Cover Image: What the River Knows

What the River Knows

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Member Reviews

This was INCREDIBLE! Gorgeous prose, vivid descriptions, exciting story, and characters you really root for. Add in a jaw-dropping, heart-shattering ending and I am truly in love. The worst part is how long I'll have to wait for Book 2. Highly, highly recommend.
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I enjoyed the unique setting of the story and The Mummy comp rang true. I did find the magical elements sometimes randomly mentioned instead of woven in which made the world building a bit odd. Overall, an enjoyable read.
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*Received an eARC from Netgalley for an honest review. Thank you!

This was a weird experience for me because the premise was captivating, and there were parts that were intriguing enough, but I might have more criticisms than positive commentary. 

Firstly, I'd like to mention this seems to be meant as series. (Duology?) I came into this thinking it was a standalone. As a first book to a series, I think it felt whole and was engaging for the most part. 

My interest was certainly piqued at the mention of the setting being in Egypt. I don't think we find many young adult fantasy novels within this region, even with its lush history and mythology. And given that this is set after the British's invasion and subsequent occupation of other Western countries, it's clear from the get-go that the political and cultural strife plays a huge role in the story with regards to its nefarious characters. However, I feel like this book was lacking proper worldbuilding and I didn't experience the true wonders of Egypt. This was an easy read, for sure, but I think the fantastical elements got lost in the simple, very straightforward prose. And where the author seemed to want me to read between the lines, or pick up on trailing thoughts, the impact got lost or it didn't make sense to me. 

The pacing was also weird. It's certainly slow for ~80% of the book, which I honestly didn't mind too much. I have the patience for it, as long as there's something else to keep my attention, like character interactions. However, by the time we get to the the last 1/5 ish of the book, it decided to jump to 100 and continue accelerating. All of a sudden, there are ACTUAL high stakes, huge consequences, people die etc. 

Spoiler because I need to get this off my mind..
Elvira's death honestly shook me...but after I recovered... WHY? It felt like it was included solely for shock value and now we're introducing the high stakes because we didn't know how to properly introduce them in the first 80% of the book. And of course, the protagonist has the strongest plot armor of all time because she's made countless, reckless mistakes in a foreign country that is experiencing a lot of political tension and somehow made it out unscathed until her cousin pays the price for doing the same thing. 

Character wise, I think I liked everyone in the first half of the book more than the latter half. Inez was a nice balance of persistent when she needed to be and was believably naive, but then she started making more questionable decisions even after learning of all of this deceit surrounding her family. Another character literally tells her to stop trusting people too easily and she still does it anyway. <spoiler> The uncle really could have quit lying and it would have been more productive. And Inez still continuing to trust her mom while ignoring her uncle's continued efforts help keep her safe was incredibly frustrating. </spoiler> 

As for the felt very forcefully inserted. I like Inez and Whit's (hah) banter, but as it became more flirtatious, I wasn't feeling it. It felt rushed or done at improper times. 

Also, if you're looking for a proper magic system, it is not really established at all in this book. There are certainly hints towards it playing a bigger role in the sequel, but if you're mostly here for the magical aspect, you won't find much of it in this first installment. 

Overall, this book was okay and I am honestly still interested in reading the sequel to know what follows with the cliffhanger. I hope the author considers touching on the weaker points and things that were lacking. It's still a pretty solid start to a series.
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Are you looking for the perfect Egypt adventure book? Because look no further—this book will draw you in with its dark secrets, rich 1880s Egyptian culture, and a tense and passionate romance. 

The book caught my attention right away with Inez rushing headfirst into adventure to find out what really happened to her parents, and I love how independent she is. I'm impressed with her quick wit, bravery, and her passion for following her heart. And I absolutely love her romance with Whit. Their banter was a joy to read, and the push and pull of their romance is incredibly done. So many swoony moments!

What I really like about this book is how immersed I feel when I read it. I'm right with the characters as they sail down the Nile, dig in excavation sites, and experience the chaos of Cairo. I feel the characters' shock when secrets are discovered, and I feel their horror as the plot thickens. 

I enjoyed reading this book, though something was still missing for me to give it five stars (perhaps I was expecting to be more drawn to it; it was hard for me to pick up and start reading each time). But I'd still highly recommend!

