One of the Most Beautiful Fantasy Novels of 2020 | Blog Tour, Review, Favourite Quotes + Playlist: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

7:30 AM

Woven in Moonlight was purely magical and so captivating. I'm calling it now: best YA fantasy of 2020. You can't convince me otherwise, sorry.


Woven in Moonlight

by Isabel Ibañez
Publisher: Page Street Books
Release Date: January 7th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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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.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Rating: ★★★★★
As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

What a way to kick off a new decade. Get ready for an instant classic and one the strongest debuts I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I mean that genuinely: EVER. And I've been reviewing YA books for over a decade. This novel has now taken its rightful spot on my favourites shelf.

The basics? The lowdown?  

Woven in Moonlight is enchanting, magical and beautifully written. Every page, every chapter, is just as striking as its cover design. Isabel Ibañez is a masterful storyteller who weaves a tapestry of her own prose with as much striking talent as possible. It is nothing short of illuminating and left me breathless upon finishing.

When I say that I fell hard for Woven in Moonlight, I mean it. For hours, I found myself drifting into a new world of existence. By the time I finished it, my fingertips ached with the desire to be able to turn just one more page. Just one more chapter.

It may be dramatic to say so, but Ibañez has so more spark and talent than any of us mere mortals do and I'm in awe. Woven in Moonlight is deeply imaginative, richly drawn. It is alight with magic and Bolivian culture. Nothing anyone can say about Woven in Moonlight can capture the story and its beauty to so few words.

The characters were written in ways that were flawed and complex; leading to just as many moments of tension, fear, romance and witty banter. Suspense is brought to the forefront within seconds: our story begins with Ximena, decoy condesa, releases that two sources of danger could destroy all that she has left in this life.

In no time, her journey truly begins--and the outcome is not exactly what she expected. Life is so much more than what she thought. New allies are found, old enemies rear their ugly heads, war lingers and an intriguing masked vigilante lingers in the shadows. Soon, Ximena is questioning everything.

From life as she knows it changing, to the supposed enemies to her people, straight to the heart of who she was always meant to be, Ximena knows one thing. She is changing. And to prevent the worst, she knows, everyone else needs to change too.  Seeing her grow from tough, determined decoy condesa, to an independent being, felt as though my dearest friend was growing up before my eyes.

Overall, Woven in Moonlight is creative, unique and vibrant. My heart was beating frantically throughout the novel and I wouldn't have it any other way. Impossible to put down, and even more impossible to forget, Woven in Moonlight is sure to be one of the most beloved books of the 2020s.

Part of me wanted to go through a playlist for Woven in Moonlight based solely on instrumentals. I had this whole vision in mind for how specific scores could go with the plotline. As the band geek I am, I practically was picking up my flute to try and compose something of my own. I was picturing a film--all luscious and magical and vivid.

Then, I felt like, I liked the idea of a contrast in setting vs. more modern music. (And the internal debate commenced because, obviously, I take my choices of music a bit too seriously.) Kind of like how Reign, a historical fiction, used modern music in its score--sometimes it was cringy, but other times, it really paid off.

Another good example would be fan made videos on Youtube. That's when flashes came to me, tied upon in lyrics and rhythms and prose, and I felt less like I was making a score and more like I could envision scenes playing out with these songs.

The first song that came to me was incidentally the last one I listed--Taylor Swift's It's Nice to Have a Friend. The last song, even more amusing, was the first song you'll hear on the playlist--Ms by alt-J.

In my mind, I could see and hear the first chapter playing out with It's Nice to Have a Friend as the musical backdrop; Ximena and Catalina's first scenes together, contrasting with Ximena's complex emotions but strong fondness and faith in her friend. It's a song that would feel like what the scene provides--this calm before the storm. Ms, meanwhile, felt undeniably like something of an opening credits scene of a television series; the illustrations and moonlight meeting and connecting with the song before every episode.

Feel It Coming On by Contessa felt eerily like the heartbeat of a scene between Rumi and Ximena. Then there's Vagabon's Fear & Force which feels as though it would play during a pivotal moment for Catalina. Echos' Saints brings to mind Ximena's arrival on enemy territory. Rival by Ruelle is fairly essential to many scenes.

Songs like Rayelle's Bad Blood, Mawr and Silverberg's The Legend Begins, Ruelle's Until We Go Down, ADONA's Haunted and Unions' Afraid of the Dark scream out to be played during the novel's tense an important moments.

Finally, of the last of the songs I want to explain a bit, Seven Devils by Florence + The Machine is one of those songs that could work in any scenario. For me, it specifically draws into the very pulse of Woven in Moonlight's final chapters.

Favourite Quotes 

"Sometimes, though, that kind of love just isn't comfortable."  
Why: in context, it describes perfectly the bond that Ximena and Catalina share. It nods to Ximena having given up nearly everything about herself to play decoy. But, it also fits quite well with love in general.

"Not every fight can be won with fists and swords," she says softly. 
Why: Your girl (me) is a Ravenclaw, so I had a lot of feelings about this one. They are at war and this is shockingly accurate--sometimes, your biggest weapon is not the sword you wield but your mind.

"I don't think it's stupid or rash to stand up for a friend." 
Why: This just fits with Ximena's character brilliant. It's a universal statement, too. But this is one of the times that we see her, really see her, instead of the role she is playing.

"To heal people, you have to understand them. You have to take the time to listen and actually hear what bothers them." 
Why: Woven in Moonlight has quite a few moments where both Ximena and Rumi judge each other. It makes their budding friendship so intriguing. Also, it bring us gems like this.

"You ask too many questions." "It's because I have a mind.
Why: Something about this feels so right. Petition to have this be the answer any time anyone ever tells you that you ask too many questions.

"It's strange I don't fit into the box you made for me?" 

"I know you have your own ambitions, your own dreams and wishes. My heart is no different than yours. Why is it so hard to believe that even enemies want the same things?" 
Why: A moment of truth that really broke through. For some reason, I had chills.

"People are people." He shrugs. "We mess up. You took the chance to make it right, and that's all we can really ask of anyone. My cousin doesn't trust a lot of people, and he shouldn't. He can't afford to--not with so much at stake."

About the Author

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 @IsabelWriter09.

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NovelKnight - Official Dream Cast
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Vidhya thakkar - Review

January 22nd

Utopia State of Mind - Top 5 or 10 List
@womanon - Review + Favourite Quotes
onemused - Review
Foals, Fiction & Filigree - Review + Favourite Quotes

January 23rd

Kait Plus Books - Official Book Playlist
Books of Amber - Review
Cluttered Books - Review

January 24th

Moonlight Rendezvous - Review + Favourite Quotes
A Court of Coffee and Books - Review + Favourite Quotes
Booked J - Review + Playlist + Favourite Quotes
Ink & Myths - Review + Favourite Quotes

January 25th

A Gingerly Review - Story Behind The Cover
Sometimes Leelynn Reads - Review + Dream Cast
Morgan Vega - Review + Favourite Quotes
Ya It’s Lit - Review + Favourite Quotes
biblioxytocin - Review + Favourite Quotes

January 26th

L.M. Durand - Mood Boards by the author + the blogger
Confessions of a YA Reader - Review + Favourite Quotes
Frayed Books - Review
Inky Moments - Review
The.magicalpages - Review
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