Tag Archives: tapestries

Review: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez

Woven in Moonlight
Isabel Ibañez
Page Street Books
Published January 7, 2020

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About Woven in Moonlight

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.

My Review

I’m kind of a sucker for books that explore post-war relationships between former enemy groups. In this case, they’re still enemies, still at war, but in WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT, Ximena finds the hate she’s nursed for Lllacsans her whole life may be based on things that aren’t true. Or based on only parts of truth.

Her emotional journey as she lives among her enemies really drew me into the story. It was complex and sometimes rough or ugly, but felt so real and understandable. I loved her character and all the layering to it. Condesa. Decoy. Survivor. Weaver. She’s so many things, and it’s really only through seeing all those things about herself that she begins to see what her future could be and what her place in that future would look like.

I kind of have to talk about El Lobo, the masked vigilante. I loved the way those threads were woven into the story. And the scenes where Ximena meets him. I was pretty sure I knew who it was from early on, but I don’t think that detracted anything from the story. I also think the author may have meant for there to be a trail of breadcrumbs, because a few of the clues were pretty pointed. So it was kind of fun feeling like I was figuring out El Lobo’s identity right along with Ximena.

I kind of wish the tapestries had had more of a role in the story. They do have a role, for sure. I guess I wanted there to be more to them – something special they could do. There is something critical to the plot that happens because of them, so it’s not like they were pointless. I loved how creative and unusual they were.

Overall, I loved so many things about this book. I can’t tell from the ending– it might be that there’s a sequel or at least a companion novel to follow? I would love to see more of this story world, and especially would love to know what happens next with Ximena and the Condesa.

If you’re a fan of stories like Zorro or the Scarlet Pimpernel– put WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT on your list! I think it’s also a great pick for fans of fantasy like The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Characters are POC – this is a Latinx-inspired fantasy.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
A couple instances of swearing in Spanish.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. One scene shows a girl waking with a boy in her bed.

Spiritual Content
Each people worship different gods/goddesses. Ximena worships Luna, a moon goddess, who blesses her weaving. Each character has some kind of magical ability.

Violent Content – trigger warning.
Battle scenes, references to torture and brief descriptions of execution. Some graphic violence described. There is also one scene in which a man gets violent with a woman.

Drug Content
Characters drink wine.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Griffin of Darkwood by Becky Citra

The Griffin of Darkwood
Becky Citra
Coteau Books
Published on August 15, 2016

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About The Griffin of Darkwood
After 12-year-old Will Poppy’s mother dies, he finds himself moving to a run-down castle with an aunt he loathes and servants who are up to no good – and that’s just the beginning of his troubles.

Will Poppy has always been fascinated with writing – he thinks there’s something almost… magical about it. But when his mother dies, Will finds himself stuck living with his awful aunt, unable to write a single word (despite the fact that two Muses will not leave him alone) and handed a mysterious package which includes an old picture of his grandparents and a piece of cloth with the words “The Griffin of Darkwood” on it.

When his aunt decides to move both of them to a small village, Will is excited for a new adventure – in a castle no less! But after a rude welcome to the town that includes stories about a curse, and an introduction to the servants of the castle who evidently mean to cause him harm, Will’s sense of dread about the whole village rises.

What is the curse the villagers claim has been on the castle for hundreds of years, and what does it have to do with the disappearance of a young girl forty years ago? More importantly, what’s the Griffin of Darkwood, and what does it have to do with Will and his family?

My Review
My favorite thing about this book was the small town where Will and his aunt move after Will’s mom dies. I liked the sense of mystery and magic the town had and the connections between Will and the town the story revealed. Will’s friends made a fun cast of characters, too. I liked the way he related to each and the surprises that came from those relationships.

The Griffin of Darkwood is a pretty quick read with a nice balance between its more sinister elements of mystery and its themes of courage and community. After the heartbreak of losing his mom and being thrust into the care of his cruel aunt, Will finds comfort in new friends and mentors in the small village where he and his aunt move. At the same time, Will struggles to dodge his aunt’s schemes and the disdain of the two castle servants, who seem to wish him ill.

In Will’s grief over his mom’s death, he gives up writing. He learns, however, that telling stories is a powerful ability, and may be something of an inescapable gift. I liked the way his writing fit into the story as a whole.

Readers who enjoy fantasy stories and mysteries will find The Griffin of Darkwood a great addition to their bookshelves and reading lists. See below for content information.

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Cultural Elements
No real cultural information or descriptions given.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Will and his mother see literal representations of their Muses—companions who visit them as they write. After his mother dies, Will continues to see his Muse and hers.

At a local bookstore, Will briefly spots literary characters like Gandalf. The shop owner doesn’t seem surprised. The castle where Will and his aunt move is haunted by ghosts. Rumor says there’s a curse on the castle.

An old woman shows Will a crystal ball and he has a terrible vision. She tells him it’s because he “fell into” the crystal ball.

Will meets with a friend who uses Tarot cards to check her future. She suggests they consult a Ouija board for more information about Will’s quest.

Someone tells Will about a legendary tapestry weaver whose tapestries changed the future. Whatever he wove came to be.

Violent Content
A man threatens to kill Will. Will and his friends hear rumors of someone once tortured in the dungeon of the castle where Will lives.

A Sparrowhawk (bird of prey) catches a pigeon. A man tells Will that the bird will kill its prey.

Will finds tapestries depicting a group hunting for a griffin.

Drug Content