Cover Image: What the River Knows

What the River Knows

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Member Reviews

An evocative story set against the backdrop of the exploration and exploitation of the Egyptian antiquities trade in the late 1800s. Headstrong Inez travels from Argentina to Egypt in a quest to find her parents who have disappeared and find herself entangled in a web of deceit and danger which challenges all she has believed to be true.  The ending is a cliffhanger which leaves as many questions as when her journey began.
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Missed the Point

I tried, but I just didn't care about the characters or the world... the two most important aspects of fantasy books for me. The main character is stubborn, not strong. She is impulsive, not dedicated. Her motivations are forgotten in scenes immediately following intense internal dialogs of exactly those motivations. The magic world building could have made up for those flaws. Except it's very surface level to the point that at one point I completely forgot there was magic. I could not push through, even for Netgalley. 

I received an eARC of this book for review from the St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.  

DNF at 65%
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What the River Knows is a historical fantasy based in Egypt.  It is a murder mystery steeped in knowledge of Ancient Egypt, with a touch of magic that is not really explained, and a little too much focus on romance.  

As far as immature MCs go, Inez is not the worst of them.  She has lived a very sheltered life, more or less abandoned and is desperate for love/acceptance.  Despite having no real world knowledge, she constantly believes what she is doing is for the best and rarely listens to any one else.  This, of course,  leads to one dire consequence after another... all the way up until our cliff hanger ending *whomp whomp*.

The world in which the story exists is amazing.  I absolutely loved how immersive it felt.  I saw someone say that this book felt like a love letter to Egypt and I whole heartedly agree.  It does get repetitive, however.  We're told the same stories about Cleopatra multiple times, as if the characters (who are supposed to be experts on the matter) have forgotten.  Aside from Inez and maybe Whit, most of characters feel surface level.  We don't get much insight into them and so their reactions to situations don't always feel appropriate. 

The romance is terrible, sorry to say.  Its a weird insta-love kinda forbidden romance and I think I would've enjoyed the story much more without it.  It needed a slower build, but I guess since Inez is an immature MC, it kind of fits. 

I will probably pick up the sequel when it comes out as the "who done it" part of the story was rather fun.  

Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the ARC.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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"What the River Knows" by Isabel Ibanez is a lush and captivating tale that weaves together elements of fantasy, romance, and mystery. The story follows a young woman named Luna, who is drawn to the mysterious River God, who may hold the key to her past. As Luna delves deeper into the river's secrets, she discovers a world of magic, danger, and long-held secrets. The world-building in this book is masterful, and the characters are compelling and nuanced. Ibanez's writing is lyrical and immersive, making the reader feel as if they are drifting along with the river's current. Overall, this is a beautifully written and enchanting novel that will appeal to fans of romantic fantasy and magical realism.
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“What the River Knows" is a captivating blend of history and fantasy, reminiscent of "The Mummy" and "Death on the Nile." Isabel Ibañez has crafted an immersive world that transports you straight into the heart of Egypt, wrapped in adventure and enigma.

The novel's strength lies in its sensory-rich descriptions that bring every scene to life. From the bustling streets of Cairo to the mysterious flow of the Nile, each setting is painted with such detail that you feel as if you're right there, witnessing the story unfold.

Character development is another area where Ibañez excels. The protagonists are deep and multifaceted, making their journey and evolving relationships genuinely compelling. The rivals-to-lovers romance adds a tantalizing layer to the narrative, balancing the thrill of adventure with the complexities of human emotion.

Perhaps the most striking element of this novel is the level of betrayal woven into the plot. It's crafted in such a way that it doesn't just surprise you; it leaves you reeling, questioning each character's motives and allegiances.

While "What the River Knows" treads familiar paths in historical fantasy, it does so with a fresh, exhilarating pace. It's a book for those who love their adventures wrapped in mystery, history, and a touch of romance. A must-read for fans of the genre. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Overall, I liked this book. It's probably my favorite of the Ibanez's books so far. I loved the tensions and the romance and I genuinely thought Inez and Whit were great characters. The setting was rich and atmospheric. There were scenes that I could truly see playing out in my head and that almost never happens to me! I know the author took a trip to Egypt and consulted several readers to check for historical accuracy and it shows! And the cliffhanger was wild — I'm definitely interested in reading book 2. 

