Cover Image: What the River Knows

What the River Knows

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Member Reviews

I wish I could go back in time and force myself to savor this instead of devouring it because now I'm finished and I'm sad. I will be desperately awaiting the sequel. This was so fun and well written! Again, just say The Mummy vibes and I'm there, but this was great and stands on it's own. I'm in love with Whit.
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While it took a while to get this book going, it was so good once you got into the swing of things. While a couple of the twists were predicable, they were done in such a good way that it didn't matter. 

I loved the descriptions of Egypt, and that the author did quite a bit of historical work to make sure things were accurate. She painted lovely scenes that you could really envision. 

I loved the way the relationships in the story played out. The ongoing and building tension between Whit and Inez being almost tangible. The constant second guessing about her mother, father, uncle, and even Whit. 


I will say that this book was really pretty long for ending in a cliffhanger. And not just the epilogue cliffhanger, but none of the ends were tied up nicely. It just wasn't a good stopping point. EVERYTHING WAS JUST INCOMPLETE. I just wish some part of the story line was completed.

There were quite a few grammar and wording errors, I think it needs one more edit for those before being published.

I'd like to thank NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the eARC  in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you so much to the publisher and to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review. 

This book is touted as "The Mummy" meets "Death on the Nile" and oh, boy, is it.

I mean, holy smokes. I was in a book coma for 3 full days after reading this and honestly? I don't know if I've recovered. Finding a book that lives up to the feeling that this book created will be a herculean task. 

Simply every aspect of this book was sheer perfection: the prose, the pacing, the worldbuilding (set in late 19th century Bolivia and Egypt, it's realistic, vibrant, and fully-realized), the romantic tension and sniping (enemies to lovers done SO FREAKING WELL), and the twists! I did NOT see the end twist coming. Isabel Ibanez is masterful, and the sequel is one that I am desperate for. 

I cannot recommend this enough.
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“The Mummy meets Death on the Nile in this lush, immersive historical fantasy set in Egypt filled with adventure, a rivals-to-lovers romance, and a dangerous race.” You had me at this blurb right from the beginning! The Mummy is one of my all time favorite movies and I definitely felt that vibe while reading this book, and not only in the Egyptian setting.

I absolutely adored this book and wish I had gotten around to reading it a LOT sooner. The characters are by far my favorite part of this character driven story set in the time of early discovery and adventurous expeditions in Egypt. The settings are rich and immersive and the hint of magic is the perfect dose.

The Blurb:

Bolivian-Argentinian Inez Olivera belongs to the glittering upper society of nineteenth century Buenos Aires, and like the rest of the world, the town is steeped in old world magic that’s been largely left behind or forgotten. Inez has everything a girl might want, except for the one thing she yearns the most: her globetrotting parents—who frequently leave her behind.

When she receives word of their tragic deaths, Inez inherits their massive fortune and a mysterious guardian, an archeologist in partnership with his Egyptian brother-in-law. Yearning for answers, Inez sails to Cairo, bringing her sketch pads and an ancient golden ring her father sent to her for safekeeping before he died. But upon her arrival, the old world magic tethered to the ring pulls her down a path where she soon discovers there’s more to her parent’s disappearance than what her guardian led her to believe.

With her guardian’s infuriatingly handsome assistant thwarting her at every turn, Inez must rely on ancient magic to uncover the truth about her parent’s disappearance—or risk becoming a pawn in a larger game that will kill her.

Now as I am giving this a glowing review it so richly deserves there is one great big huge glaring problem with the end of this book-The mother of ALL cliffhangers! I hate them and forewarned this is not a completed series so you will have to wait for the next instalment whenever that maybe as this book was just released. And I will generally nock off a star for a cliffhanger such as this. There was some bits toward the end that I felt unnecessary but maybe will flow better in the following instalments of the series, assuming it is a series because if not, the unanswered questions and cliffhanger are then just mean. But to be fair the story was wonderful and I love the characters and their Camaraderie and especially our heroine, Inez who has that vein of mischievousness about her. So I’ll be giving this a 4/5 stars (I only subtracted half a star for the cliffhanger).

I recieved a copy of this book from Netgally for a fair and honest review.
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The pacing felt uneven to me and had moments where it felt like the plot was spinning its wheels. And while Ibañez's Whit for me didn't quite reach the charm levels of Rick O'Connell, a lot of readers I think will find this scratches the itch for a The Mummy-esque romantic adventure.
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In What the River Knows, we follow our MC, Inez, who is a girl who grew up in Buenos Ares with her aunt and cousins, as her parents spent half of the year in Egypt without her, until they go missing and are presumed dead. Inez then travels to Egypt, where her uncle is an archeologist searching for Cleopatra’s tomb, to determine what happened to them. This book was a wild ride from start to finish. While it was predictable and pretty linear, it was still a super fun, hard to put down read.

