Isabel Ibañez’s Written in Starlight is a powerful story of lost privilege and a fight to uncover personal strength.
Catalina is the rightful heiress to the Inkasisa throne, but she has been disgraced, overthrown, and sentenced to death by the Llacsan people. No one doubts Catalina’s certain demise when she is abandoned in the Yanu jungle, not even Catalina. For Yanu is no ordinary jungle. It is filled with shapeshifters, stealthy caiman, skin-singeing plants, deadly waterways, and poisonous insects, all described in a meticulous manner that makes the jungle vibrant.
After a near miss with a ferocious animal, Catalina wakes from the trauma to find that Manuel, an old friend whom she hasn’t seen in years, has come to her rescue. Though Manuel is keen to help her escape Yanu, Catalina has other ideas. Bent on redeeming herself in the eyes of her people and reclaiming her throne, Catalina decides to tread deeper into the Yanu jungle to locate the enigmatic Illari people, whose land was also stolen by the Llacsan. But the reluctant Illari face a battle of their own: their jungle is dying of a mysterious plague, and they will force answers from whomever can provide them.
Within the story, instances of death and graphic violence are tempered by playful banter. Catalina’s concern for her hair as she is escorted into the deadly jungle, and her yearning to touch an unfamiliar plant moments after being burned, make it difficult to imagine her taking charge. But in the course of her mission, she grows stronger and more knowledgeable.
Packed with growing pains, adventure, and self-realization, Written in Starlight is an important, entertaining tale about community and resistance.
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