Writing Aesthetic/Style: 4
Plot/Movement: 4
Character Development: 5
Overall: 4

Thank you, Wednesday Books and NetGalley, for the arc!
Release Date: October 31, 2023  

Trigger/Content Warnings: kissing/make outs, gun violence and death, parent abandonment, fighting violence, kidnapping
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This book was a treasure from start to finish. I was transfixed from the first chapter and by the end further captivated. Our cast of characters has depth and our setting life! Highly recommend.
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Inez Olivera is a 19 year old who lives with her aunt and 2 cousins. Her parents work as archaeologists 6 months out of ever year in Egypt. She longed to join but they never allowed her to. She gets a letter informing her that they have passed, which makes her set out on a long journey to Cairo to hopefully gain some answers and closure regarding the death of her parents. She is met by her mysterious uncle’s (and new guardian) assistant, Whitford Hayes. He is there to send her right back, but she refuses and makes her own way through Egypt. This book was such a journey, literally and figuratively. Every page kept my attention and I kept needing to know more— will she find the truth? Will she end up with Whit? WHO can she trust?! Did she get herself in to deep?

Inez is a very tenacious, strong, curious, and determined young woman. I admired everything about her! Whit is a very brooding, secretive, and strong willed man, but is the type to drop everything to protect Inez even if that means showing more of himself than he prefers. These two kept me so entertained!! I loved the banter between the two and I always love a good enemies to lovers trope 👏🏻 

This book read like a movie. So incredibly descriptive!! Sometimes I have a hard time visualizing what I’m reading but that was not the case here. This book has it all— Egyptian mythology, magic, secrets, love, deception, forbidden romance, top notch banter, treasure hunting, and so much more. The mix of fantasy and history was *chefs kiss*. PURE PERFECTION!!

Can we talk about that ending?! HOLY CLIFFHANGER. I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ll just be here not so patiently waiting for the sequel. Seriously, go add to your TBR right now. I promise you’ll want to read this!!

A HUGE thank you to Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Isabel Ibañez for this incredible ARC 🫶🏻
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I received an e-arc through Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

In this book you will find: bodyguard trope, cleopatra mythology, objects have random magic, graphic description of a characters death, enemies to friends to lovers, betrayal, plucky heroine, morally gray love interest, interesting side characters, and a girl fighting patriarchal values. 

I was foaming at the mouth for this book as soon as I heard it was similar to the 1999 version of the Mummy (starring Brendan Fraiser and Rachel Weisz), and boy did I get the vibes. It isn’t a carbon copy of the movie, in fact the main points that are similar is being in Egypt, the bodyguard trope, and there being some magic and flashbacks but there is no mummy in the traditional sense, there definitely is mommy issues.

As a whole the plot follows a young woman who just wants to follow her missing, presumed dead parents, into the place they loved most Egypt. Along the way she finds out she is the key to finding the tomb of Cleopatra and protect it from everyone, including the people closest to her. 

What impressed me the most from the book is the tonal shift from the beginning to end of innocence and overly trusting to a darker sense of reality and saying goodbye to the innocence she knew. While I could see a couple of the major plot points and twists from a mile away, the last couple of chapters and especially the last chapter blew me away! It makes me so excited for the sequel, and I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can make all my friends read it and discuss our thoughts!
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Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC copy of this book. All of these comments are my own! 

This book follows Inez, a girl who got the terrible news that her parents were killed. So, she sets out to find her uncle who is now in charge of her, to figure out how her parents died. 

Along this journey, Inez learns of old  Egyptian magic and secrets. She soon finds herself having to solve a mystery that she wasn’t expecting. Along side her is Whit, who is working for her uncle. Sparks are flying but what’s holding them back? Inez soon realizes that she really can’t trust anyone, family or friends. 

I loved this book. It was so intriguing. I haven’t read many Egyptian tales/ history type novels but this book is making me want to read more. This book has magic, mystery, a little romance, secrets, lies and betrayal, adventure, and just so much history. I had an absolute blast reading this. I seriously had to make myself put it down, so I could savor it. 

The cliffhanger has me a bit upset though. I’m rooting for a certain someone and I just don’t want them to end up being a “villain”. Unless they redeem themself then I would be okay lol. I’m excited to see where this series is going to go because this first book was amazing and I feel like a lot of people are going to love this one. 

