Cover Image: What the River Knows

What the River Knows

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publishers for this Advanced Readers Copy of What the RIver Knows by Isabel Ibanez!
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A lovely fantasy romance by up and coming author Isabel Ibanez. I found the world building to be perfectly rendered. I wish the character growth had been more developed but this author's voice is truly unique and I think the perfect book for students looking for something different but still romantic.
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An immersive narration with a bit of everything - romance, mystery, action, and just a dash of magic.

About halfway through this book, I thought "fans of The Mummy would probably like this." And then I discovered it's one of the comps, so, you know. Uh, I guess I agree. To be more precise, this is for fans of prickly romances featuring an intelligent but sheltered young woman and a dashing self-assured man with a military history, all set in Egypt while a bunch of rich colonizer types try to steal artifacts. The action pieces are big and high energy, with mysterious deaths, a secret dig, museum rivalries, and illegal artifact sales, all described in beautiful immersive detail. Also, there is magic. And if it sounds like I threw that in there as a casual aside, it's because the book kind of does too. There's magic in the world, even if no one remembers how to control it. But pieces of it here and there are common enough that it's no big deal. At least, not yet. The story seems to imply that magic is going to be a much bigger deal in future installments, and truly I am hoping for future installments. Because that cliffhanger? Dang.
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Isabel just hits it out of the park every time! Such beautiful characters and character development. The world description and building is unbeatable and so captivating. Definitely a slow burn, with the ability to keep your attention page after page. Such a magical plot, filled with mystery and intrigue!
I preordered my copy immediately and cannot wait to dive in once more. A true gem you'll want to read over and over again!
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Actual rating 3.5/5. 

I was super torn on the rating I would apply to this book. This has been marketed as/described as perfect for fans of The Mummy (1999), and the Rick and Evie of it all. Now, I'm not going to go into significant detail here, but The Mummy is not just one of my favorite films of all time, it is a film that has genuinely impacted my life. So perhaps my bar was set a bit higher than the average reader's would. The Mummy has archaeology, horror, action, romance, comedy. It has it all. What The River Knows...does not. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this book for what it did offer.

The magic, the archaeology, the angst, the devastation, the forbidden slow burn love of it all, the BETRAYALS, the cliffhanger?! I do not know what is going onnnnn. But while I do think portions of this book dragged/was a bit on the long side for me, Inez, the main character, is so spunky I love her. I, like Whitford Hayes, would die for her. Inez's parents dedicate significant portions of their time to excavations in Egypt with Inez's uncle. She learns suddenly that her parents have died, and she races off to Egypt to discover what happened. She is swept up in the adventure, following her uncle, and his strapping and handsome young employee Whitford Hayes, to Philae in search of Cleopatra's tomb. The tomb is said to hold not only treasure, but in this world, magic. Magic has been disappearing and what remains is imbued in certain objects, some of which are believed to be connected to Cleopatra. But with her uncle, Whit, and pretty much everyone keeping secrets, Inez doesn't know who to trust, and starts to suspect that her uncle had something to do with her parents' demise.

Like I said, the cliffhanger was crazy. I hope I can still root for Whit and Inez...QUESTION MARK? I will be reading the second book.
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If you’ve ever wanted to visit Egypt at the height of the archaeological excavation frenzy that rocked the country in the 19th century, let this book take you there. Ibañez offers her reader a little bit of everything: an enemies to lovers romance, historical fiction, magic realism, and action packed Indiana Jones-style mystery adventure. Inez grew up in high society in Buenos Aires while her parents pursued their love for Egyptian archaeology in Cairo, but before her parents disappear mysteriously, Inez receives a magical ring from her father. Inez runs away to the life that has always been denied to her only to be thwarted when she arrives by her uncle’s assistant, the handsome and suspicious Whit. Although the plot and pacing could have been tighter and I could have done without Whit’s POV entirely, this book is worth the price of admission for entry to 19th c lush hotels, dangerous Nile cruises, tempting markets, magic artifacts, and best of all: Cleopatra’s tomb. Although Inez is hired on as the artist, Ibañez’s strength is the ability to paint this time period and its exotic locations so vividly in the reader’s mind. 

Thanks to St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books & NetGalley for providing a copy for review!
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Young Inez Olivera is often left behind in Buenos Aires while her parents indulge their archaeological pursuits in nineteenth century Egypt. She dreams of the day she can join them on their excavations. When news of their deaths arrives she decides to join her uncle, and guardian in Egypt. She is unexpected and unwanted. Things in Egypt are murky and mysterious. There are a lot of secrets. Inez is a plucky and determined heroine. This is the first in a series. I look forward to the next book.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing an eGalley of this title.
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Really enjoyed this. It’s not my normal book but it was very interesting and I enjoyed the dynamics in the relationships. It was adventurous and I think it will be a hit with readers.
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dnf @ 40%

I was so excited when I got approved for an advanced copy, but I’m afraid that this is one of those books where the description and cover gripped me, but the actual book just didn't live up to my expectations. I was incredibly bored for the entire first part and felt like nothing was happening. I didn't care for or feel any connection to the characters, and the setting didn't shine through the way I hoped it would. So, sadly, as much as I wanted to like it, this was not the book for me :(
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Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this first book in a duology ahead of publication. One question...when is the second book coming out???

