What The River Knows: Summary & Ending Explained

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What The River Knows by Isabel Ibanez was my first read of the year and I was so glad that I decided to pick it up.

Ever since I found out that this book was set in Egypt and revolved around its history and mythology, I was desperate to get my hands on it as i’ve always loved learning about the pharoahs, gods and goddesses.

what the river knows summary and ending explained

What The River Knows follows a young girl named Inez who travels solo from Argentina to Egypt to investigate the mysterious death of her parents.

In this guide to What The River Knows, you’ll learn the summary, ending explained and my thoughts on the book.

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Caution: What The River Knows spoilers ahead (summary & ending explained section) Please only proceed as you wish.

What The River Knows Summary (Spoilers)

Inez Olivera, a 19-year-old Argentinian girl is upset that her parents are always visiting Egypt without her. Sometimes, they’re gone for months, which makes her resentful as they’ve never once took her. Her parents were always fascinated with ancient Egypt for as long as she could remember. All she has is an Egyptian ring her father gifted to her.

One day, instead of getting a letter from her parents in Cairo, she receives a letter from her uncle, Tio Ricardo, who has been in Egypt for years with her parents. In the letter, he explains that her parents are dead and he is now her legal guardian.

Inez is shocked and is suspicious of the sudden death of her parents. Without hesitating, she boards a ship as a widow to Alexandria from Argentina in hopes of unravelling the mysterious death of her parents.

When she arrives Alexandria port, she’s annoyed that Tio Ricardo didn’t even bother to pick her up from the port. Instead, he sent his assistant, Mr. Whitford Hayes to deal with her. Whit tells her that she needs to get back on the first ship that makes its way to Argentina.

Inez, being as stubborn as she is, refuses and runs away from to board a train to Cairo. On the train she learns from a stranger (Mr. Sterling) in her cabin that the ring on her finger is an ancient Egyptian ring that belongs to the last pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra.

Cleopatra is known for practicing magic and some of the magic from her ring has transferred to Inez, making her able to see Cleopatra’s sacred memories. The strange man steals her ring and refuses to give it back to her.

Devastated, Inez makes her way to Shepheard’s hotel, knowing that her search should start there as it the hotel her parents always stayed at when visiting Egypt. Thankfully, she gets to stay for free in her parents’ suite as it has already been paid for.

At the suite, she finds a letter from her mother addressed to the head of Antiquities Service, stating that Ricardo has become involved with disreputable individuals associated with illegal activities in Cairo. She now has a reason to suspect her uncle for her parents’ death.

During a dinner at the hotel, she meets Tio Ricardo and he is determined to send her back to Argentina the next day as this is no place for a proper young lady to be (especially because she’s unmarried and has no chaperone).

She tries to convince him to let her stay by telling him about the magical ring that is now lost. However, Ricardo still stands by his decision.

Inez finds out that Tio Ricardo and his team will be boarding a boat called the Elphantine and it’s her only way to get closer the truth of her parent’s death.

She ditches her chaperone and disguises herself as a servant on the ship and stays out of sight until they reach their destination. However, her plan to stay out of sight fails when she falls into the Nile river, where Whit saves her from a hungry crocodile.

Tio Ricardo is furious but Whit takes Inez’s side and persuades Ricardo to let her stay. Plus, her sketching skills might come into good use when finding temples and artefacts.

While being on board, Inez finds her mother’s journal in Ricardo’s room. She read an entry explaining that her mother feared for their lives and that Ricardo is a murderer.

Soon, Whit reports to Ricardo that Mr. Sterling is going after Cleopatra’s mummy because he believes it holds magic, as the former Pharaoh is said to have been adept at magic. Ricardo tells Whit that their team must find her tomb first. This is where Inez comes to play, she will have to help them sense if her tomb is at the excavation site.

Finally, they’ve reached is Island of Philae where everyone made themselves comfortable at the campsite. On one of the nights, Inez confesses she is starting to have feelings for Whit and they share a kiss. However, Whit tells her that he is bethroted and has someone waiting for him back home.

On the same night, Inez had a visitor in her room. To her shock, it was her mother, Lourdes. She learns that her mother is alive and her father is no more.

Lourdes explains to Inez that Ricardo has involved himself with an illegal smuggling trade of Egyptian artifacts. If he finds Cleopatra’s tomb, he will trade the artifacts for a rich sum of money. She asks Inez to play along and don’t let him suspect that she knows the truth.

Soon, Inez and Whit finds the treasury, a room before the burial chamber. Abdullah and Ricardo joins them shortly and eventually they find Cleopatra’s tomb. Inez is disappointed that she led her uncle straight to the tomb.

When her mother visits her again and tells her to use a magic scarf to shrink as many prized artifacts as she can, she does so and brings them back to her. One night, Inez meets her mother and a stranger by the river. She hands over the artifacts and is planning to run away with them.

However, her mother loses her purse and Inez tries searching nearby to find it. Soon, she realizes that her mother has deceived her and the boat was no where near to be found.

Inez tells Whit everything that happened only to find out that her mother is the one smuggling artifacts for trade and not Ricardo. She must have planted the letter to make Ricardo look like a criminal. Things take a turn when Inez get’s a letter from her aunt back home saying that her cousin Elvira has gone missing.

Inez feels defeated, she starts to blame herself for Elvira going missing. She decides to leave the excavation and go back to Cairo and soon to Argentina. Whit also receives a letter from his father saying that it is time he comes home as he has responsibilities back home.

At Cairo, Inez finds Elvira at the hotel she previously stayed at. Elvira hands Inez a letter from her father, saying to never give up looking for him and that he sent her the gold ring because he doesn’t trust her mother. They decide to attend a new year ball at the hotel where Whit reveals that his full name is Lord Whitford Hayes.

This What The River Knows summary serves as a refresher for the upcoming sequel, Where The Library Hides. There are a lot more things that happen in the book which builds up the romance between Inez and Whit as well as the mystery of Inez’s parents death.

What The River Knows Ending Explained

At the end of What The River Knows, Elvira gets kidnapped by dangerous people who are involved with Inez’s mother. Inez and Whit search for Elvira but get themselves kidnapped as well. Inez still believes her mother will turn herself in to save her. Instead, Ricardo comes to their rescue.

The three of them manage to escape. However, Elvira gets shot and dies in the process. At the very end, Inez is consumed by grief and decides to stay in Egypt to get to the bottom of this mess.

Ricardo tells her to go home because it’s not safe and she has no money despite being an heiress. Until she gets married, her money is Ricardo’s as he is her legal guardian. Inez tells Whit that she has no money until she weds. With that being said, Whit asks her to marry him.

What The River Knows ends on a cliffhanger. We learn that Whit has written a short letter to a mysterious someone saying “Inez fell for it.”

Is What The River Knows A Duology?

Yes, What The River Knows is a duology series that’s titled Secrets of the Nile. What The River Knows book 2 is titled Where The Library Hides.

What The River Knows Sequel Release Date

Where The Library Hides is the sequel to What The River Knows and it will be published on 12th November 2024.

What The River Knows Special Editions

There are a three special editions of What The River Knows; Barnes & Noble Edition, FairyLoot Edition & OwlCrate Edition.

My Review: What The River Knows

Should You Read What The River Knows?

Yes! It’s an absolute YES for me. I will recommend this book to anyone who loves learning about Egypt history and mythology and wish they would get to read it more often in fantasy books.

Read What The River Knows duology Now!

I hope this guide to What The River Knows will help you recall important details for your reread or when you plan to read the sequel!

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