Cover Image: What the River Knows

What the River Knows

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Member Reviews

WHAT THE RIVER KNOWS by Isabel Ibanez is a 3.5 stars for me. I got lucky to have received this ARC. What pulled me in was the fact that it’s currently being marketed as ‘for fans of THE MUMMY’ movies, and that sold me. That had me because I absolutely love the characters of Evie and Rick from the movie, so here it’s Inez and Whitford (Whitford is such an odd name to be because it feels like it should be a last name, but maybe it was a common name that I’m not aware of).
There were many things I loved about the book, but I want to delve into what I didn’t first. The lack of magic in this story was odd. It’s only because it was mentioned throughout the novel here and there that magic was involved, but sometimes this felt like an afterthought. I don’t know if the author is trying to foreshadow what’s to come in the future books, and if that’s the case, it could have been stronger. Otherwise, I feel the attempt at the magical system in this book could have been left out and kept solely as a historical. In all honesty, the book could have also been standalone. This leads me to the cliffhanger at the end…which I completely felt so confused with. It felt like an afterthought so the story could continue into book 2. I don’t think a duology is necessary because they resolved the mystery in this book already, so I am unsure what is to come in the second part. Basically, at the end, there’s a huge deception, and I guess book 2 will unravel this deception/ betrayal. I found this puzzling because I wondered if I had missed the author’s hints and foreshadowing throughout the novel.
Sometimes I found Inez to be childish and bratty. Maybe teenage me would have been in awe by her at times, but current-me rolled my eyes sometimes. Inez here diverges from the spunky, intelligent, and quirky ways of Evie from THE MUMMY, but this didn't deter me. I mean Inez isn’t meant to be Evie, so I tried to remember that.
As for what I love, I can totally talk about the world-building of the historical period. The author did a lovely job really bringing Egypt to life with her characters traversing in this world. The mystery aspect was done quite well. Simple enough where I knew from the get-go whodunit. The buildup of the romance between Inez and Whitford was quite sweet. Their story did remind me of Evie and Rick for sure, and I loved that I could see their banter, chemistry, and care for each other throughout the journey. I could almost imagine the story playing out like a movie, so I appreciated the story very much with the things I have loved here. I do think fans of THE MUMMY will enjoy this book.
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An exciting and treacherous adventure through Egypt searching for an ancient tomb, where Inez Olivera, our headstrong MC, gets more than what she bargained for. What's not to like about this book? Action, adventure, Egyptian tombs, intrigue and danger. There is even magic -- which is known to the world; rare but not so out of the ordinary. 

I loved Inez, she was headstrong, independent and stubborn as all hell; a dog with a bone. While she is all of these things, there is still a vulnerability to her and potentially too trusting of others. I also enjoyed Whit, who we sometimes see the story from his point of view. I enjoy their cheeky banter and flirting once they realize that they don't despise each other. 

The setting was lush and vibrant, sticking you right into the middle of a storm on the Nile, down in the depths of unexplored tombs, or in the middle of the market in Cairo. The story was expertly paced and imaginative throwing curve balls left and right. While the last page broke my heart into a thousand pieces, I'm very much looking forward to the next book in this duology.

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Isabel Ibanez for an e-ARC of this book.
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This novel definitely has some strengths, and it seems like the overall reviews are positive! The main heroine is feisty and clever, and I can definitely see the influence of the Mummy in the romance. That being said, I had a hard time getting into this. Maybe it’s the writing style or not really having enough curiosity up front about what happened to her parents. Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be finishing this one. /DNF
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This book was any persons who loves Egyptian myths and history’s dream book. I absolutely loved the story of Inez the author wrote about and how she evolves as a character as the story goes on. The twists and turns made this book truly thrilling the read. The timeline in which this book was written as added to the storyline as the British colonialism really shows how taken advantage of the Egyptian people and tombs were. Plus that twist at the epilogue was out of this world, I’m crossing my fingers for a follow up book!
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This book was very beautiful in the first half and so atmospheric! I loved Inez and she was a very strong-willed, determined, and adventurous individual. Whit was also very charismatic and had some very Rick-esc qualities about him. I think what I struggled with in this book was the pacing. The pacing started to drag a little in the second half and I struggled. I liked these characters, but the plot and magic were a little messy. I feel like this book could have been a standalone (but I don’t know what the author wants to do in the second book, so that’s a personal opinion), and some of the magic and pacing issues could’ve been more worked out that way. I am thankful for the opportunity to read this book and all in all this is an enjoyable book.
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I wanted to love this more than I did. Based on the description, this had everything I love in a story, Ancient Egypt, mystery, magic, and romance!  The execution, however, left me disappointed.

