about the portrayal of indigenous bolivian culture & its people versus the portrayal of descendants from the colonizers of bolivia.

colonization is a theme within this novel and the main character is quite harshly confronted with her opinions and prejudice towards the indigenous characters. however, the onus is still put upon the indigenous characters to show the colonizer the error of her ways.

as someone with ZERO understanding of current bolivian politics, as well as someone who has never lived its colonial reality, it is really not my place nor within my ability to accurately judge this issue.

this review by marquise explains the book’s problems better than i ever could, and i think it’s important to keep this in mind when (considering) reading it.

cande from latinx magic also has a very solid review on their blog that i can 100% recommend. they also have a follow-up review on the sequel, which is apparently way worse :(

i’ll leave my original review unaltered below.


“but our way of life, our culture, is gone, like pages torn from a book.”

this is a little gem of a debut that’s light on the fantasy, and heavy on its inspirations from bolivian culture, customs, and history. its central themes also make themselves known pretty early on: colonization, corruption, and revolution.

ximena rojas, decoy to catalina, the true condesa and her best friend, has suffered being under siege for long enough. her people are without food and she’s got a surplus of anger stored away, ready to slit throats if she has to.

an opportunity presents itself when king atoc proposes enforces a marriage between himself and the condesa -- ximena goes in her friend’s stead, hoping to send sensitive information back home by using her magic art of weaving strands of moonlight into tapestries.

however, once back in the city she considered hers after ten long years in exile, ximena is forced to confront her biased worldview and derogatory beliefs; was the city ever hers?

the imagery of this novel is evocative, and its magic whimsical. it basically breathes its beautiful world right at you, blooming with lush descriptions of architecture, food, and textiles.

(not gonna lie, i spent about 60% of my time reading this with my mouth watering. the fact that the glossary in the back has an entire section dedicated to food should tell you all you need to know.)

that said… if this book is a gem, it’s most definitely a diamond in the rough.

it reads somewhere halfway between a fairy-tale-esque book for middle-graders and a more serious fantasy for young adults. at times, that contrast can get jarring: the ideas are pretty big and adult and yet the plot remains predictable. some threads of it are simplistically and/or almost too easily resolved.

you never get a true sense of who the villain is and why they suddenly turned to cruelty. at the end of the story, some people with dubious motives just go and fuck off in the jungle. themes are there (does ximena still have an identity of her own after pretending to be the condesa for over eight years? are her people who she thought they were?), but they’re rarely thoroughly explored.

there’s also always time for cutesy, sarcastic banter… while the rest of the country tears itself apart in civil unrest through drug addictions and lack of resources while former oppressors try to better themselves over the backs of the oppressed. yes, that sure is some contrast.

and by now i can already hear you thinking: “so what about that jarring contrast between so much criticism and a high star rating, huh, jade?”

‘cause i LIKED reading it anyway, you bunch of malcontents.

you’ve got a masked vigilante with questionable loyalties, a new and diverse setting in white-and-always-sexy YA fantasy-land, a sweet slowburn romance, a revolution in the making, AND it’s tackling colonialism. oh, and there’s magical woolly animals.

this story has nuance, it’s colorful in every sense of the word, and the possible love interests defy or subvert their standard YA cookie-cutter molds. i liked it a lot better than anything else i’ve read in this genre so far.

in conclusion: i was entertained, fascinated, and hungry for more. what else could i possibly want?

3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 35 books4,018 followers
May 30, 2021
Review for Tor.com https://www.tor.com/2020/01/08/moon-m...

TL;DR - A take on Latin American/Andean history and politics. It's inspired by Bolivian history and the post-conquest between the peoples of Bolivia and the conquering Spaniards. I wasn't sure I'd like Ximena from the jump because of who she is. She's close minded and thinks everything she's doing is for her people, without realizing that her people are the conquerors. But her journey is about unlearning her bias and the lies she's grown up with. It's definitely not a narrative for everyone! But if you like Children of Blood and Bone, Shadow and Bone, and other books where the story line focuses on warring peoples unlearning hatred and biases, this might be for you.