I'm giving this book 3.75 stars but rounding up to 4.00 based on the vibes. I couldn't put this book down, despite some of the story's flaws. Our main character Inez is PLUCKY...but she wildly vacillates between brilliant and naive in ways that are simply convenient to the plot. I did try to remind myself that she is 18-19 years old, but it was just too much of a wild swing sometimes for me to ignore. I think this book has a lot of red herrings, which gets a little old, and as someone who can NEVER figure things out, I actually had a very-early-on correct feeling about one of the major surprises. There was one shock toward the end I didn't really see coming, so I'll give the author props for still surprising me. The book does end on a cliffhanger, but in some ways I feel like it's another red herring so I'm going to not lose my mind over it. With all that said, however, I still thoroughly enjoyed my experience reading this book. Egyptian mythology and British colonialism were touched upon in probably the right amounts throughout the book. The magic system, however, did not factor in to the story nearly enough, nor was it explained very well. Again, it seemed like it was a convenient plot device, but it lacked in depth. I think this was a huge missed opportunity for something that could have really been an interesting and major part of the plot. The familial relationships throughout the story are COMPLICATED and it felt very much like a soap opera. Maybe that was the intent? The romance between Inez and Whit is perhaps to be expected given Inez's age, but there was just too much of a focus on it that got to be kind of annoying...of course, I'm a woman in her 40s reading about the infatuations of a teenage girl, so perhaps I need to be a little more forgiving? The writing is lovely and pretty immersive but there were so many things going on that needed to be tightened up. I wonder if this novel suffers from an identity crisis in terms of whether it is YA or Adult? It seems too old for YA but too naive for adult fiction, so that could be part of the issues mentioned above.'s still a very enjoyable read that keeps you on the edge of your seat and wanting more! I'm curious about the author's other books, now, so clearly the flaws aren't fatal enough to keep me from reading Ibanez's other work.
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Thank you to Wednesday Books, NetGalley, and Isabel Ibañez for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

This book was fantastic from beginning to end. I didn’t want to put this down at any time, I loved it. 

This has the best mix of the movie the mummy, historical fiction, romance, intrigue, mystery, etc. This book packs in so many amazing elements. I love our FMC, she’s wily in the best way and I loved seeing her grow and learn throughout the book. 

I love how Ibañez also touches on the foreign fascination with Egypt and the way that colonialism truly desecrated aspects of the culture. From pushing out locals from being involved in their history and the stealing of artifacts - something that still to this day is not resolved. I love that we got to see this plainly through the cast of characters, which Ibañez also discusses in her author notes at the end. 

The family dynamics were at times heartbreaking, and I am hoping that there is some resolution here in book two for the sake of the characters and their happiness. 

The last 13% of this book kept me absolutely gripped, I don’t think you could have pried the book out of my hands for any reason. The final page OH MY GOD. I don’t know how I’m expected to wait for book 2 at this rate! 

Just go read this book, you won’t regret it for a moment.
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Have you ever found yourself thinking “wow, I really need more of the 1999 classic, The Mummy?” Of course you have, you’re only human. Absolutely look no further than this book. 

Inez Oliveira has spent her life yearning to join her archeologist parents on their excursions, but has been forbidden to join them. Her life has instead been spent in the care of her aunt in Argentina, being schooled in manners of polite society while learning all she can about ancient Egypt. As she nears her nineteenth birthday, she sends one last letter to her parents hoping to finally meet them in Cairo, only to learn from her uncle they both have tragically died. Left with more questions than answers, Inez runs away from her home and will not stop until she discovers the truth about her parents’ deaths. Guided by a ring sent by her father imbued with old world magic, Inez sets sail for Cairo and begins peeling back the layers of her parents’ lives, only to find herself in the middle of a dangerous game. 

What the River Knows packs adventure, betrayal and plot twists at every turn, not to mention a gloriously slow rivals to lovers / forbidden romance. Inez is one of my favorite female main characters - I love how her unwavering determination carves a path forward by any means necessary. And the touch of magic! Watching ancient Egypt come to life through remnants of old world spells is delightful. I can’t say enough about how fun this book is. This review is intentionally spoiler free, but oh my god what an ENDING. 

