Cover Image: What the River Knows

What the River Knows

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Beautifully written Historical Fiction with a bit of fantasy that comes together in such a lively, hard-to-put-down, tell-everyone-about-it book. You can tell that the author Isabel Ibañez did her research on this one! That combined with a gift of storytelling is pure magic. 
Inez is a strong female lead who is smart and witty. Raised in Buenos Aries with parents that are gone most of her life she receives a letter from an uncle she hardly knows. Her parents had died in Eygpt. She is determined to find out what happened to her parents.
This book has suspense, twists, and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. In a beautiful world that comes alive with the author's magic. 
The cliffhanger is KILLER, I can't wait for the next installment. Until then I have ordered Together We Burn by the same author.

The Mummy meets Death on the Nile in What the River Knows, Isabel Ibañez's lush, immersive historical fantasy set in Egypt and filled with adventure, a rivals-to-lovers romance, and a dangerous race.

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 a 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.

What the River Knows is the first book in the thrilling Secrets of the Nile duology.
Was this review helpful?
What The River Knows
By Isabel Ibanez
October 31, 2023
What the River Knows is a richly designed historical fiction story set in Egypt with an enemies to lovers trope. I can not stop raving about this book, it is so good. What the River Knows is a beautiful tale of Inez Olivera, a girl who seems to have it all, her world traveling parents. After the death of them, Inez is left with a fortune, a curious guardian and a partnership to an archeologist. Inez sails to Egypt to find answers to her mother and father's death. Upon arrival she finds a strong magic pulling her down a path of her parent's disappearance.  

I loved The Mummy movie and when that was in the description I knew that this book was for me and I was right! I can’t say too much about Death on the Nile because I don’t know that reference.
 Aside from Japan, my favorite setting to read from is Egypt, this one didn’t disappoint me. I loved the world. It was beautifully written. The writing seemed to just flow. The story was so entertaining from start to finish. The characters just seemed to come alive, they were so engaging. 

A huge thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for this advanced readers edition in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
This captivated me right from the start, with its descriptions of magic and Egypt and Inez's strong character, and while some of the pacing slips towards the end, I feel like I devoured it in an instant, and I can't wait to see what the next book brings. It's exciting, with twists and turns and discoveries that keep you on your toes, with magic and banter to add extra sparkle to the story.

It's so wonderful to see another angle to the Egypt-mania period, one outside of the European assumptions but very much aware and influenced by them. The multi-cultural setting of Cairo in the 1880s, but all still separated by class, is really brought to life here as Inez tries to find answers as well as her path forward. Her determination and cleverness gets plenty of chances to come to the forefront, and I kind of love everyone's eventual resignation of "yeah, she's supposed to go back to Buenos Aires, but we sure can't make her".

Some elements feel rushed, mostly the last third or so, especially in terms of how they're covering their tracks of discoveries, just what the magic has to do with everything (and what it will in the future; some things felt like we were moving on to a new target, but the Cleopatra arc still feels like a live thread?), and Elvira, but oh man, that ending. I'm in.
Was this review helpful?
How am I supposed to just go on living my life like this book didn't thoroughly traumatize me (in the best and greatest ways)?  I'll be thinking about this book regularly until the 2nd book comes out.  

Ok, now that I'm done being dramatic...I don't even know where to start with this book.  First off- I LOVED IT.  It was SO good.  Preorder it! Request from your libraries!  ADD TO TBRS IMMEDIATELY.  

From the first pages, I was enraptured by this book.  When I wasn't reading it I was thinking when I could make time to continue the story.  It's a feeling that so few books give me, so I was so excited to be reading a book that made me feel like that.

I loved Inez as our main character, she was so curious, determined, and clever.  I loved her interactions with everyone and especially her chemistry with Whit.  The banter??? Top notch.  The snark between these two even during dangerous situations was straight out of a movie, and I enjoyed every second of it.  

That ending????   This book isn't out yet and I'm already feral for book 2.  I'll definitely read more by this author, as I loved literally this entire book.
Was this review helpful?
This book didn’t have one page or line that lost my interest.

Best book I’ve read all year, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not really a mystery fan, but after reading this one I think I can say I’m a fan now. What an immense pleasure to read! It was utterly captivating, and consisted of mystery, suspense, deceit, high drama, and budding love and intense yearning. 

I’ve never been to Egypt in the 19th century, obviously, but I found myself perfectly able to imagine this book like a movie, scene by scene, because of Ibañez’s brilliant and atmospheric writing. I felt transported and along in this adventure from the descriptions of this place and time. And oh wow the characters! They were the most fleshed out and complex characters I’ve ever read, I could swear they were real. I loved the mix of magic elements and how they are woven in through the story. Even though this is labeled as YA, (which felt appropriate) it also felt mature and a perfectly enjoyable read for adults who don’t like to deal with immature characters and pointless angst. Everything about this book captivated me but I’m so upset I can’t keep reading this story, that ending GAH! I guess I’ll have to wait with immense suspense, because we have some big matters to clear up in the next book! Can’t wait!

