A review by leahsbooks
Written in Starlight, by Isabel Ibañez

slow-paced

1.0

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily.

The cover is gorgeous. But the cover of Woven in Moonlight was also beautiful, and never has the old adage of "don't judge a book by it's cover" been more true.

I was hoping that this book would handle the issues of indigenous portrayal and colonialism better than the first book, but alas, it was ... WORSE?

While Ximena was at least a character that had some redeeming qualities, Catalina is stubborn, closed-minded, and convinced that she is completely right about everything. All. The. Time. And even as she is banished to the jungle, rather than trying to learn about the princess who has become queen, she decides that all of the Llascans are clearly monsters and can't possibly have any positive qualities, and realizes that the only viable option is to demand her birthright to the throne of Inkasisa. Even though a) her people don't even know that she is the condesa,, b) she has no allies, and c) she hasn't even bothered to see the situation clearly at all.

So she continues on her self-centered path, resulting in the first half of the book being extraordinarily boring, and incredibly unremarkable, other than Catalina consistently describing indigenous tribespeople and their religious beliefs/practices as "monstrous." I was shocked at the sheer amount of dehumanizing language and the colonial savior trope that was present throughout the story. There was so little action in the first half of the story that it was basically Catalina and Manuel just walking around in the jungle, with Catalina having herself a pity party.

I struggled to understand why there were always random Spanish words and phrases thrown into the story when they were speaking in Spanish all the time. There wasn't really any need to insert Spanish phrases to reinforce the Spanish-ness of the story, since the Spanish colonial influence was all throughout the story, especially in how they viewed the indigenous tribes as monstrous and in need of an Illustrian ruler (read: Colonial ruler) to lead them. The emphasis on finding the city in the jungle made of gold and going to any length to find it and make the people inhabiting that city do Catalina's bidding just smacked of conquistadors and left a bad taste in my mouth. And literally every time that I thought Catalina would have an epiphany and show some personal growth? Nope! Just kidding - she'd get soooo close and then continue to stick with her Spanish-speaking white savior mission. 

The ending was such a letdown. I was hoping that all of this boring fluff was going to build up to something ... anything ... but instead ... it just kind of petered out with a total letdown that didn't seem to flow with the rest of the story. 

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