This is the kind of fantasy that really enchants you!
It has fake queens, roguish vigilantes, and the absolute cutest magic sloths. It’s true!! There is a sloth made of magic here and for that reason alone you’ll want to read this!
I went in not knowing much about it, so here is my quick highlight reel of what you’re in for:
📖 #ownvoices Bolivian-inspired fantasy
📖 so much rich culture, so much love for details
📖 the absolute most delicious food descriptions you will up and try to gnaw your book pages
📖 the queen’s decoy is supposed to be demure and quiet and she pretty much is an explosion of electrical rage with a sword and she despises frills and can only be calmed if given fried food (relatable)
📖 sour healer boy whom I love
📖 lots of craft appreciation! magical weaving!
📖 trying to avoid marrying an evil king
📖 vigilante named El Lobo all dressed in black and dashing but whose side is he on
📖 unique and amazing magic system!!
“Everything always seems sweeter in the minutes before darkness descends.”
[the story it told]
Ximena has posed as the “fake Condesa” all her life, so when the queen is supposed to be married off to the enemy king to save their people, obviously Ximena goes in the real queen’s place. My favourite part was how Ximena is supposed to pretend to be the demure, sweet and friend-to-all-queen — when really she is such a wiry fireball. She’s like 1000% Gryffindor: impulsive, brash, passionate, prone to looking back at the destruction she caused and being like “oop”.
A lot of the story is set in the evil king’s palace, and it’s about Ximena making unlikely friends, spying for secrets, trying to save her people, and getting accidentally involved in the vigilante’s revolution. Her loyalties split: she’s spying for her people. But she’s also learning her people’s solution to the war maaaay not be as solid as they thought. I don’t typically love plots where it’s mostly palace settings — but I was so hooked here! I think it’s because I loved the characters! The dialogue, chemistry, and feels were all there and so so good. Plus we got delicious plot twists and darker moments to amp up tension.
The book also tackles colonisation and how blatant hate of a whole people group improves nothing. You can’t pretend to be better than the villains if you’re as cruel to them as they are to you.
I toooootally guessed the identity of El Lobo early though. AH. I am smort. 😂
[here for the characters]
We’ve established Ximena is the best: but also a huge reason I loved her is she has so much attitude but is never obnoxious. She has this careful and thoughtful arc — learning that she has to speak for herself, she has to think for herself, after a whole life of being taught what to do and who to pretend to be. (I also loved that the book balanced darkness and desperation with quips and bantery scenes perfectly!!)
I didn’t feel a huge connection to any of Ximena’s people (like Catalina, Sofia, Ana, etc.) but then, we didn’t spend a lot of time with them. However I LOVED all the other minor characters. And there were a lot but I still remembered them?! (My two braincells and I are SHOCKED and proud.) Juan Carols the friendly bubbly guard. Suyana the sharp maid. Rumi, the mouldy healer boy who is so sour but also secretly soft. 🥺 I adored him and shipped him and Ximena straight away. You know a ship is coming when the boy tells the girl to disarm herself and waits with a 😑 expression while she pulls out like…six knives.
No surprise but I really LOVE foodie descriptions and this had so much Bolivian and Latina food, I just ahhh. I was googling things they described and just wanted to try it all. Also Ximena is like “make everything spicy and deep friend” and she is honestly a blessing. Also I want oranges dipped in chocolate?!??
Dressed in his usual black ensemble, he reminds me of the perfect night. The kind of night that makes you want to get lost somewhere. The kind of night that invites adventure and misbehaving.
This was a magical, sweeping story, rich in imagination and culture and heart. It definitely left me hungry for more!
Thanks so much to the author for the review copy! The grey edition comes from @FairyLoot! Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez was published January, 2020.
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.
tell me what fantasy books you’ve been loving recently? 👀 is this one on your tbr? does reading make YOU hungry? 😂