Things I enjoyed:
- The cover - how can you not like the beautiful cover?!
- Themes of family, love, and betrayal
The Author’s note at the end was really insightful, and you can tell she did her research for the story

Things I struggled with:
- The pacing was uneven. The opening of the story moves fast, but as we arrive in Egypt, things slow down
- The magic system - I was expecting the magic element of the story to be more prominent in the story. I was let down that the magic played such a small role
- The genre of this book is listed as YA (Young Adult), but I felt this story leans more towards NA (New Adult). While the main character’s actions come across as very young, there are other parts of this story that aren’t traditionally thrown in YA novels, such as gun violence, substance abuse, etc. 
- The romance felt like insta-love. There was no lead-up to the romance
- This is not a standalone - I prefer knowing if a book is part of a series. I did not know that going in, so I was a bit disappointed when the ending unfolded
While I enjoyed aspects of this story, and the ending was very cryptic,  I will not be continuing with this series.
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Thank you St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books/Netgalley for the eARC!

I have mixed feelings about  Isabel Ibañez previous works... but when I saw the synopsis for this one, I knew that at least I have to give it the benefit of the doubt. I can't say I was disappointed--because it was what I expected. Her strengths remain the do what I consider to be her weaknesses with the writing craft. Again we have lovely writing and a lush setting coupled with a high-concept hook. On the flip side, we again have the poor character growth that really stunts the novel where it could be incredible. What's more disappointing than that? I did LIKE this book, hence the three-star rating... but I wish it could've been more.
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Book Review: What the River Knows 

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. Words can’t describe 😭 I was trying to read it as slowly as possible so I can enjoy it and savour it. 

Idk where to even start, but this is truly Death on the Nile meets The Mummy (1999) with lots of romance and adventure and it was just so well written. I loved the writing, it was simple yet lyrical. I loved the characters, especially Inez I could see myself in her a lot. I could understand her wanting to explore Egypt, to see where her parents spent all of their time. Her wonder, her bitterness, her sadness… I felt it all and could relate to her so much ❤️ And I really enjoyed the mc as well, Whit had… well, he was witty for one 🫣🤭 He seemed so dorky and grumpy and his “rivalry” and enemies-to-lovers relationship with the fmc was really well written. THE BANTER I SWEAR 🤌🏻

I always loved reading about Cleopatra ever since I was a child since ancient Egypt always fascinated me due to its history and mythology (and the fact she was Greek but had been the only one to learn the customs and languages of the people her family were ruling over was super interesting to me) so this book was definitely a treat since Cleopatra’s story is so important to the plot. The magic in this story was interesting too, and how there were magical arts lost to the ancient times, and yet certain objects containing magic remain amongst people in “modern” times! Loved that. 

I don’t think you guys will be disappointed with this one I really really recommend 🥰 it’s one of my favourite books of the year for sure! I feel so lucky to have gotten an e-arc. 

I can’t wait for the second book I really hope it comes out soon… the cliffie 😭 hurt so good. I didn’t expect it one bit and may have accidentally thrown my kindle across the room (unscathed thankfully lol)
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Wow. I loved this! My favorite of Isabel's books for sure!

The question driving Inez is what happened to her parents? And she is extremely passionate and brave about getting answers. She keeps making bold decisions. I wouldnt quite call it a romantasy, but it does have a very strong romantic subplot. 

I think the best thing about this is the lens Ibanez has chosen to tell the story through. An Argentinian/Spanish main character whose family loves archaeology and are all drawn to one of the biggest, if not the biggest, archaeological excavation locations in history, Egypt. Which is a vast mutlicultural hub full of tourists and unfortunately, British Occupation. The novel doesnt shy away from the realities of this. Of the ugliness that was the British Empire. Which is something I appreciated. The absolute robbery of Egyptian artifacts and culture is a prominent theme hanging throughout the story. 

The mystery of what happened is a major driving factor, which does involve keeping a majority of secrets from the main character that could have solved a whole lot of issues quickly if theyd just talked about them, but! I think it was done well and reasonable and the romance subplot filled in all the gaps where I would have grown impatient otherwise. So no complaints. 

I loved the culture. I loved the romance.

I do not love that I read an ARC and now have to wait that much longer for thr sequel. 😭

Thanks Wednesday for the galley. ❤️
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What the River Knows follows a young woman as she seeks to discover what’s happened to her parents while they were excavating in Egypt. She meets a handsome yet frustrating man upon arrival that definitely knows some things. This story had so many elements that had me screaming YES! Overall, I enjoyed the historical and archaeological setting. I was rooting for the enemies to lovers trope to come to fruition. Many of the rash decisions made by the MC felt age appropriate. However, it took me forever to read this book because I would get bored. I enjoyed the story overall, but I think (since it will have a sequel) it could have been more tightly structured into one exciting book. I think the setting and subject matter will definitely have a wide range of appeal to many YA readers but the pacing may not work for everyone.
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4 stars! Wow! This was my first book by Isabel Ibanez and I really enjoyed it!

