Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So I received this book in my January Fairyloot box and the first thing I thought (which might be shallow) was: wow this book is absolutely stunning. And it is. The regular edition is beautiful too, but the Fairyloot one is just one of my favorite covers ever. So, needless to say, after reading the synopsis, I was excited to read this one.
I started to read it with the read-along, but I didn’t really have the time, so I had to put it down for like three days after reading the first eighty or so pages, but right off the bat I had a few opinions.
When I picked the book back up again, I finished it in like two days, as it’s super short, but I really didn’t feel like my heart was in it. This book wasn’t particularly for me. That’s not to say that it was a bad book, but I didn’t love it, which was really upsetting for me.
First though, I’ll talk about the things that I did like in this book, to bring it back to a bit of a positive note.
I really liked the how the author was close to the story in that she used Bolivia’s history to build this book upon. I thought it was a really interesting way to build her story and it added a bit of a personal element you don’t often see. You could plainly see the commentary she was making about the situation there, which was what she was trying to accomplish.
I liked a lot of her description, it was really beautiful at some points and I felt like I could really picture the castillo, though at first I had a little trouble placing things and had to look at the beautiful map. I also felt like the description of the market was really well done and I could picture it perfectly, even though there’s only about two scenes in the book that take place there.
I liked the idea of the plot; I thought that it was a sound enough idea and it definitely had some interesting points throughout the novel. It was an enjoyable read, if you didn’t think about it too much or read into it too much.
The Princesa was probably my favorite character in the whole novel, though I knew next to nothing about her, but if you told me I had to pick a favorite, it would be her.
I also felt like she was able to capture a lot of the cultural elements really well, of course, I’m not Bolivian and can’t say for sure. I liked the incorporation of the contrasting cultures between the Llacsans and the Illustrians; I thought it was really interesting. The incorporation of the spanish language was also a really good choice, I think. I was really glad for the glossary, since I took French in high school and could barely read the chapter titles because 1. I don’t know spanish and 2. the font threw me off from even attempting anything past chapter fourteen, but that’s my own fault.
Okay… I’ll start with the worldbuilding itself. It felt a little… messy, if I’m being honest. I didn’t really feel like I understood the way that magic worked. At all. Like nothing was really explained. The closest we got was saying that the Illustrians got their powers from the moon, but where do the Llacsans get their abilities from? Do some people have powers and others don’t? The magic just felt like it took a backseat for me, and I didn’t really even understand how it worked. In order for a magic system to work in any piece of creative work whether it be film, television or books, there needs to be established rules and there wasn’t that here. I felt like I was feeling around in the dark for answers that weren’t there.
The whole plot seemed super anticlimactic. Like majorly. The stakes were high and I thought there was going to be this big battle, but it only came down to about seven pages within the last 30. It was kind of boring; it kept me interested enough, but I found myself looking ahead to see if there was anything remotely interesting coming up.
In the same vein, it felt sort of repetitive at points. Almost like the days were cyclical: get up, complain about dress, deal with atoc, go to garden, argue or half a sort of soft moment with rumi, “I should hate Llacsans”, sneaks out of room, repeat. I would have preferred a little more action, rather than complete political intrigue, which didn’t really intrigue me all that much.
I literally went through the entire book not really understanding what the Estrella was. I understood that it was this sort of bracelet, but I didn’t understand what it could do. And it was just sort of referenced as this taboo item, this weapon, but I didn’t know if I should be fearful of what it did, because I really didn’t get it.
El Lobo wasn’t really a point of interest for me. For almost the whole novel, I knew exactly who it was. It wasn’t a challenge at all to figure it out, if I’m being honest. I read this book at the same time as one of my best friends and she felt the same way about this. The El Lobo plotline also just felt… flat. I could feel that I was supposed to care about him and about the situation, but I really couldn’t bring myself to do so.
Atoc felt like a generic villain. There was absolutely nothing special about him that made me even particularly feel threatened by him. He felt really two dimensional and almost like a cardboard cut out of a character. He was there, then he wasn’t. He just sort of sat there and he wasn’t really even physically present in the novel. I don’t know… I like villains that have layers, that I can unpack and understand, despite what they are doing. I like to know motivations and character traits other than “evil” and when it came down to it, Atoc had none of those things.
Ximena was an annoying protagonist. Straight up irritating at times. Her inner monologue was the same repetitive thoughts over and over. I found myself not really caring about her. Her ability was cool and a sound enough idea, but I really don’t understand how it words still. Being able to make animals out of wool was explained away by her use of “color”, but it felt so lazy to me; I don’t know. I just feel like Ximena didn’t care about the things that she should be caring about. In the final battle, there are people dying, and all she cares about is her woven Jaguar. Even after a character dies, they’re never mentioned again, but the jaguar is, which is something that was never truly alive to begin with.
Rumi and Ximena’s relationship went from 0-100 really quick. One minute she’s complaining about how much he smells like ragweed (because he does; in case you didn’t know. Ximena will remind you if you didn’t) and the next minute she’s like swooning over him. I would have preferred it to be more gradual of a relationship. It felt like hate to instalove, which didn’t really work for me. By the end of 365 pages he’s saying “I love you” to her, but they had like maybe five actual conversations.
The whole little side plot regarding the priest was just so lazy to me. It seemed like such an easy out for the author and she took it. If it was going to be resolved so stupidly easily, then why even have it in the novel.
SPOILER: I feel the same way about how apparently everyone in the castle hates Atoc and are working against him in some resistance. It felt so, so lazy.
Catalina wasn’t really in this novel, but as I understand it, she’s to be the main protagonist of the companion novel Written in Starlight. She seems to be extremely spoiled and that’s about it. Oh and “too kind for her own good”. To me, she just seems extremely naive.
I’ll figure out whether or not I’m going to read the companion after I see the synopsis. For all I know, maybe it can redeem the things that bothered me about this novel.
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Until next time,
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