This is my first read from Isabel Ibañez, and I will certainly be watching for more of her works in the future. She created beautifully immersive scenes that feel indulgent without crossing the line into detail for details sake. My true rating of What The River Knows is 4.5 stars, however given that it is a perfect balance of nostalgia, adventure, and a dash of magic, I am happy to round up where I typically wouldn’t given whole number rating systems. I found a few plot movements in the second half to feel convenient, or paced too quickly in comparison with the rest of the story that briefly broke my immersion. That being said, I cannot wait to see what happens next, and I’m hoping for even more magic. I HIGHLY recommend adding it to your fall tbr!
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced reader's copy. All I can say is there better be another book as I have a lot of questions that need answers. The author did a good job of recreating late 1800s Egypt and I greatly enjoyed the bits of Egyptian history and mythology that was included. I'm a little stunned at the death of a character that happened. Definitely wasn't expecting that. Overall, a decent book with a few surprises and lots of questions to be answered.
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Literally the mummy meets Death on the Nile !! I absolutely loved this book & how quickly this book drew me in. 
I loved the main character Inez & I must say I have always been obsessed with ancient egypt & this book helped my obsession!!
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Put aside time to read this rollicking story of 19th century archeological excursions to Egypt, with magic, missing & presumed dead parents, strong female protagonist, romance, kidnapping, ancient curses, gold, and burial sites of Egyptian royalty. The ‘enemies turned to lovers’ trope works well in the book.  The book is a bit rushed towards the end of the novel. You will want to read this book again and again. I raced through the night reading this novel. Spoiler alert: a cliffhanger that makes you long for a second book. I highly recommend this book.
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I absolutely ate this book up in two days! From the very beginning, it felt like I stepped foot into Egypt in the 1800's. I immediately resonated with the main character's fighting spirit and opinionated attitude. Inez finds out her parents have gone missing in the Egyptian desert and are presumed dead after weeks of searching... but she wants more answers. This harrowing journey takes her from her typical life in Buenos Aires into an Indiana Jones type adventure in the search for the truth. This story was exciting, riveting, and breath taking. I cannot wait for what comes next.
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Really fun and engaging! Love delving into well written and researched YA books. I love the character development and the Agatha Christie vibes!
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I thought the book was well written. My only complaint would be the pacing, sometimes it was too slow, and other times much too fast. I loved all the Egyptian history and more than was entangled into this book, but sometimes it felt like detail after detail and took away from the development of characters. Overall, it was a nice read and my library will be buying it.
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My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

4.5 stars
“What the River Knows” is the story of Inez Olivera, a wealthy young Argentinian woman who learns of the deaths of her absentee parents in Egypt, where they spend most of their time. She travels there to learn what happened to them, following in their footsteps tracing the history of the last pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra. Billed as “The Mummy” meets “Death on the Nile,” this book really has a totally winning combination of excellent characters with good developmental arcs, rich historical detail, intricate plotting, a touch of magic, romance, deceit, and adventure. The breakneck pace and sudden twists kept me guessing and I devoured it in two and half days.

I really loved Inez, and Ibanez did an excellent job of dodging so many YA female protagonist pitfalls. Inez is a proper young woman in 1884, but she breaks rules and stands her ground when it’s important. She’s intelligent and skilled but not a Mary Sue, and she’s untried but no so naive that I ever cringed with secondhand embarrassment. I also really appreciated the character development in Tio Ricardo and Whit throughout the story.

Loud cheers to Isabel Ibanez for this roaring success of a book. My only complaint is that I need more because that is one of the most torturous cliffhangers I’ve ever been left on and I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. I’d also like a movie please and thank you. Run and read this when it comes out Halloween 2023!
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I was  intrigued by this book from the moment I read the description. There is the perfect mix of magic, adventure, history, archaeology, and romance. Inez has grown up feeling abandoned by her parents, who spend the majority of their time in Egypt hunting for artifacts. When she receives word that they have died she books passage from Buenos Aires to find out what happened.

I loved getting to know the main characters. I loved Inez’s wit, adventurous spirit, and resourcefulness. Learning about Whit and his backstory was also intriguing.  I really enjoyed Inez and Whit’s relationship - their banter was perfect! The few excerpts we get from Whit’s perspective were so good and helped to flesh out his character, though I wish we had more from Whit’s perspective. 

I thought the plot was exciting and fast paced. There were some predictable and not so predictable twists that kept it fun and fresh! Suffice it to say that I adored this book. And that ending!!!! I didn’t realize this was a series going into reading the book so now I’m extremely sad I have to wait to find out what happens next. But also extremely happy for another chance to be immersed in this historical fantasy world! I think anyone who loves adventure, fantasy, or even historical fiction will enjoy this book. 

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC!
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