Promising debut author. I'm excited for her medieval Spanish fantasy Together We Burn TOGETHER WE BURN coming 2022.
Profile Image for sarah.
392 reviews262 followers
December 9, 2019
Woven in Moonlight was an impressive debut from Isabel Ibañez.
The fantasy setting, based off Bolivia was refreshing and unique. The atmosphere was enthralling and immersive. Descriptions of the food, clothing and palace made the world tangible.

Woven in Moonlight covers the aftermath of war and the intricacies of morality when nothing is black and white.
There were clear parallels between political and cultural aspects of past and present Bolivia, and the Spanish Inquisitor overthrow of the native Incan people.

The characters were a bit hit and miss for me. For the most part I liked our main character, though she could get on my nerves at some stages. I loved Rumi and his sarcastic banter. I thought Atoc was a well developed villain who definitely gave me the creeps. However some others felt a bit one dimensional to me.

I personally was a fan of the romance! It was slowburn- but that paid off in the end. I would love to read more books following these characters.

The magic of this book was what really brought it to life. Abilities such as magical weaving and reading the stars just elevated it to another level.

It was hard to believe this is a debut, as the writing was lyrical, descriptive and beautiful.

Isbañez masterfully wove those elements into a whimsical and intoxicating novel.

My main problems with this story was
1. It was very predictable.
I guessed very very early on who El Lobo was, and thought it was so obvious that it couldn't possibly be him. But no, I was right.

2. The story lacked the tension that should be present from being a decoy in the midst of the enemy. She was more focused on her inner turmoil than her surroundings and it showed, I was very surprised no one figured out she was a decoy- she didn't make it difficult. I would have expected since she had been the Condesa's decoy since she was so young- she would be... better at it?

overall, I would recommend this one when it releases in January 2020
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this title.
Profile Image for Fanna.
992 reviews505 followers
September 27, 2020
January 19, 2020:

Woven in Moonlight weaves clashing cultures and strong women with a loom placed on societal consequences of war, stepping into enemy grounds, fighting for yourself and your people, and learning, understanding, loving what you once thought you never could. A definitive recommendation for those who love a diverse background and POC in a mixture of politics, history, and magic. Animals literally woven in moonlight, a mysterious vigilante, a handsome healer, and the incorporation of language & food into the world built through these pages is like an icing on the cake!

November 23, 2019:I never knew politics and history would sound so good once they got together with magic, but here I am! Super excited to read this for a blog tour. Received a digital copy via Netgalley.
Profile Image for Adrienne Young.
Author 15 books9,914 followers
November 12, 2019
Isabel Ibanez brings a modern story to an ancient world in her debut novel, WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT. With immersive prose, original magic, and characters as rich as the Bolivian culture that constructs the story, Ibanez delivers a wholly unique book for the YA shelf.
Profile Image for Shealea.
441 reviews1,203 followers
Shelved as 'will-avoid-forever'
January 5, 2021
I'll be honest: I had zero interest in reading Woven in Moonlight simply because I did not vibe with the synopsis.

However, it's come to my attention that there are some readers who refer to my will-avoid-forever shelf for context, educational purposes, and what-have-you. So, this one's purely to raise awareness and to encourage readers to make an informed decision before reading, supporting, and/or purchasing Woven in Moonlight and its sequel.

Helpful references regarding the problematic content and unchallenged issues of this book:
📌 Blog discussion from Cande
📌 Video discussion from Lou
📌 Goodreads review from Marquise
Profile Image for Akva (Okretačica stranica).
50 reviews17 followers
February 7, 2020
I'm in shock. So many great reviews and so many stars for this? I feel like I've read a different book O.o
The characterisation is flat, except Ximena's and Rumi's. There is one "mistical" character, El Lobo, but if you read more than 10 books in your life, you know who he is almost immediately.
The blurb (and the reviews) promised a book filled with magic, but that part is so poorly explained and presented. The plot would not change much if that part was ommited.
The romantic part was also so obvious, slow burning and in general, lame.
It's been awhile since I've read a book that disappointed me like this.

