First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.

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 aristocrata 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-heated princesa, 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.

As early as December 2019, Isabel Ibanez’s Woven in Moonlight has already captured my attention because of its captivating cover. It was for this reason that I added the book in my 2020 Top 10 Books I Look Forward To List. Even though the book was published in January 2020, availing a copy of the book proved challenging. It became doubly challenging when various lockdown and quarantine protocols were imposed. Thankfully, before the year ends, I managed to purchase a copy of the book. It was out of stock but I patiently waited until the bookstore had new copies of the book.

The moment the actual book arrived, I already reserved it for reading (I have a lot of catching up for December as almost all 2020 books I ordered just arrived). After completing C Pam Zhang’s debut novel, How Much of These Hills is Gold (which is also one of the 10 Books in my 2020 most anticipated list), I immediately immersed in this novel I have been anticipating for the longest time. This is my first Ibanez novel and, if my memory serves me right, the first novel written by a writer of Bolivian heritage.

Woven in Moonlight is a fantasy novel filled with magic, the novel took inspiration from the politics, history of Bolivia, the birth country of Isabel Ibanez’s migrant parents. The story is narrated by Ximena, an Illustrian who was orphaned by the uprising that overthrew the Illustrian monarchs and cemented the ascent of the Llacsans into the pedestal of power. At the helm of this new regime is the tyrannical Atoc who demanded for the Illustrian condesa’s hand. The real condesa, Catalina, then sent Ximena to act in her stead.

Everything was well-planned, from Ximena’s entry into the Llacsan stronghold to what she was supposed to do once inside. What they didn’t plan, however, were the various intersections and crossroads that Ximena will encounter once everything is set into motion. These moral intersections formed the crux of the story and made it compelling. The buildup towards these intersections was equally riveting as it was also filled with tenterhook and tension.

The Llacsans, the Illustrians, Atoc, and Ximena, of course, are allegories which represent key figures in Bolivian history. I figured out that the Illustrians refer to the Spaniards who exploited the natural resources of the Bolivian mountains. At one point, it was mentioned that the Illustrians depleted Inkasisa’s silver mines. However, I am still trying to figure out who Atoc and Ximena represent. What also made the novel interesting are the smells of food and the other cultural milestones.

With less than 60-pages to go, I am excited to know how the novel unravels. I have some inkling on how the story will develop, if I have to derive it from the history of Bolivia’s neighboring countries. I have read a little of General Simon Bolivar’s heroics previously but it is limited and is not sufficient to create a solid conclusion. Nonetheless, it is interesting how the moral crossroads will be resolved.

How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!