I loved the different familial relationships between Inez and her parents, uncle, aunt, and cousins. Reading from Inez’s POV really highlighted the hurt and loss she felt at being left behind while her parents went to Egypt. I think the book really highlighted how naive children can be regarding their parents. Without getting spoilery, Inez definitely had some blind spots when it came to her thoughts and feelings toward various family members. 

I wish the magic system was more fleshed out. It was a little confusing at times and vague and seemed to only happen when it was important for the plot or for convenience. The idea of magic leaving behind “remnants” was a super cool concept but ultimately fell flat because I was confused how the magic worked. At times, we were told the magic would fade away as more people handled an object yet, some objects, seemed to have infinite magic? Maybe I missed something but it seemed confusing and contradictory. The ending also appeared to be rushed. So much happened in the last 15% of this book and nothing was fully developed because it was rushed. Then THAT EPILOGUE happened and left me feeling confused and wanting to know more. I did go into this thinking it was a standalone, so that may explain why I was thrown off by the ending.

Despite those minor issues, this was an enjoyable read. Solid 3.75 stars! 

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press/Wednesday Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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WOW! What an adventure!
This book was beautiful. Right from the beginning were swept into Inez's world of Argentina, when tragedy strikes we're transported to Egypt. This book is full of vivid imagery that brings the setting to life, lets you taste the food, feel the emotions! 
The book is filled with adventure, action, history, witty humor, romance, and betrayal. There is so much to love. 
Join Inez as she sets out on a journey to find the truth about what her parents used to do for half the year in Egypt. When Inez arrives in Egypt she is thwarted at every turn, no one having faith she can be of help, no one believing she has value or a reason to be there. She is fierce and brave and determined to do anything she can to uncover the truth, regardless of what she has to do to uncover it. On her journey, her main obstacle is outmaneuvering her uncle and his "brawny" assistant. Her path uncovers not only clues to what happened to her parents but also clues to an ancient tomb of Egypt's last pharaoh. The book brings in so much Egyptian history and landscape you feel as if you are on the archaeological sights with the team. It is so fun to travel through the country, learn about its history, and unearth artifacts with archaeologists. This book is unique and fun. Does Inez find her place among their crew? Does Inez find love or heartbreak along the way? Read What the River Knows and find out!
Cannot wait for book two!
Thank you Wednesday Books (St. Martin's Press) and NetGalley for an advanced e-reader copy of this amazing book!
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I absolutely love historical fiction and the description of the world was superb. Loved the characters and wish they had a bit more depth? I guess? A bit slow at times but overall a good read. Received this eARC through NetGalley for my unbiased opinion. Thank you!
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Inez lives in nineteenth century Buenos Aires, but her heart goes with her parents every year when they spend six months is Egypt on expeditions. When she receives word that both of her parents have perished in a mysterious accident and no bodies have been recovered, she sneaks aboard a ship bound for Cairo to see what she can find out. 

I love the blend of romance, history and magic in this novel. Inez enters Cairo at an exciting time of exploration and discovery. She meets fascinating people and hearing about the digs and travel in that part of the world at that time was really interesting. I always love a book that is solidly based in the real world, but lets magic sneak in the cracks. I recommend pre ordering this one, or picking it up when it comes out November 14th!
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What's the river nose was described as a rivals two lovers romance with the vibes of The Mummy. I did find the vibes to be on point. I absolutely loved the lush descriptions and the world building hit the mark for me. 

I had a few pacing issues. It felt a little slow at times and I found myself wandering from the story. I felt some of the slower times in the book could have been shortened to keep the pacing more even. I also did not care for the voices made with Inez cousin. She was very one dimensional to me and I feel like a real opportunity was missed for a wonderful side character to help develop Inez even further. But it felt like Elvira was simply in the story to push along the plot. Not enhance it. 

I did enjoy the romance aspect. I knew this was YA so I wasn't expecting anything overly spicy, but it was actually an enjoyable romance to read. 