Two stars only because of the book cover that the author designed herself.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,421 reviews393 followers
January 12, 2020
Ten years ago, the Llacsans overthrew the Illustrians and took over La Ciudad with an ancient relic filled with powerful magic. Now, as the food stores for the last remaining Illustrians runs dry and their general is missing, the Llacsan king sends a bleak message: the Condesa must marry him, or all Illustrians will die.

It seems bleak, but there is one trick left up their sleeve: Ximena, the decoy Condesa. She will infiltrate La Ciudad, find the relic, and return her people to glory.

This was a pleasantly surprising YA fantasy, that took many of the tropes of YA and turned them on their heads!

Feisty Girl About to Topple Cruel Government

While it started off as somewhat stereotypical, with a former ruling elite forced from power and striving to return to their past positions of glory, this was more a critique of Bolivian political history than anything else. I know absolutely nothing of Bolivian history, but there were some things that made me go, "hmm, I bet this is a call-out to something specific." This was one reason that made the "Girl Goes Revolution" trope a lot different—because instead of bland girl-power-against-evil, this had personal and cultural history and pain written all over it, along with the nuance of real life.

Ximena is feisty and gung-ho about freeing her people, but after meeting a masked vigilante, a captive princess and other Llacsans, she starts to listen and realizes that the Illustrian rule wasn't great for all people—just Illustrians. And that while the Llacscans were colonizers (they had run out the previous indigenous peoples hundreds of years previously), the Illustrians were no better—they had unseated the Llacsans from power and had systematically removed Llacsan culture, language, art and way of life over four hundred years of rule.

The juxtaposition of Illustrian white-ness (literally, everything in Illustrian culture is white—from their clothes to their art to their architecture to their religion) to the Llacsan over-saturation of color, was so symbolic of previous eradication and colonization in Bolivia. Literal nothingness overtaking and wiping out abundance.

Back to Ximena and the trope. Anywho, because of all of this history, Ximena begins to realize that there is no strict good vs bad in this fight—someone is going to win in the end, but is Catalina (the real Condesa) really the best person for the job? Would Catalina just replace one bad ruler with another, and retake the Illustrian throne without any consideration of the Llacsan peoples and their well-being? What makes a government? Can two cultures with lots of painful history coexist?

The Killings, Or, This Book Goes There

While a lot of YA seems to refrain from death of named characters or death in general (or the pristine heroine actually killing someone), this book goes there. Right away, two seemingly very important characters die.

And don't get attached, because this is war and revolution and things happen.

It's YA Game of Thrones, and I loved it.

The Boy

Okay, what YA book doesn't have The Boy? Fine, the sapphic ones, but my point still stands. The Boy™ is one of my least favorite YA tropes, because 1) that is how he is referred to all the time and 2) it perpetuates the false idea that you're gonna find your soulmate at 17.

Granted, this book falls into that trap, but at least the dude is kinda interesting? Although I had hoped that it would have been the other choice instead of who was chosen at the end, because I did not like him and I was totally voting for another character to win Ximena's heart. Or there to not be a romantic love interest at all.

Anywho, the romance aspect felt shoe-horned in and was kinda there just to be there and make it a YA fantasy.

Because the Rules of YA Fantasy state that there cannot be a heroine without The Boy™ (exceptions made for sapphic relationships).

Other Things I Liked

The worldbuilding. Previously mentioned above so I'll keep this short, but it felt real, with real history and meaning and nuance. 100% because it is #ownvoices and based on real history, but it was done very well. I also spent 90% of the book hungry because the food all sounded delicious.

Things That Could Have Been a Little Better or Just..Not Been There At All

Ximena as decoy. Damn this girl is a terrible decoy Condesa. For someone who has been the decoy for about ten years, she lacks any hint of subtlety, leadership (people skills—she's got the logistics down pat) or refinement. From the minute she gets to La Ciudad, I was like, "She's going to be discovered in a heartbeat." But, nope.

