Book Review: WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT by Isabel Ibañez

Title in cursive white on light teal with stars
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book/companion

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT*

Synopsis:

Book cover for WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT

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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT starts where WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT ends, following exiled and failed condesa Catalina as she heads into the jungle in search allies because she won’t give up her fight that quickly, believing herself to be the rightful queen still.

I do like it when nature is the enemy, and that’s what we have in this book. There’s no reasoning with nature. It doesn’t care that it’s killing being and it can’t be talked into a truce. It just has to be survived, and Catalina (and Manuel) have a lot to survive. There are caiman-infested rivers, jaguars, all manner of poisonous creepy-crawlies and also deadly plants.

There’s been a lot of talk around whether WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT and WRITTEN IN STARLIGHT are good rep or not, around how it deals with colonisation and the indigenous peoples of Bolivia. Both leads are girls who start off with very black-and-white views of the world, but learn nuance. My advice is to read the reviews on Goodreads that explain it (pretty near the top of the review pages.)

The thing that made me a bit uneasy in this book was how Catalina could reasonably be argued to be a “saviour” figure. She basically ends up saving them all as a divine vessel. It’s the Illari who are in danger (if Catalina and Manuel weren’t there, the danger would be the same) but it’s Catalina who gets the vision and the extra magic, even though it’s the Illari who taught her that she had the religion a bit muddled.

The ending was a little confusing for me. It felt like it took the existing magic system of the two books and then overrode it because the characters needed to get out of a tricky spot, and somehow getting Catalina extra magic powers was the way to do it.

Overall, though, it was an enjoyable read. I really liked the setting and the books are nicely written such that it’s a fun read. I will be picking up the author’s next book later on this year.


Read my reviews of other books by Isabel Ibañez:

Woven in Moonlight (this series):

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