Overall I would read more by this author. I felt there was more positive than negative concerning the book.
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This book is pitched as the Mummy meets Death on the Nile, and What the River Knows delivers on that premise! What the River Knows is a historical romantic fantasy set in Egypt in 1884. Inez Olivera travels from her home of Buenos Aires to Egypt after the mysterious death of her parents, who spent most of their lives on archeological digs. When she arrives, she tracks down her uncle and his insufferable (and handsome) assistant, Whitford Hayes. There's mystery and romance and adventure, and it was truly everything I wanted.

Isabel Ibañez is such a descriptive and immersive writer. I felt truly transported to Egypt, and every scene in this book felt cinematic. Her verbs always pack a punch and feel snappy, and I admire her craft so much. Her books are always so visceral.

The rivals-to-lovers romance in What the River Knows is top-tier, and the banter between Inez and Whit is honestly some of my favorite ever. 

The cliffhanger ending has me eagerly anticipating the sequel! WTRK is one of my favorite reads of 2023.
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**More like a 2.5.

I confess I am not the intended audience for this book as I don't read YA fantasy often, but I'd had luck with Isabel Ibanez in the past and this book sounded so interesting and unique that I had to try it. The main thing that appeals to me is her lush writing and her ability to seamlessly create the worlds she writes about. I don't think I've read from any author who can create atmosphere as well as Ibanez can, and that certainly isn't lacking in this book. Where this book went wrong for me was every relationship and issue centered around secrecy and lack of communication. Some of it was convincing and made sense for the story, but it was so incessant it took me out of the story a lot of the time. The main character was fully realized but all of her relationships felt shallow, and so I couldn't be as invested as I would've liked. Truly enjoyed the atmosphere but everything else was a bit lacking.
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(This is a spoiler free review buT) WHAT WAS THAT ENDING?!?

I knew it was coming. I predicted it. AND STILL IT HIT ME LIKE A TRAIN. I don’t know how I am just supposed to continue on with such a cliffhanger. 

This was a phenomenal book. It was atmospheric, full of wit (and Whit) and charm. The characters were fleshed out and relatable. The pacing never felt too fast, and while at times it moved a little slow, it had a lot of heart and emotion. 

My only real gripes were that the dialogue felt more like bad imitations of what people *think* those in the 18th century talked like, the writing voice felt a little too modern to me for historical fiction, and Whit’s POV would occasionally be tacked on at the end of certain chapters—but there was nothing to tell the reader when the POV switched back to Inez in the following chapter. It did make it a little confusing at first.

But overall this was a fantastic read. And that ending. That ending is going to be murdering me until book 2 is out. As always I am just in awe of Isabel Ibañez. 

*Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the ARC! All views reflected are my own.
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4/5 stars.  To be released November 2023.

This was marketed with "The Mummy" vibes, so naturally I had to pick it up.  The story follows Inez, who travels from Argentina to Egypt after learning that her parents have died.  She meets up with her uncle and the handsome Whit and becomes part of their adventure to find the tomb of Cleopatra.  What's unique about this is there is a dash of magic that infiltrates the story.  It's not at the forefront, but instead is a remnant of an older world that gives Inez insight into Cleopatra's life and demise.  You definitely to not know who to trust throughout the course of the book and I was absolutely shocked by a few turn of events!  The book ended on a cliff hanger, and probably one of my favorite lines ever, and I can't wait until the sequel!
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Thanks to Netgalley for my ARC. When I saw this novel advertised, I was so excited to request it early and even more excited when I got the arc. Historical Egyptian adventures are rare to find in fiction, and The Mummy movies are my favorites. So I was champing at the bit to read What the River Knows. I really wish I'd loved the book as much as I wanted to. 

Inez is an heiress from Buenos Aires. Raised with her cousins, Inez hardly knows her parents, who prefer to spend most of their time exploring Egypt and refuse to bring her along. Before her 19th birthday, she sends a letter pleading to finally be allowed to visit. But the responding letter comes from her uncle: her parents are dead. Inez packs up everything she owns and journeys to Egypt to discover what really happened to her parents. 

What the River Knows boasts an Egyptian adventure similar to The Mummy; instead we get a novel that doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. Is it adult? The main character is 19; the love interest is presumed in his 20s. All the characters are definitely adults. There's graphic gun violence, murder, brothels, and alcohol addiction. Is it YA? The main character acts like a rebellious, reckless child 90% of the time. The writing feels dumbed down, and the characters get all worked up over chaste kisses. Is it historical? It's set in Victorian Egypt with a backdrop of British colonialism. But it wants to be fantasy, because magic is *real* but for some reason, no one bothered to write any of it down. So no one practices it, and the magic lingers on enchanted objects like dust. 