El Lobo. Did he have to be this dude? Really? Really? I was hoping he'd be someone else who was mentioned a bajillion times but never made an appearance, but it wasn't him.

The characters. This is a huge cast with lots of different peoples and cultures and everything else, and there is some politicking about other countries and whatnot and how the Big Bad has transformed farmland into drugland, but not a whole lot of other countries waiting to pounce on a kingdom in a weakened state, or seeking external allies. Also, there were a couple of characters who weren't developed fully or at all (Catalina), characters who were Super Important and died right away to further Ximena's growth and reliance on Llacsan characters, and characters who were Super Important but never appeared at all on page.

The magic. Chiefly, Ximena's magic. Her ability to weave moonlight was awesome, but the extra bits seemed extraneous and also mostly just padding and fluff to increase word-count and make it more Disneyfied. "See kids? Cute animals! Ignore the beheadings and death! Cute snakes!"

Also, I felt like there should have been more focus on the king and his blood mage and all of that business. Primarily, the king's motivations? I just didn't get it.

Final Thoughts

Yes, this wasn't perfect, but it was much more nuanced than most YA fantasy of late, with a biting critique on an all-or-nothing, black-or-white morality and Bolivian politics that I wasn't expecting to be so...biting.

There were a lot of threads left dangling in the wind, so I hope that this gets a sequel (which it looks like it will be!). Hopefully the sequel ties everything together neatly.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Mrinmayi.
155 reviews574 followers
May 23, 2020
This book pretty much summed up : what happens when a Gryffindor "TRIES" to save the world but keeps on making " Stupid and reckless decisions " and in the end ....ends up doing more STUPID THINGS 🥱😠🥱
Then the Slytherin has to step in and save the world ; clear the mess GRYFFINDOR has created ,make sacrifices and be loyal to the Gryffindor and yet get betrayed by the same Gryffindor 😒😶.....Oh and as expected the Hufflepuff dies😠🤨
Cherry on the top: The Gryffindor gets the credit for saving the world 🤨😑

But thumbs up for the POC representation 👍🏽
The rich Bolivian culture explored in this book def makes you want to know more about this culture
Although the world building was lacking; the plot itself was entertaining and engaging
It was fast paced and an enjoyable read
Also kudos to the author for not going the traditional YA route
While there were some clichès present....this was not your typical YA
But my favorite part was the interaction with the pets ( the sloth was my favorite)
Will definitely pick up more books by this author in the future

P.S. : l was waiting for Dumbledore to make an appearance and say, " 50000 points to GRYFFINDOR!!!🎉🎊"😒

Ximena: Gryffindor
Rumi: Hufflepuff
El Lobo: Slytherin
Juan Carlos: Hufflepuff
Atoc: Squib
The Royal Priest: Squib
Sofia: Ravenclaw
Ana: Gryffindor
Tamaya: Ravenclaw
January 7, 2021
Edit: it's finally catching on how messed up the indigenous rep in these books is, wooo

The Good
– Ibañez is capable of some lovely descriptions
– Some plot points are really solid
– Ximena's weaving magic and how she uses it is great
– Main love interest is a healer

The Bad
– Painfully lacking originality
– Ximena is a miserable protagonist
– Ximena's magic not utilized to its full extent
– So much emotional telling over showing
– Concept is messy as hell
– Pacing is uneven at times
Strong anti-indigenous vibes
– Entire characters who don't matter?

When Woven in Moonlight began by introducing a bunch of cool characters, I thought I might really like it. How often do we get to see a woman general and her daughter working to fill her shoes?

But two chapters later, they're dead, never spoken of again, and Woven in Moonlight returns to its regularly scheduled derivative programming. 😕

Despite the shroud of Bolivian heritage, Woven in Moonlight is a story we've all seen before, with no new embellishments or alternations. I do think some of the tropes might appeal to some readers: Ximena overcoming her prejudice while falling in love with a Llacsan boy she initially can't stand is the bread and butter of a lot of YA stories.

