I have always been interested in reading this book, ever since it came in a Fairyloot box last year. When I received an e-ARC of Written in Starlight, I knew I needed to get moving and read this book and I finally did! It was my final read of 2020 and I ended up loving it! But based off the ending, I’m curious how there’s going to be a sequel. While I have some ideas I’m excited to see what we have in store for us next. As for now, here are my thoughts on Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez!
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Published: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Page Street Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
After reading a few contemporaries before diving into this, I found myself enjoying the setting of this book and the magic system. The moon gives people their powers and allows them to do magical things, such as weaving moonlight into fabrics or reading the stars. It’s a more subtle magic system that fits into this society well. While there is some evil sorcery, people with insane powers, for the most part everyone is on the same playing field.
Which is what makes me love Ximena’s character that much more. As the decoy Condesa, Ximena must respond to and act like Catalina, the real Condesa. She has been the decoy since she was eight years old and has trained almost her whole life since then. She’s a tough cookie who doesn’t take crap from anyone, especially when it threatens the people she loves. But she also is human and while she’s tough as nails, she also enjoys other things, like weaving.
I think that’s one thing that a lot of writers tend to forget – if you have a tough, badass female character, you also have to remember that they’re still a person. People don’t just like one thing or are just one personality trait. Ximena is tough and headstrong, but caring and sweet at times. Ibañez does an amazing job of humanizing all of her characters, even ones we only have a few scenes with. Though Atoc is still just a jerk in my opinion, Ibañez even humanizes him by showing us that at one point he was just a regular kid too.
Besides the magic and the characters, I love how the story was weaved. It seemed to change course as Ximena realized a few very important things in her plan to 1) not marry Atoc and 2) get the real Condesa on the throne. Ximena’s quick thinking and her ability to strategize had me entranced the enter time. I admire her so much honestly. And then of course, we have Rumi, the healer, and Juan Carlos, a guard. While Rumi is a total jerk in the first half I started to love him as Ximena got to know him more. He was funny and snarky and caring. Juan Carlos on the other hand is like a ray of sunshine. No matter what’s going on or how defeated Ximena feels, he’s the kindest friend (if you can call him that) towards Ximena and makes her captivity a little brighter. Then, of course, we have Tomaya, Atoc’ sister, who is so smart and charismatic! I wanted more scenes with her because I knew that Ximena and Tomaya could be best friends.
There wasn’t much that I didn’t like either. I thought the pacing was good as we ebbed and flowed through the story, with some moments being quick and others drawn out. Ibañez does an amazing job explaining the political climate we’re dealing with and letting the reader understand both sides of the issue. And, of course, the writing is absolutely gorgeous. There wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t want to have this book in my hands.
Overall, I found myself falling in love with these characters and this world. I loved how the plot progressed and moved in ways that I expected and also didn’t. This has got me so excited for Written in Starlight, which I hope to read soon! A strong // 5 stars!