Inez is reckless to a fault. It's less-so a character trait and more her entire personality. She has no regard for anyone and is constantly putting herself and others in danger. And when things turn sour, Inez continues to make it worse. Whit is an interesting character, but his POV feels like an afterthought. The "romance" between Whit and Inez has almost too much tension, like it's artificially tense and annoyingly wishy-washy. And the constant lying from all the characters was exhausting. Half the conflict could've been avoided with communication - if Inez was adult enough to demand the truth faster. 

The magic is weirdly underutilized and mundane. People use random enchanted objects that do little tricks (like a handkerchief that shrinks things and a sandal that lights on fire) but they have no idea how to cast enchantments, because no one wrote the spells down? Magic is normal, and not really a big deal, but also definitely not needed in this society. The author chose to keep the world almost exactly like ours historically, except for the magic. I think it would've made sense to keep magic secret and unknown (yes, like The Mummy) until it's discovered randomly and has story influencing implications. But the author chose to make magic normalized and mostly useless. 

Okay, now let's talk about the fridging - the real reason I'm absolutely disappointed. We meet Inez's cousin and sidekick Elvira in the beginning. She's portrayed as Inez's biggest supporter, best friend, and closest family. She does whatever she can to protect Inez from her mother and is a bubbly, doting girly-girl. Elvira is given absolutely zero personality traits outside of being ditzy and loving her cousin. Elvira would do anything for Inez, including following her to Egypt to support her quest to find out why her parents died, *without* Inez knowing. So when Elvira arrives in Egypt and finally finds her cousin, she's kidnapped not even 24 hours after being with Inez, kept prisoner in an Egyptian tomb and then murdered right in front of Inez. Elvira's only purpose was to love Inez and die for it - a poor choice by the author that I absolutely hated. 

I hate that I didn't enjoy this novel; I just wish the author had made different decisions. 

2 stars
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I have been craving a book like this for forever it seems - they just don't write teen historical fiction well anymore. Thank the stars for Isabel Ibanez! This book was everything I had been wanting and missing. Excellent dialogue, solid historical accuracy and details, an independent, likeable heroine, romance, exotic locations, Egypt and archaeology! It was incredible. How she writes is more like poetry than fictions, and I just savored each word, phrase, and page and was very sorry when it ended. I will definitely be buying this book in print! TEN STARS!
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What the River Knows was such a fun read, and I can hardly wait for the second book. Part of me wishes I hadn’t read this until the second book was written and published so I could immediately know what happens next. I will definitely be getting my hands on the second book as soon as possible. 
This book had everything. There was adventure, Egyptology, mystery, magic, strong willed characters, romance and more. The publishers were spot on when they described it as a cross between “The Mummy” and “Indiana Jones”.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
#WhattheRiverKnows #NetGalley
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I really struggled with this book.
The story's pace seemed to either go too slow or too fast. There were pages of descriptions or, even worse reflections on the characters' emotions, that just seemed to go on forever. Then the action sequences just used minimalistic detail and were brief to the point of skipping over what happened.
Then there was the issue of dangling storylines. There were too many questions left at the end. Maybe that was in anticipation of a sequel but I was more frustrated than intrigued.
I really wanted to like this book because it had all of my favorite things. A strong heroine, mystery, magic, and archeology. So I was sadly disappointed when the story didn't live up to my expectations.
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What the River Knows is such a fantastic book!  I loved pretty much everything about this one.  The setting was perfect and it was really cool to learn more about Egypt, its history, and the Nile.  The characters were top-notch.  I really loved  Inez Olivera, her Uncle, and Whit,  Inez and Whit had crazy chemistry, and the Uncle was well-meaning at times but really needs to work on how he treats people.  The story is an adventure, mystery, and romance with a touch of magic.  Really the perfect combination.  The twists and turns were legitimate surprises that you will not see coming.  I loved this book and cannot wait for the next one.
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What the River Knows is an adventure that will have set your emotions on a wild loop ranging from heartache to determination to suspicion. 

My first book by Isabel Ibanez. 

The worldbuilding is well done and the intentions of the characters are clear even when most of the characters are keeping their secrets tight. 

I didn't quite feel connected to all of the characters, although I did feel Inez had so many bad days and wanted her to have a good day to rest her heavy heart. 

Whit's pov greatly added to the story and I wish there was more of his pov to balance out with Inez's to really feel the yearning and tension and romance between the characters. 

The story had a few twists and turns that kept me hooked and the ending was not something I fully expected. It will be interesting to see how the sequel plays out! If anything I hope there is justice for Inez!
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