I do think Woven in Moonlight had a lot of elements in place to work: a good source of tension as Ximena is torn between new values and old, a romantic interest aligned along that tension and a few superb key plot points. But between Ximena's personality, Ibañez's unpractised style, the sometimes uneven pacing and the actual content, the whole thing was a struggle to read through.

Since most of the plot hinges on Ximena overcoming her prejudice, this means a great deal of time is spent listening to her insult the Indigenous-coded (specifically Inca, I believe) Llacsans. While overcoming prejudice and growing is a good thing, the problem with this sort of story is that Indigenous people exist in real life and are pretty horrifically systematically oppressed (no matter where they're from.) These Indigenous people will pick up this book and see that the plot is basically how the descendant of a Spanish colonizer is learning how the Indigenous people aren't as smelly or dirty or tacky as she thought they were! How great for her, right?

In this way, the setting is kind of a mess. I liked how flexible the magic system was and the one or two times Ximena used her weaving magic in an interesting way (using tiny woven ants to unlock doors!) but overall it definitely wasn't utilized as often as it should've been, nor was it as central to the plot as the title suggests.

Ximena was, uh, the worst.

While I don't believe every protagonist should be perfectly likeable—and let's be honest, a universally likeable protagonist would likely be a boring protagonist—they should possess some quality which entices the reader to follow their narrative.

Not only is Ximena horribly unpleasant and constantly disparaging the Llacsan's culture—even right up until the end, when she's supposedly grown, she's still commenting on how they've painted something a "horrible green"—she's so, so, so stupid. I hate calling a character such, but for a young woman raised to protect the Condesa through both combat and deception, Ximena could not make a good decision to save her life. Sometimes a character needs to make a decision the readers find hard to see the outcome of, but Ximena was needlessly snarky and impulsive, often landing her in hot water for no reason. Girl, you're at the mercy of your #1 enemy: use your head and think once in a while! Her comments on how dirty she found the Llacsan or how ugly the colours they liked were in combination with her dumbass decisions meant I was screaming internally at every other line. Ximena truly made Woven in Moonlight a burden to get through.

Out of the cast of characters, only Rumi presented as multifaceted. I enjoyed seeing a male healer as the main love interest. It's uncommon. I personally found him hard to like when his first interaction with Ximena was to manhandle her violently and grope around her thighs (for weapons) but I know some people are into the whole enemies-to-lovers vibe.

The rest of the cast, good or bad, were all rather flat and unmemorable. Atoc was cruel and power-hungry, despite somehow being a great guy before the Llacsan revolt, a transformation that is never explored. Tamaya is good and pure and perfect. The head priest is cruel and literally just named "evil" in Quechua. Wow.

Also, I'm still not over Ana and Sofía. Ana the general, who needs to protect what remains of her people along with the Illustrian heir? Sofía, who received her mother treasured blade for her eighteenth birthday? Historically, when we get generals and legacies and such, it's men. I was so excited for these two, and in the end, they were nothing. Utterly replaceable. Ugh.

Writing Style
Woven in Moonlight is told in first person, present tense, with Ximena as the sole POV character.

Ibañez has a problem with excess similes.

While the odd simile is perfectly fine and even expected, every single emotion does not require one. In reality, it hurts how readers relate to characters. We know a lump in our throat feels like sadness; we cannot relate to how a lump of hanging wool is like dread, or whatever. Moreover, readers should be feeling emotion for the situation—not every time the protagonist does. When there isn't a simile, there's often telling over showing for emotion—I'm boiling with rage; Rage blazes beneath my skin; etc.

Ibañez's narrative style was rambling and weak. Two-thirds of what's on the page is unimportant or full of filler words. Although Ibañez is capable of some lovely descriptions, particularly of clothes or nature, her style overall was unpolished, amateur and unpracticed. It was dull and hard to get through.

Themes and Representation
Again, a major theme is overcoming prejudice, and as stated above, a huge issue with this is how the Indigenous-coded Llacsan must be constantly insulted for Ximena to have her character growth. There are better ways to handle the topic and better ways to work Bolivian culture into a fantasy novel.