**I received a complimentary ARC and all opinions expressed are my own.**
Was this review helpful?
This book was so good! It was such a fun, entertaining read!

The atmosphere of the book is fantastic. The Egyptian history, the archeological setting, the mysterious characters and motives, and the little touch of magic really brought the book to life. While I found the beginning of the book to be a bit slow, the story picks up and has a very engaging plot. I really enjoyed the twists and turns, the secrets and lies, and the magical objects. AND THAT ENDING! I

I had so much fun reading this book and I am really really looking forward to the sequel!
Was this review helpful?
What the River Knows by Isabel Ibanez is one of the most well written books, the story of a young woman seeking to find her family in the midst of insurmountable odds was very inspiring and fun to read about. I loved the witty dialogue and how the characters really came to life on the page which made the story really easy to follow. The writing was a beautiful mosaic of egyption mythology, magic, historical fiction, romance and adventure. I think its my favorite Isabel Ibanez book to date!

Thank you to St. Martins Press, Isabel Ibañez and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
At Tome Student Literacy Society, we have a list of language and content criteria for the books we select for our annual book award list, the It List.  Upon a language search in this book, we discovered that it did not meet our specific criteria for language.  Due to this, we elected not to finish this book for review purposes for our organization. We would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to review an e-book of this title.  
We selected a previous book by this author for our award list, so we are confident this is a wonderfully-written book, it just does not meet our profanity guidelines.
Was this review helpful?
What the River Knows follows Inez, a girl from Buenos Aires, as she sneaks away from her aunts care to Egypt in search for answers on her parents disappearance. There she meets her uncle Ricardo and his assistant Whitford Hayes. Her uncle immediately decides to send her back to Argentina but Inez has other plans. Through a series of sneaking Inez evades her uncles orders to go home and instead follows him to an excavation sight in Philea. It is in Philea that Inez will finally start to learn her answers about her parents. 

What the Rivers Knows was a charming story filled with adventure and a hint of magic. I adored Inez's ambition even if she did make some questionable choices at times. I was hooked from the first chapter. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fantasy or the moving The Mummy! I'm excited to read the next book and see what happens with Inez & Whit!
Was this review helpful?
This is my first Ibañez book, and it won't be my last. 

I'm a history major who is currently obsessed with fantasy and this book was everything. I loved that it centered on Egyptian mythology and was filled with mystery, magic, and suspense. 

The characters were great, the plot was interesting, and the ending has me chomping at the bit to read the next book. I enjoyed the banter between Inez and Whit, and I'm a sucker for enemies to lovers, so I can't wait to see what happens.

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for my eARC. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely adored this book. 

Brief synopsis: Inez Olivera, a young woman in Buenos Aires society who chafes against expectations of a woman of her status, finds out her parents have died mysteriously in Egypt where they spend half the year without her. She sneaks off to Cairo to confront her uncle, an archaeologist and her new guardian, and uncover the truth of what happened. 

Inez was everything - smart and stubborn and feisty and trying desperately to deal with her grief for beloved, absent parents while learning about their lives in Egypt. Whit is man with secrets and snark and can’t help but match wits with our girl Inez. 

The story leaves you unsure of who, if anyone, to trust as everyone seems to have secrets and ulterior motives. It made you ache for Inez, who wants desperately to understand and to be wanted. The slow burn romance is immaculate, driving you crazy as Inez and Whit circle each other. It made you feel like you were walking the streets of Cairo or along the banks of the Nile with the characters. It also doesn’t shy away from the impacts of colonialism on Egypt and the treatment of the country, the people and the history and artifacts of Egypt by the British in particular. 

And the ending. The ending wrecked me. The beginning and middle moved at a moderate pace, but the last probably 25-30% flew by. It made me scream and cry and yell HOW DARE YOU. The end of the book left me feeling fully unhinged and desperate for the sequel.

Thank you to Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press & Wednesday Books for this eARC!
Was this review helpful?
“I won’t let anything happen to you.”

I’ll be completely honest and say I was touch and go on this book in the middle but by the end it was a total winner. Looking back, I really loved it. 

The atmospheric description of Egypt and the Nile was maybe my favorite part? I felt transported to the other side of the world. My second favorite part was the sloooow burn of Inez and Whit’s relationship. It was giving rivals but then eventually “touch her a die”. I loved that I spent the whole book not knowing who to trust because it kept me on my toes, wanting to keep flipping pages. 

I have a love-hate relationship with cliffhangers and this one got me. When does book two come out?? Oh wait, this book isn’t even out yet.

My onlyyyyy complaint is that the snippets of Whit’s POV felt frustrating. I wanted a lot more of him or nothing at all. 

I don’t always preorder the arcs I read, but you bet I preordered this before I even finished. It was so dang enjoyable. 