There were a few things I didn't love, but I think some of that came down to expectations and how the book was marketed. When I saw comparisons to The Mummy, I expected a high-energy adventure story. The plot of this book, to me, progressed a bit slower than I would have liked. I also saw it marketed as a fantasy and the magic/ fantastical elements were minor. I kind of wish it would have played a larger role, but maybe it will in book 2. 

As I said, I loved Inez and Whit and found them compelling and well-fleshed out. Inez in particular feels incredibly relatable. However, I felt that several of the side characters, especially the more villainous ones, were rather one note. I also found myself frustrated with the pace at which the central mystery was unfolded. Nobody in this book was willing to tell anyone ANYTHING. 

But as I said, the ending certainly brought me back and I'm legitimately looking forward to book 2!
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What a wonderful and immersive read! 

I must admit, the pacing at the beginning had me worried that the book wouldn’t be my favorite. But the pace really picked up the second half and was well worth it!! I think this book is definitely worth a read and these are the reasons why. 

1.The world/writing is full of gorgeous details that make the book very atmospheric and immersive. 

2. Slow burn romance between MC and snarky British boy with a mysterious past. 

3. Strong willed female MC who does not wait for help or permission to fix the problems she faces. 

4. Archeology setting infused with magic.

Need I say more? Please go buy and read this book.
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This book had me the moment I found out that it was about Egypt. Definitely made me want to pick up the book, and it kept me engaged throughout, I liked that it was fast-paced, but it did end on a cliffhanger, which I didn't realize that this wasn't a standalone, so I was caught off guard.
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While this is considered a young adult book, it did not read that way. I would have appreciated more inclusion of ancient Egypt artifacts and information, especially with the length of the book. It was a good read, but longer than necessary.
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5 Stars


Once again. Isabel has crafted a swooningly romantic story full of fierce female leads who love their food and pretty dresses. and making boys blush. This story is full of action and magic and weaves historical fact with fantastical fiction. 

Inez has run away to Egypt from her life of opulence and luxury back in Buenos Aries, to find out what happened her parents, who have always run off to Egypt half of the year on these daring archeological adventures, leaving Inez behind. Upon arriving in Alexandria, she encounters the mysterious, yet handsome, handler that her uncle has tasked with getting Inez back on the next ship home to Argentina. In classic Isabel Ibanez style, our heroine runs off and thus starts the rivals-to-lovers plot set against the archeological sites of ancient Egypt, daring adventures along the Nile River, and high stakes life-or-death moments. I also love how Ibanez has thoughtfully laid out a plot around colonization of ancient cultures and theft of their artifacts.

Basically, if you loved The Mummy or Death on the Nile, pick this one up! I cannot wait for the second book and need it ASAP.
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booooooooooring and no true egyptian archeology or any drama reminiscent of the mummy. just no. and the plot twist? yawn. elvira…that was more shocking. on to the next…

thanks to wednesday books for an arc. my thoughts are my own.
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Rating: 2.5/5

Read it for the:
-Egyptian setting
-Latino representation  
-Mystery elements 
-Fun Banter 
-Plot twists 

Romance: Heavy kissing 
Trigger warning: Graphic Death, Violence, Strong language 

𝐌𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬:

With an intriguing plot, lush setting, and some interesting plot twists thrown in, What the River Knows is a book I could not put down. 

Foremost, I appreciated the Latino representation in this story. The Spanish dialogues, chapter headings, and most importantly the Spanish characters, were perfect.  Whenever Latino culture or the Spanish language was mentioned, it was done organically, I could relate. I loved to see it. 

I also enjoyed the characters themselves. Inez had a great spark to her from the beginning of the story, one that burned brighter whenever she shared the screen with the morally grey lead, Mr. Hayes. Their banter and chemistry were great, and the scenes where they were together were my favorite. I also loved a few of the side characters, like Inez’s Uncle. I'm looking forward to seeing the cast again in the next book. The plot itself was interesting - one the mystery surrounding the death of Inez’s parents, and the second a search for a lost Egyptian treasure. I wanted to see the second expanded on, but the mystery of Inez’s family and her determination to find answers kept me turning the pages, however, I struggled to be invested. 