Recommended For...
If you like certain tropes or situations—enemies to lovers, characters navigating life hostile territory or characters unlearning prejudice—you might get some entertainment out of Woven in Moonlight. But it's neither well-written or original enough to make waves.

>>More book reviews at Feathered Turtle Press<<
Profile Image for abthebooknerd.
273 reviews144 followers
September 2, 2020
A wonderfully warm tale woven with magic, intrigue, and romance ✨

😏See what I did there ^ ? This lush fantasy inspired by Bolivian politics and history was so captivating! The dynamics of the court were truly maddening - as I said before, that Atoc can go and DIE. I loved reading about the food, the fashion, the history, and the language. Everything was so lush and glittering. To me, some of the best fantasies are the ones with vast descriptions of the dishes that the protagonists eat in the novel (because yes, writers, the characters EAT), as well as imagery regarding the fashion, materials used, wildlife, etc.,

Anything that makes the world richer and more real is an A+ in my book. This book gave me that! I read some books lately where I was batting out in that particular department of each story (which is my favorite bit), so it was soooo nice to come back to a story that was rich in that way.

This book felt like a good meal. A good, spicy, warm, and romantic meal. Can't wait to read my ARC of the companion novel! I'm really interested to see where Isabel takes the Condesa after that ending. . .

Profile Image for Rebecca Ross.
Author 8 books3,943 followers
January 3, 2020
A spellbinding, vivid debut. Plot twists abound, the magic is uniquely drawn, and intrigue illuminates the pages. The world of Inkasisa is so beautifully rendered I never wanted to leave it.
Profile Image for Diana .
54 reviews54 followers
January 19, 2022
Drawn inspiration from rich Bolivian culture — the world, the magic system and the representation are all as beautifully woven in this book as Ximena's tapestries.

"Words empowered by justice can never be silenced."

Focused on fighting political oppression and overthrowing a corrupt government, Ximena Rojas is our impulsive and very determined main character who due to the circumstances she was dragged in as the decoy of the Illustrian Condesa had a change of heart for their sworn enemy — the Llacsans.

Getting trapped in their region made her see firsthand their side of the story. This drove her to ally with the masked vigilante and his confidantes who aim to start a revolución to eradicate the nation's poverty, economic crisis and the division between the Illustrians and the Llacsans.

All of those transpired while we readers are forced to be preoccupied with guessing who El Lobo (the masked vigilante) is, which does not take at least ten brain cells to do if you have read at least ten books in your life.

The story was immersing in the first few chapters and would still have held so much potential if there were not many things near the end that completely put me (us) off. Namely: the author putting in little effort on obscuring what should have been mind-blowing revelations, the romance that suddenly got cringe-y, the plot twists that felt very forced and the lack of foundation for the world-building and the magic system.

Though the mouthwatering Bolivian food and the adorable animals that came to life from Ximena's tapestries somehow made up for it. I now have a life goal of having a pet llama (as long as it spits wool in the faces of my enemies).

Seized the night reading this with Rue, Mrin and Tani.
Profile Image for Sophie.
458 reviews187 followers
April 26, 2020
It took me a while to get into the story as it came off as very simply written, but I grew to enjoy the world and the magic, though I would have liked to see it more developed. This is one of those stories where it is easy to guess what is going to happen, but still enjoy the ride.

I liked the difference in the two cultures displayed (and how the constant conflicts hurt each other and the constant back and forth in power) and the two cultures learning about each other through Ximena and her encounters at the palace. There are good and bad people in both cultures. While the approach and plot was rather simplistic, this was more nuanced than expected.

My main complaint is that the decoy story was a bit sloppy. Ximena has been a decoy her whole life and has been pretending to be of high rank for years and yet she is childish and impulsive. She is constantly making poor decisions, or doing things that make it obvious that she comes from a poorer background. She talks so openly about her past, it is amazing that nobody questioned her background more! And we saw how she longed to be able to be herself, but I feel like there could have been more about how being a decoy impacted her.
Profile Image for em.
367 reviews
December 23, 2019
If you think the cover is stunning, wait until you open up this gorgeous book and see what awaits you.

