I’m honestly ashamed of myself for not catching how messed up Woven in Moonlight was, but I really appreciate being called out for starting this book. I was blind to how racist this book is, and the fact that Written in Starlight is even worse than the first book, I’m glad I could avoid suffering through it. Immediately DNFed at 5%.
Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Genre: YA Fantasy
An adventerous South American Tomb Raider! This hotly anticipated companion to Woven in Moonlight follows an outcast Condesa, as she braves the jungle to forge an alliance with the lost city of gold.
If the jungle wants you, it will have you…
Catalina Quiroga is a Condesa without a country. She’s lost the Inkasisa throne, the loyalty of her people, and her best friend. Banished to the perilous Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows her chances of survival are slim, but that won’t stop her from trying to escape. It’s her duty to reclaim the throne.
When Manuel, the son of her former general, rescues Catalina from a jaguar, a plan forms. Deep in the jungle, the city of gold is hidden, home to the fierce Illari people, who she could strike an alliance with.
But the elusive Illari are fighting a battle of their own—a mysterious blight is corrupting the jungle, laying waste to everything they hold dear. As a seer, Catalina should be able to help, but her ability to read the future in the stars is as feeble as her survival instincts. While searching for the Illari, Catalina must reckon with her duty and her heart to find her true calling, which could be the key to stopping the corruption before it destroys the jungle completely.
I had requested this book initially unaware that it was a sequel. I got so excited when I found out I owned the first book due to a book box company and now had the sequel to read too. Reading through the first book though, I felt uneasy. While I was enthralled with the food and the discussion of culture, Ximena’s viewpoint was mean. It was clear that the Illustrians and Llacsans had been fighting over territory, but didn’t realize at first that it was based on the Spanish and Incas. I honestly feel stupid that I didn’t look into the backstory more, the only thing I knew was that it was “based off Bolivian history” and didn’t immediately put two and two together.
While I’m not as knowledgeable in South American/Central American history, I am quite aware of the upheaval and torment brought on by the Conquistadors. And the fact that the main character was based off of Spanish Colonizers just does not sit right with me.
Going into Written in Starlight, I was made aware of the problems in this book. I looked up reviews and was horrified. While I was a bit blind to the backstory of this book, it was very clear that the author is blatantly trying to “forgive” the sins of the Spanish. By placing them as the protagonists of the story, allowing them to “change” and clear their blame, and making the Indigenous based characters have to teach them is honestly sickening. And to read reviews that this book is not only worse in regards to the racist rhetoric, but also just a bad book, plain and simple, I have to DNF at 5%. I read one chapter and knew that Catalina’s story was going to follow a similar path to Ximena’s, so I’m glad I saved myself the trouble.
I will not be reading this book and I do not recommend picking up the first book, Woven in Moonlight.