This read was not without its flaws. There were so many parts that didn't make sense or frustrated me. One was that I did not care for the few magical elements added to the story. I  believe these could have been removed, and still, this would be a solid read.  There were a few mystery points I predicted. There was also the graphic death of a character that I felt was unnecessary- not only the death itself but the description of it. I do feel like the comparison to the movie, The Mummy, may not be entirely accurate. Both have their strengths, but I honestly felt this read to play out more like a Spanish telenovela, that was set in Egypt: Highly addicting, twisty, and dramatic. This being said: The plot twist in the end had me screaming. I will continue to book 2 because I need answers- and a little chaotic part of me likes the drama. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
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Oh how I wanted to love this book! The setting and overall plot had me intrigued and the promise of a Rick/Evelyn style romance had me downright excited! The first quarter of the book captured my attention with its Egyptian atmosphere and clever character depictions. Sadly the book began to feel like a slog for me somewhere  in the middle with the characters and plot stagnating. By the time the story started moving again I had all but lost interest.
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This book was fantastic. The perfect  mix of adventure, romance, and thrilling mystery. I need book two right now!
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I didn't realize this book was YA until I listed it as "Currently Reading" but that didn't lower my enjoyment at all! As someone who has always been interest in Ancient and Modern Egypt, I absolutely loved the setting of this novel. My favorite restaurant is Egyptian and it was really fun seeing all the foods I loved being talked about in such a positive light. The hunt for Cleopatra's tomb is something that I've been following very closely recently and it was cool seeing how much research the author needed to put into this novel. Every twist in this surprised me and I didn't see any of them coming, but at the same time, they didn't seem unplausible. My biggest complaint about this novel is that I really didn't want the love story line to be happening. I do understand why the love interest became the love interest, but I just wanted them to either remain friends or for the yearning to continue the entire time. I'm really looking forward to reading more from this series and this author in general and I'm already excited to re-read this novel in preparation to read the second book.
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✩ ✩ ✩ ✩ /5

I loved that this setting was so different than other fantasy books I’ve read lately. I felt like it was a fun, easy read and I enjoyed the world in it. I’m excited to read the next book and see where this story goes!

Thank you to the author & @netgalley for the ARC 💕
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What The River Knows is about Inez Olivera, a 19th century Argentinian girl, whose parents have been away studying Egypt for half of her life.  One day she receives a letter from Egypt where her uncle informs her that her parents have tragically died in the desert.  She immediately rushes to Egypt herself to search for answers to what happened to her parents.  This book was said to be like Death on the Nile meets the Mummy, and I think that is a spectacular and accurate comparison.  While this book takes place in 19th century Egypt and Argentina, there is a fantasy element where there is an old ancient magic that exists in the world.  I loved that even though this was a true fantasy, it felt more like magical realism because of how well the magic was incorporated into the existing world and history.  You could tell how deeply researched this book was too.  The amount of specific details that were included made the world vivid and beautiful and fully immerses the reader into the culture and history.  I loved Inez right away.   She was feisty, intelligent, and powerful, and she goes after what she wants, not taking no for an answer.  I admire her and aspire to be more like her.  Her uncle’s assistant, Mr. Hayes, was so hot, and their banter was top notch.  On top of all of that, this book was a wild and twisty ride!  The ending was jaw-droppingly insane and had me audibly gasping and screaming.  It also ends on a huge cliffhanger, so there better be another book coming!
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I was not a super fan of this..... 
sad because I really wanted to, it was slow and confusing. It may just be me but maybe this historical fantasy was just not for me. 
MMC and FMC seemed boring to me, there was no click between them. 
It took me forever to want to pick this back up. 

I recommend others to read, and maybe you'll have a different opinion and love it! 

Thank you Netgalley for an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Absolutely loved this book! Thank you for this ARC copy ..... this is a classic magical story. I was absolutely inspired and intrigued by the characters ans the storyline that is unlike any other. Isabel is a phenomenal storyteller that changes readers hearts and minds. #whattheriverknows #netgalley
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Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the ARC of this book!

I absolutely loved this book and it made The Mummy (1999) lover in me so happy. It's got action, adventure, romance, mystery and I will not stop recommending it.

The book starts with Inez setting off across the Pacific alone on a mission to find out what happened to her parents in Egypt. Her uncle tries to make her go back home, but Inez is determined to stay and learn more about the place where her parents spent more time than with her. There's a dose of magic mixed in as we learn about ancient Egypt and the hunt for Cleopatra's tomb. The banter and tension between Inez and Whit is so good, and is the closest thing to the Evie/Rick relationship from The Mummy that I've seen since. It left me with so many questions but I'm so excited to read the next book when it comes out (which I hope isn't too far away).
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