Isabel Ibañez has managed to create not only a lustrous world bathed in moonlight, vibrant scents and dazzling colours but also, she has knocked my socks off with one of the most *beautiful* magic systems I have ever come across. All that woven in the rich Bolivian culture of her very own roots.

Man, was I blown away. I am telling you, you don't want to miss out on this.

But don't be tricked by the soft looks of Woven in Moonlight. This novel has a realness to it that caught me completely off guard. Besides the lush world Isabel paints, she also does a superb job at showing how real the consequences can be when it comes to war, revolution, and politics based on discrimination. There's a lot of lightness in Woven in Moonlight, but expect a fair share of rawness too.

AND THE MASKED VIGILANTE. I literally spent two thirds of the book guessing. Trust me, el Lobo will be YOUR FAVE. I'll say no more.

So guys, hear me out on this and make sure you start your year reading Woven in Moonlight because ay, qué preciosidad!

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an early copy of this book. Opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Kate.
402 reviews238 followers
January 5, 2021
My review of this book was up on my old free Wordpress account (which is no longer available since I moved to a self-hosted blog) but I wanted to put it somewhere publicly available since there's a lot of discussion on this now.


Woven in Moonlight was one of my most anticipated reads for the first quarter of 2020, and when I finally got the chance to read it for #PhilMythReadathon I was super eager to get started.

Unfortunately, I ended up feeling a bit uncomfortable about how the book’s plot ultimately ended up panning out – enough to write a whole review about it, apparently.

Please keep in mind the following things: I am not Latinx and I am not Bolivian. Therefore take all of my criticism with a grain of salt.

Also, please be aware that this review contains spoilers (although I tried to keep them as vague as possible).


Woven in Moonlight is the story of Ximena, a girl whose entire world is upended by a revolution. For decades, the Illustrians have ruled over the country of Inkasisa – including a group of people known as the Llacsans. All that changes when the Llacsans finally revolt, depose and execute the Condesa, and send the remaining Illustrians fleeing to a magical fortress in the mountains.

The new Condesa is a young girl named Catalina. Her closest friend is the aforementioned Ximena, her loyal bodyguard and decoy – a la Padmé Amidala. Together, the two lead the Illustrian resistance which aims to take back Inkasisa and put Catalina on the throne. However, a wrench is thrown into their plans when Ana, whose magic keeps the fortress hidden, is kidnapped by Atoc, the king of the Llacsans. Atoc says that he’ll return Ana to them, if the Condesa returns to Inkasisa and marries him.

Ximena agrees to go in place of Catalina, but she also has another purpose: to locate the Estrella, the weapon the Llacsans used that enabled them to defeat the Illustrians and take over Inkasisa. However, when she arrives in Inkasisa, she discovers that the Illustrians may not have actually been the benevolent rulers she thought they were.


For one, I absolutely adored the way that Bolivian food was very lovingly described. I looked up every dish that was mentioned and made mental notes to try and cook them while the Philippines is in lockdown. Protip? Do not read this book while hungry.

The Llacsan side characters were also super compelling and excellently portrayed (with the exception of the villain, Atoc, whom I found cartoonish and unbelievable – a veritable caricature of an actually existing man). I especially liked the Princess Tamaya, Atoc’s sister; and the healer Rumi. Both of them come to play important parts in Ximena’s journey, and later on in the liberation of Inkasisa. I also really liked the guard Juan Carlos, who Atoc assigns to keep an eye on Ximena.

Also, as simplistic as the ending was, and how easy saving the day turned out to be, I actually didn’t mind all that much. I liked how the plot turned out, and I actually liked the way that the story ended with all the loose threads tied up in a neat little bow. To be honest? This book would have been the perfect quarantine/lockdown read. It’s high stakes so it still engages you, but it’s not anxiety-inducing and you’re assured of the happy ending.


