Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
A book based on Bolivian history with moon magic? yes please! And that is just the short premise of it. We have Ximena who has been the Condesa’s decoy for most of her life, to the point she’d die for her. But she doesn’t have to die, only marry the enemy King who is intent on destroying the few leftover Illustrians and has taken over the country.
But King Atoc is corrupt and obsessed with a drug and using it to make money while makignthe population addicted to it and slowly destroying what he built after de-throning the Illustrians.
At first I was incredibly annoyed by Ximena and Catalina (the true Condesa), but the plot was what kept me wanting to find out. I could see bits of where the inspiration for the made up things in the story came from and it made it richer and more interesting.
I never really ended up caring too much about Ximena, though she does grow a lot through the book which helped as she realises not everything she has been told and knows is actually the full truth.
We get a lot about food, weaving and clothes but not enough about the politics, history or the magic. Moon magic, come on! I was dying to know more about it, but we only really find the weaving magic and what Catalina is meant to do via the stars. Not much more is mentioned other than some healing abilities and hiding things, but not detailed enough and it is almost as if magic is an afterthought and yet it is incredibly significant to the story, so it didn’t sit well in my head the disconnect between the importance of the magic and how easily it was brished off to the side unless it was plot important. Or got Ximena out of a pickle.
The animals were cute and having El Lobo be this kind of Robin Hood/Zorro figure was fun but it was easy to guess who was behind it and it felt a bit frustrating that his part in the story is only to prompt Ximena to do things or challenge her when she’s out doing the things. We only know of him as folk hero, and again, the book feels like it only birngs certain things in as needed without any concept, and given how Ximena is that felt not right that she wouldn’t do more about it before she’s “forced” to do something about it.
A few other choices of actions for some of the characters felt odd but otherwise it was interesting and I enjoyed the story and the ideas behind it. It was fun to read and it went by fast (it didn’t feel like a drag or a struggle to read).