4 stars!
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This book was phenomenal. I read it so quickly because I couldn’t put it down! I loved the main character and how strong she was, traveling overseas herself and finding herself on her journey to walk in her parents path.
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What drew me to this book was for sure the inclusion of the setting being in Egypt. It’s for sure a glorious place to set this story and who doesn’t love an enemies to lovers romance as well. Bonus!
One of the main things I like about this book for sure is the way it’s written. It sucks you with intrigue and flows naturally like a fast paced fiver. Also for sure the main character Iñez for sure is a very fun character to read. She’s fiery, determined, head strong, sarcastic and follows the beat of her own drum.  And can i say, I am for sure, a sucker for an enemies to lovers romance, and this one for sure, as one of the most intriguing ones. 
It’s just super fun to see him, be astounded by the things she does. Because she does the opposite of what he thinks, and you can tell that it draws him to her.
Overall this book was enthralling, adventurous and swoon worthy at times. I throughly enjoyed this books.  

Thanks to NetGalley for a ARC of this book, for a honest review.
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Promising premise, disappointing delivery...

I was so excited when I read the description of this novel and was sure it would be a five star read for me. But alas, it was not to be. I guess because it's marketed as a young adult book I thought the language would be fitting with that so I was surprised by some of the content. 

It wasn't for me, but I'm sure others will love the story!
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Book title: What the River Knows
Author: Isabel Ibanez
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 1/2
Publication date: October 31st, 2023 

 This book takes place in Egypt in the late 1800's, think the Mummy movies setting. Inez Olivero lives in Argentina and has learned that her parents, who she only sees 6 months out of the year due to their obsession with Egypt, have mysteriously died. She travels secretly to Egypt to see her uncle, who is an archeologist that worked with her parents, to find out more of the truth of her parents demise. When she gets there she realizes that her uncle wants to shut her out and has nothing to do with her. He leaves her in the care of Whit Hayes, his employee and all around go to guy. Whit and Inez start out in a love/hate relationship with him being forced to be her babysitter and her not needing one. She refuses to leave until she gets to the bottom of her parents, uncle, and their life in Egypt. The amount of betrayal, heartbreak, mystery, slow burn romance, historical worldbuilding in a cool Egyptian setting with a book hangover worthy cliffhanger had me hooked! 
This book had so many twists and turns I feel like I have whiplash! Some things I saw coming but others I had no clue. My only complaint about his book is the beginning. I felt like it took a lot of the book to really get into the story and action, but once it did HANG ON! It was a rollercoaster the rest of the way! Whit and Inez are some of my new favorite MC's! I have no doubt the rest of this series will be absolutely amazing and I can't wait for more!
Thank you to NetGalley, Isabel Ibanez, and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I received a free E-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my full, honest review of this YA fantasy with romance!

I’m not sure why I put off reading this for so long— I believe the idea of reading Egyptian fantasy intimated me because it was something I was very unfamiliar with. However, Ibañez writes this compelling story in such a way that the world building is so easily tangible. Her writing is beautiful as well, it makes me want to go back and see whatever else she was written!

I am undone by each character in this book. Grown to love each of their qualities, and honestly, this is some of the best romance I have read in a fantasy book. It’s hard to come by because so much of what you read now is corny and predictable, but this blew me away. Truly.

Of course, I need a book 2 immediately. What kind of build up and cliffhanger was that?! Unprompted 😭💔 But since I am reading and reviewing this story MONTHS BEFORE it comes out, I foresee me having to wait quite a while to have all the answers!

Pinterest board inspiration!!!
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First off, thank you as always to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for allowing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Have you ever wondered what The Mummy movie and Death on the Nile would read like in book format? Look no further!!

The story follows a young woman named Inez as she travels from the safety of Buenos Aires, where she has spent all of her life, to the wild deserts of Egypt after the sudden death of her parents. Soon after landing in Cairo however, Inez learns that not everything is as it seems when it comes to her parents mysterious deaths. With the help of a young Whit (Mr. Hayes), Inez learns that in a world of hieroglyphs and sands, that not everyone is who they say they are.

As soon as I got drawn into the world of Egypt, and the life of both Inez and Whit (Mr. Hayes), I could not tear myself away. The Egyptian mythology and lore, and the scents and sounds of Egypt/The Nile pulled me in immediately. The flavors of this book are so incredibly bold and refreshing, and now I’m upset that I have to wait for book two!