First off, the Llacsans are meant to be representative of an indigenous group, while the Illustrians are meant to be similar to white or mestizo Latinx folks. And from the moment Ximena arrives in Inkasisa, she does nothing but criticise the Llacsan fashion styles and architecture. In everything she does for like…60% of the book, Ximena shows herself to not just be unlikeable and rude, but downright prejudiced and bigoted.

I get that the point of the story was to show Ximena changing her ways and getting better, but that “redemption arc” was so unbelievable it honestly had me rolling my eyes so many times. When a character doesn’t accept that she’s wrong and take steps to undo her prejudice and bigotry until the very last quarter of a book, that’s not a redemption arc. That’s not character development. That’s lazy.

Also, Cande (who wrote a magnificent review of this book which I've linked below) put it best:

"I really don’t have the power in me, the patience in this year, to read about privileged people learning that oh, marginalized people are people and should be respected."

Which leads me to my main point, and the title of this piece. Why is the voice of an oppressor being centred in a narrative of indigenous people rising up and taking back their powder and independence?

Throughout the entire story, it’s made very clear that Ximena was just so unaware of how privileged she was. She makes use of all the classic rhetoric that privileged people use when discussing marginalised communities: She had a nanny that was Llacsan and she loved her! The Illustrians helped the Llacsans! And so much more. As someone whose own country was colonised – twice – by people who thought they were helping us, it was pretty grating to read stuff like this.

To make matters worse, the main meat of the story is the Llacsans gaining their independence – first from the Illustrians, then from Atoc’s brutal rule. At the end of it, the main events of Woven in Moonlight are all about how a subjugated people free themselves from a tyrant’s grip; first the Condesa’s, then Atoc’s. It’s all about them fighting for their dignity and right to self-governance. So why then in the name of all that is holy is an Illustrian telling this story?

Honestly, I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the protagonist had been Princess Tamaya, or Rumi. Heck, even the Llacsan maid who serves Ximena. Someone who actually has skin in the game of seeing the Llacasans achieve self-determination.

In the end, in a political climate where governments the world over are still screwing indigenous folks, this was not a book I could enjoy.


For more nuanced reviews, please read the following:

Cande's review of Woven in Moonlight
Cande's review of the sequel Written in Starlight
Goodreads review of Woven in Moonlight from Marquise
Profile Image for Alex (The Scribe Owl).
349 reviews109 followers
May 31, 2021

See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl!

4/5 stars

Woven in Moonight is a spellbinding foray into imaginative magic and Bolivian history.

While I expected to have a decent time, I enjoyed Woven in Moonlight much more than I had previously presumed! It was an utterly enchanting story, but more than that it was a very unique tale. YA fantasy can easily fall into the trap of similarity and interchangeability, but this novel was different and creative enough to stand apart from the crowd.

Many of the popular fantasy books right now take place somewhere resembling England, France, or Germany. I have nothing against any of those; in fact, I love reading books set in similar places! But it's so refreshing to read a fantasy book where the world is inspired by somewhere else. The Bolivian history intertwined with the story made it an invigoratingly new experience and I greatly appreciate it.

Just like the setting, the magic was also different and exciting. Ximena's weaving-based powers were so much fun and they made some very interesting plot points. Ximena herself was such a fun character! She was disparate from other YA heroines without being too different (there were no crazy colored eyes or "I'm not like other girls"), making her an interesting MC.

One of my very favorite parts of this book was all of the food descriptions. I would not recommend reading this book without a snack on hand, though you'll probably realize that your snack isn't half as good as the food Isabel Ibañez describes.

My one complaint is that there was a lot of Spanish. That wouldn't be so much of a problem if it was translated, but it wasn't. I found a glossary in the back after the fact, but most of it was dedicated to even more delicious food descriptions. All the words in Spanish weren't very important to the story, they were more just conversational, so you won't miss that much. But I looked them up every time just so I could understand what was said.

All in all, this was a fantastic read! I would definitely recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!



So... FairyLoot sent me the January 2020 box instead of the January 2021 box?? I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but this book looks amazing.
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