Book Review: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

About the Book:

Title: What the River Knows

Author: Isabel Ibañez

Page Length: 416

Publication Date: Nov. 14, 2023

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Synopsis: 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 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.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

I was so excited to read What the River Knows after reading and loving Together We Burn by the author last year. Ibañez is such a fantastic storyteller, and this mix of romance, adventure, and intrigue captivated me from the very first page.

The story follows Inez, a young woman from Argentina, who has recently learned that her parents died while in Egypt. Traveling to Egypt to meet her uncle, Inez is determined to discover what happened to her mother and father. I love Inez. She’s so determined and stubborn, and her love for her parents is as big as her personality. She is a force to be reckoned with, and though she isn’t as savvy as she thinks she is, she more than makes up for it in gumption, bravery, and devotion.

The story delves into interesting Egyptian history, especially in relation to Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, and her tomb. It was so fascinating, as was the world-building in general. Ibañez transports the reader to 19th-century Egypt, from the bustling city of Cairo to a long journey on the Nile to an expansive archeological dig in a remote region of the country. It’s all vividly presented and rich in detail.

As the story deals with Egyptologists and others who have invested interests in unearthing rare artifacts, themes about the effects of colonialism and the theft of culturally important artifacts are strong and become major points of contention for a variety of characters. These themes, as well as themes of identity, truth, and honor, are subtly woven throughout the story as Inez becomes more and more immersed in the dangerous mystery of her parents’ deaths.

In Egypt, Inez is often accompanied by Whit, a young British man who works for her uncle. I adored Whit! Like Inez, he is a layered and complex character, and there’s an air of mystery about him that makes him all the more appealing. And the romance!! It is a slow-burning, forbidden romance with humor, tons of sexual tension, and some super swoon-worthy scenes! The banter between the pair is perfection, though their relationship is riddled with obstacles. I loved them together, and though their romance wasn’t the main focus of the story, it was a definite highlight for me.

I thought this was a fantastic read. It’s exciting and suspenseful, and the magical elements are as intriguing as the mystery. With richly developed world-building and characterization and brilliant storytelling, it is gripping and thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable. And that ending? I have no words because I AM STILL SPEECHLESS! I need the next book ASAP!

Special thanks to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The adventure.
  • The intrigue!


  • slow burn romance
  • forbidden romance

5 thoughts on “Book Review: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

  1. I am so behind on arcs and have this one to read. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it because that means I should too! Great review.

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