What the River Knows is set in the late 1800s and follows Inez, a young Bolivian-Argentinian woman. Inez's parents spend 6 months out of the year in Egypt excavating ancient sites. Inez (reasonably) feels left out and abandoned. Inez learns of her parents' deaths and soon she sets out to Egypt to discover what happened to them. 

What the River Knows expertly blends historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, and romance. 
-Starting with the historical fiction element - I felt immersed in the culture and times of 1800s Egypt. This book is so beautifully descriptive, I felt as though I was really there!
-The fantasy element is light - certain objects have ancient magic imbued in them which is a fun and unique idea! Inez's father sends her a magical ring which is imbued with ancient memories! 
-As for the mystery, there is a great plot of Inez trying to discover what happened to her parents and why they wanted to spend so much time in Egypt, away from her. I thought some of the plot points were predictable, but it was still enjoyable over all.
-The romance was great! It's slow-burn, with banter! The banter had me giggling at times! We did get some of Whit's POV, but it was infrequent and added at seemingly random times. 

All together, this book was fun, engaging, and hooked me. 

I do think this book dragged a bit, especially towards the end. 

I wasn't aware that this was a series, so the ending let me REELING! I definitely want to continue the series!

Thank you to NetGallery and St. Martin's Press for the eARC!
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Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC!

I don’t even think the plot’s surface has even been scratched yet. Be prepared to take everything you know and throw it in the river because it was all a lie. 

This was my first novel by Isabel Ibañez and let me say I am blown away, this book left me REELING!!! That ending?! After that, I seriously don’t think I’m ready for what happens in book 2. Isabel did a fantastic job writing this novel and I honestly couldn’t get enough. You have slow-burn romance, great character building, laugh-out-loud moments, dangerous adventures, murder, and a heavily thought out betrayal. The twists and unexpected turns that this book has kept me on my toes the whole time and I loved every minute of it. 

Isabel captures a historic Egypt set in 1884 beautifully. She is able to blend lightly tinkered true events with fantasy by giving the world realistically enhanced tools that come with a forgotten backstory. The novel follows Inez, who is everything she shouldn’t be. She is headstrong, trusting, ahead of her time, loves a good challenge, and refuses to bend to society's rules. This young lady is determined to live life to the fullest and never take no for an answer. 

I am not typically a fan of mystery because I typically find it dull but What The River Knows was anything but! I’ve already preordered my copy and it is going to be a great read for those wanting a thrilling mystery with a semi spooky feel just in time for Halloween. I highly suggest it is added to your TBR!
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This is the first book that I have read by Ibanez and I enjoyed it. The story was intriguing and the cliff hanger will have me reading the next book for sure. The setting was interesting and the plot was intriguing. I'm hoping that the world building as it pertains to magic will be more fleshed out in the second book. I did find the storyline with her cousin to be a bit odd and out of place, especially with how her character ends up. All in all, an interesting and immersive read.
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This was a 3, maybe 3 1/2, until the last 2 or 3 chapters. I had a feeling about what was going on and I WAS RIGHT and IT WAS GOOD. I definitely look forward to the sequel and I will definitely buy this book when it comes out. I'd like to commend the cover artist; it's excellent work. Definitely draws the reader in.
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What the River Knows is about Inez, the daughter to a wealthy family in Argentina, who has hardly seen her mother and father as they spend most of the year in Egypt, investing and involved in the excavation efforts of the late 1800s. When Inez gets word that her parents have died, she rushes to make her way there to find out what happened to them, but there’s much more going on and she has to figure out what it means before it kills her.

I loved the fantasy and magic aspects throughout this book - there are many magical artifacts being excavated with varying abilities. This is very common place in this time and world and I loved the way it added to the storyline overall. I also absolutely loved the wealth throughout - it was intoxicating and mesmerizing to read about the settings. The author did an incriminating job creating a fascinating setting with a gritty underbelly.

I also really liked Inez - she was stubborn but absolutely not over the top, which I find myself getting annoyed easily over. It was the right amount of stubborn to keep the storyline going, but not enough to roll your eyes. 

I wasn’t sure throughout- I was constantly thinking it was someone else out maybe there was another piece to the puzzle and I loved that I didn’t put it together. The cliffhanger was crazy and I can’t believe I’ll have to wait for the next book!

ARC was provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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When I first heard about this book, it was from a fellow Booktoker and after her comparing it to The Undertaking of Hart & Mercy and The Mummy meets Death on the Nile, I was sold. I immediately requested the ARC and thanks to NetGalley & Wednesday Books, I was able to get the chance to read this incredible book!