You’ll love:
+ rivals to lovers
+ magic
+ historical fantasy (1880s)
+ Egypt & Cleopatra
+ adventure
+ mystery

Thank you to @netgalley, @stmartinspress, @wednesdaybooks and @isabelwriter09 for the e-arc of #WhatTheRiverKnows in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
‘What the River Knows’ by Isabel Ibañez is absolutely one of my top reads of the year! This book is just freaking phenomenal. Absolute perfection. With beautiful, vibrant prose, intriguing characters, mystery, adventure, deceit, magic, vivid, thrilling, immersive settings and a swoony romance full of banter and chemistry, this book just left me speechless and in love. The cliffhanger ending, that wild epilogue, they killed me in the best way, and I cannot wait for the next book. I can’t say it enough: READ THIS BOOK. I’d give it thousands of stars if I could. 😍

𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘯 𝘦𝘈𝘙𝘊 𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘣𝘺 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘨𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘳 (𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬-𝘺𝘰𝘶!). 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘱𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘷𝘰𝘭𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘸𝘯.
Was this review helpful?
I thought I would like this as I have been getting into magical realism lately but I just could not connect with the characters.   I found Inez to be whiny and annoying and immature for her age.  It just was not for me.
Was this review helpful?
This book was excellent! The pacing, characters and plot kept me hooked, the voice of the MC was funny and relatable. The romance/banter was to die for, I can’t believe that I have to wait for the second book now. Crying all the tears. 10/10
Was this review helpful?
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. When she receives word of the tragic death of her parents -who often left her behind- Inez inherits their massive fortune and a mysterious guardian. 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.

My Thoughts:
This story is The Mummy meets Death on the Nile. It features brief  flashbacks to the life of Cleopatra, magic, an archeological dig, a murder mystery, and romance. I liked the more whimsical story opening. I felt almost like I was reading the beginning of Cinderella, before we pivoted to the world of archeological excavation sites, bustling markets, and annoyance to lovers storylines.  The setting of Egypt has long been a fascinating one. We fight Nile crocodiles, colonialism, family betrayals, and battles of the heart and the mind. Our heroine has no idea who to trust, but boy does she want to be able to believe in our male lead. The pacing is perfect and the lead up to the sequel incredibly frustrating in the best way. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book. Our male lead has most of the charisma and frustrating appeal as Brendan Fraser, and our female lead the same glamour and feisty-ness of Rachel Weisz. So if you grew up in the late 90s like me, loving The Mummy franchise, this has some wonderful nostalgia. But it's also an entirely new story about family, coming into your own, exploration, love (familial and romantic), duty and preservation. I think this is a home run of a story.
Was this review helpful?
I chose to DNF around 25%. This he could take it out book had potential but I just couldn’t stay focused and it didn’t feel like it was authentic to the time period.
Was this review helpful?
Are you a fan of The Mummy? Of course you are. Did you own that massive gold and slightly gaudy copy of Egyptology as a kid? You most likely did. And do I have news for you. You’ll be obsessed and completely captivated by this book as it takes you on a wild ride all across Egypt. 

My mind is absolutely blown by this book. The storytelling captivated me from page one and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time not sure who to trust and what was going to happen next. It’s got a murder mystery, a nod to Cleopatra (as the badass she really was too), a magical element that ties to ancient artifacts and memories, a feisty and headstrong female main character you’ll adore, a morally gray man of mystery and unknown intentions for the male main character (as well as a couple of brief POV changes for him), archaeology digs, and the descriptive ambiance of Egyptian cities and markets that make you feel like you’re there yourself. It’ll take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and the cliffhanger will leave you desperate for more. It’s the type of book you’ll want to reread immediately as to go back and analyze each character interaction and see how all the pieces fall into place early on that you were initially unaware of. 

You can tell that the author put a lot of research into this book (regardless of the few liberties she did take) and that she’s mastered her writing and storytelling skills. Historical fantasy has found its place in my heart for sure now. I will certainly be thinking about this book for a long time and will be buying a physical copy for my collection as soon as possible.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a fun read! I truly felt like I was watching a new edition to The Mummy movie franchise while reading this book. And as a Gen X-er who grew up watching Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile almost weekly on TV,  there was some heavy nostalgia for me as well.

Action-packed, plot twists, swoon-worthy romance, cheeky banter, this book has it all. I felt early on that the plot was going to be predictable (only in the sense that I am a middle-aged woman who has decades of reading under her belt, unlike the YA audience this book is written for) and it was...until it wasn't. Let's just say the ending had me saying "WAIT WHAT" in the best possible way. I cannot wait for the sequel! 

I do want to address some other reviews that call Inez a "petulant child" for her constant dismissal of being told what to do by the adults in her life. Are we really still calling young women who go after what they want (and what they know is RIGHT) with courage and conviction petulant simply because they are ignoring the misogynist and archaic rules of society? Can we just not? 

Anyway (insert eye roll)

Highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
Such a great magical read! Completely immersive and well written, the author completely takes you into her world and through her magical ride. Mystery, magic, fantasy, a great spooky season read.
Was this review helpful?