Fantasy Reviews: Woven in Moonlight & King of Elfhame Novella

February 13, 2021 by Jenna | 3 stars, 4 stars, Books, Reviews

Fantasy Reviews: Woven in Moonlight & King of Elfhame NovellaWoven in Moonlight (Woven in Moonlight, #1) by Isabel Ibañez
Published by Page Street Publishing Co. on January 7, 2020
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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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 was a book that I knew I had to read as soon as I read the synopsis and saw the beautiful cover. And even though it took me almost 6 months to pick it up after purchasing it, it was on my TBR every single month in the last half of 2020. And I have to say that I simultaneously really enjoyed it and was disappointed by it.

Woven in Moonlight is set in a fantasy world, Inkasisa, which is a world inspired by Bolivian traditions. The Illustrian people ruled Inkasisa for centuries until they were overthrown by the Llacsans – the king of which now rules Inkasisa and has left the Illustrians in ruin and poverty. Our main character, Ximena, is the decoy for the Illustrian condesa and finds herself in enemy territory when the Llacsan king demands the condesa’s hand in marriage. Though Ximena’s main aim is to destroy the Llacsans from the inside, she soon finds that she isn’t the only one with such motives and that others may be fighting for a greater purpose – one that she may want to be part of.

First of all, I really loved the Bolivian traditions and food that were woven into this world – and I also really enjoyed the glossary at the end of the book explaining some of the different foods that were mentioned. However, I found the world building to be slightly lacking and didn’t really get a good grasp on the history of Inkasisa and the different groups that were part of the puzzle (aside from a pretty rudimentary explanation of why the Llacsans and Illustrians hated each other). I wished that we got to see a richer history of Inkasisa and how everything fit together, though I imagine this is teased out more in the companion, Written in Starlight. I enjoyed the magic in this book and seeing the abilities that each of the characters had, though the existence of such powers wasn’t really that well explained.

I quite enjoyed Ximena’s character but I struggled with the plot of the book. It was quite slow-paced and it felt like nothing was really happening throughout the entire book. It was particularly frustrating when she would have miraculously enlightening realisations halfway through the book of things that she had been iterating throughout (e.g. the whole premise of her going into enemy territory was to find some ancient relic but she seems to forget this until halfway through the novel when she suddenly realises “everything can be solved if I find the relic!”). On top of that, some aspects of the plot were quite predictable and didn’t really make for a riveting read.

Woven in Moonlight was a slightly disappointing read for me because of the slow-paced plot and the lack of rich world building. However, I did really enjoy the cast of characters and found it a joy to read about them. I just wish that there hadn’t been so many things that didn’t make sense. I’m probably unlikely to pick up the companion novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Fantasy Reviews: Woven in Moonlight & King of Elfhame NovellaHow the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5) by Holly Black, Rovina Cai
Series: The Folk of the Air #3.5
Published by Hot Key Books on November 24, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, Short Stories, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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An irresistible return to the captivating world of Elfhame.
Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.
Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone . Revealing a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan, tis tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.
This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a novella that gives readers insight into high king Cardan’s childhood and life before the Folk of the Air series. Cardan was always the character that I wanted to know more about but never got enough of in the series, since it was narrated by Jude. But this illustrated instalment is from Cardan’s perspective and gives you a peek into his life with Jude post-series, as well as glimpses of his life from childhood up until the end of the events that took place in Queen of Nothing. It does contain a lot of spoilers so I wouldn’t read this until you’ve read all three books in the series first (hence, why it’s #3.5 I guess).

I really loved the format of the novel – that it was split into chapters that acted like standalone short stories, but were also linked together into one amazing novella. I enjoyed all of the stories and wanted even more at the end. And yes, you do get glimpses of Cardan trying to navigate the mortal world. Holly Black’s writing is beautiful in this novella and I found the style to be enchanting and poetic. I also loved Rovina Cai’s illustrations throughout. They added such a fantastical and whimsical touch and really pulled me into the stories, which I think elevated the whole novella.

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a quick read that won’t disappoint if you love the Folk of the Air trilogy. It provides great insight into Cardan’s character and really fills the Cardan-shaped holes in your hearts. It’s probably one that I’ll reread over and over.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing a review copy.

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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2 responses to “Fantasy Reviews: Woven in Moonlight & King of Elfhame Novella

  1. The Bolivian aspect is definitely new to me, and wholly interesting to see how it’s crafted into the story.

    I tried to enjoy that series by Holly Black but it just wasn’t in the cards. Oh, well.

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