First, the premise- the book is rightfully marketed as The Mummy meets Death on the Nile and I wouldn't change a thing about this description. You have the boat trip down the Nile, searching for an Egyptian burial site and a roguish love interest with a mysterious past. The story begins with Inez, a young woman who has spent her whole life being left behind as her parents travel Egypt for half of the year. She desperately wants to experience their adventures with them, and sadly gets her wish in an unexpected way when she discovers they've gone missing and presumed dead on a dig in Egypt. When she takes it upon herself to find out what happened by joining her parents' partners (including her now guardian and Uncle) she gets more questions than answers. She also becomes caught up in a "will they or won't they" enemies to lovers situation with the charming Whitford Hayes, her uncle's right hand man whose job description includes anything and everything, even if its legality is questionable. 

The story included really vivid descriptions of the setting but did so without bogging down the story. The dialogue was well balanced with the description and it made you feel like you were there. And the chemistry between the two main characters Whit and Inez was AMAZING. I was ridiculously giddy every time they were thrown into another scene together. It was an incredibly well done slow burn that was both hopeful and heart breaking w/ a side of adventure all at the same time. 

I was also really impressed with the twists and turns of the story. The author did a great job of engaging you with the story so much that the plot twists catch you by surprise even though when you look back you can see the breadcrumbs she left as clues. The continuity from start to finish was flawless. 

This is one of my favorite reads of the year and I'm already counting down the days for a sequel! 

Thank you to NetGalley & Wednesday Books for this ARC to review. :)
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3.5 stars rating

I knew before even starting What the River Knows by Isabel Ibanez that this book would pull me in. With beautiful writing, lush descriptions of both Egypt and the historical time period, a fantasy-mystery plot, and all the romantic tension between the main character and the love interest, I knew there was something special about this book. 

That being said, I enjoyed the first half of the novel more than the second. Some parts are a bit slow to start as the story unfolds to explain the historical context and the light magic system, but I found myself enthralled immediately by Inez’s story. I appreciate her gumption in setting out to learn more about her parents’ disappearance despite the social norms of the time. 

Despite the slower pacing, this book still has a lot of excitement. From Inez running off to explore Cairo and learning secrets about what really happened to her parents to sneaking aboard a ship set to sail down the Nile and helping with an excavation site, this story has all the makings of an exciting historical fantasy. I even adored the slow burn romance between Inez and Whit, despite how repetitive it felt at times. 

But about two-thirds of the way through, the story seemed to shift and it threw me off guard. There were numerous plot twist reveals that came across more for shock value than to further the plot. Several characters that were introduced briefly at the beginning or simply name dropped became important later, especially for the cliffhanger ending everybody seems to be raving about, but I had a hard time keeping track of who they were or why I should have remembered them half a book later. There just wasn’t enough build up or foreshadowing for the turn of events, and I was left more confused than satisfied. I wish that this book was the start of a trilogy with the discovering of Cleopatra’s tomb and maybe Inez learning her father might be alive the focus of book one and let the events of the last 10 chapters or so be the focus of book two and whatever the author has planned for the sequel to be the events of book three. 

While I feel a bit disgruntled at the ending, I still want to read book two in hopes that it will help the muddled ending of book one make more sense. Isabel Ibanez has such great writing and ideas, so I wish her all the best with this series.
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I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Based on the description, it is right up my alley! Unfortunately, the pacing was a bit too slow in the beginning and I found the magic system to be underwhelming as it plays such a small role in the story. I did really enjoy how immersive the Egyptian setting was but ultimately I will not be continuing with this series.
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A stellar 4 star.

I’m giving this 4 stars because I reeeeaaallly enjoyed it. This was indirectly recommended to me as a book for people who had an ancient Egyptian obsession—which I still have, but with romance. Inez is our MC, lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and her parents spend over half the year working in and around Cairo, Egypt. She is (rightly) in her feelings about it. Well, she ends up in Cairo against her parents’ and uncle’s wishes and of course meets a handsome Brit named Whit(Whitford) who works for her uncle. I wasn’t feeling the tension between them in the beginning but after this moment on a boat… I was feeling it. I thought the writing was nice as well. The setting was lovely, I loved all descriptions of the different parts of Egypt, loved their time on ships on the Nile and of course love the historical elements about pharaohs of Egypt and the excavation work they were doing in this story.  There was some twists and turns I did NOT see coming, especially the end. But lemme say I thought this was a stand-alone and IT IS NOT. That damn cliffhanger ending, I’m mad about it. I haven’t read the auhtor’s Woven In Moonlight books but this was a great historical fantasy. I think it could’ve been a little shorter since there’s obviously another book coming. But I’d still recommend.
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I love this book a lot. The characters were engaging, the world building was beautiful, and I loved the whole atmosphere of the book. I will absolutely be checking out more work by this author!
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