Lord help me while I wait for part two of Inez and Whit’s story with an ending like THAT!
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Characters: 9, Inez was a fantastic MC- emotionally mature and confident, mischievous, but deeply trusting and realistically naïve. Whit, Tio Ricardo, Abdullah, even Kareem were all developed and believable characters. I was curious and compelled to see where all of their stories would go, and the ending has left me with more questions than answers. The aspect of grief (and stress) was handled really well and realistically, especially given South American cultures and what I know of grief and family in them.

Atmosphere: 9, Can we take a moment to appreciate the absolute gorgeousness of this cover? The setting is 1880s Egypt, and even though this is an historical fantasy it leans heavily into historical fact, namely that of Britain bombing and then colonizing Egypt and causing lasting damage to the culture, archeology, and history of the region. Though the setting is Victorian, it takes places in Egypt, and the juxtaposition of Egyptian culture and British/Argentinian culture (especially expectations for unwed women in that era) was lovingly played with. Rather than hide behind pat 'manners and expectations' plot tropes, given the era, the narrative dives right into the meat of the story, its mystery and danger. I felt the emotional drives, the described beauty of the Nile, and even the vitality of the food described within it.

Writing: 9, The writing was crisp with an excellent balance between description, inner monologue, and external dialogue. Emotions were telegraphed without any mind-reading by the MC, and there were moments where both the MC and the readers were unraveling the mystery together. The pacing was good, the word choice was fresh and expressive, and it flowed very naturally while I was reading.

Plot: 10, What a ride this was! Some things were expected, such as the pushback Inez got from everyone after she arrived in Egypt and decided she'd insert herself into the dig, or the development of the romance between Inez and Whit (which was also delicious and its tension). But after the 75% mark, it was a wild ride of surprises for me. Even after I thought all the surprises and reveals were over, and we were in the dénouement, the author hit me with more. I was so shocked that I immediately researched when the sequel will be out (because I am reading that one, hell or high water, ASAP).

Intrigue: 10, see above. Plus, the Egyptology aspect was so lovely, it inspired me to do research, to make an Egyptian dish for my friends, to re-watch The Mummy (for the vibes), and to add the author's other works to my TBR list.

Logic: 9, I really liked the world building and the marrying of magic with history in this. The fact that magic is an artifact of the past, not a current practice, led a delightful depth to the atmosphere and plausibility to otherwise difficult plot corners. The characters acted in accordance with their motives, both known and later revealed, as well.

Enjoyment: 10, I really loved reading this and I can't wait to continue the duology.

*I received a copy of this as an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my review.
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A nice addition to the young adult genre. Historical fiction is not often at in Egypt and it was a delight to read. I'm not sure how I felt about the ending.
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What the River Knows is a gripping tale following a young Argentinian women through her journey to Egypt in 1884 following the news of her parents’ death. With hopes to uncover the truth of what really happened, Inez finds herself not knowing who to trust.

Ibañez expertly wove Egyptian history and magic, making for an informative but fun read that I devoured in three days. I especially loved the snarky love interest. (The best kind of love interests, in my opinion.)

The book had a beautiful mix of being plot-driven and character-driven through a lot of action and dialogue. The story itself is so beautiful so I supposed I expected some more flowery or poetic language to strengthen the feelings the author communicated in each scene.

Overall, I loved this book and I am already anticipating the sequel!
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I had a somewhat hard time getting into this book initially. It was a little slow at the beginning as relationships between Inez and all the other characters in the book and the world itself were established. However, it did eventually draw me in and I enjoyed it overall. The many plot twists and Inez's growth throughout make it an enjoyable book. I hope that there's a sequel!
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I have never read anything like this before! The historical fantasy had me intrigued from the beginning-magic, adventure, romance in Egypt.
It’s rivals-to-lovers and I laughed out loud at their bickering and fell hard for their love story. 
Inez heads to Cairo searching for answers about her parent’s deaths. Her dad had sent her a ring with old-world magic and she wants to find out why. Whit is tasked to get her back to Buenos Aires and her stubbornness to follow him was entertaining. 
Definitely a top read this year for me!
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This book was such a good read! Something different from what I normally read but now I want to read more historical fiction and I want to learn more about Cleopatra. I enjoyed that the love interest wasn’t the main plot line but instead Inez was determined to find out what happened to her parents in Egypt. Such a great story but I want to know what happens next!!
Thank you Net Galley for letting me read this before it’s release.
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