Santa Muerte Book Review

Author: Lucina Stone

Publisher: Story Merchant


THE YEAR IS 2030. IN A DRAMATIC, final attempt to free her inner demons, twenty-year-old Daniela Delgado tempts fate and winds up on a strange farm in 1923. With an olive complexion due to her Mexican/Italian heritage and a fresh pixie cut, she is mistaken for a “boy of color.” Her only shot at survival now is to play it cool, pose as “Danny,” and figure out how to get back home to her two, loving moms. And then she meets Daphne—an abused, motherless farm girl in desperate need of freedom and a friend. Having escaped Daphne’s father, the two of them are now roaming the streets of New York City disguised as a young aristocrat and her male servant. They’re running out of money, and ideas. And Daniela thought living in 2030 was tough. But her solar powered smart phone works. And there’s someone within range. She pings them. A selfie of an attractive male comes in with the text: I’m Lain. Who the f— are you? Even in that moment, Daniela knows this can’t be safe, but what are her choices? They meet Lain at a speakeasy on the Lower East Side. When Daniela reveals her last name, Lain says the only Delgado he knows is Anaya—the head of the Santa Muerte Coven of witches in Merida, Mexico. And then he hints that Daniela is a liar, even though she rocks a man’s three-piece suit like no woman he’s ever met. And as for her tattoos? Don’t get Lain started…. Despite the intrigue, Daniela adds Lain to the list of folks Daphne and she must outrun to stay alive. But as they plan their trip to Mexico, they soon discover that list is much longer than they thought. And they uncover a few other things, too, about Daniela’s true identity….

Rating: ⭐️

I won’t even bother with a pros and cons list on this one since it would be almost entirely cons.

I DNF’d this about 28% through because this story is so poorly written and one of the most problematic books I’ve ever read in that it manages to be racist, biphobic, ableist, rape apologizing, transphobic, and misogynistic all in the first quarter of the book.

Bear with me on this review because it’s a wild ride.

First, the writing:

The exposition is super stiff and summary like. I feel like I’m being handed a guide manual to navigate the rest of the book with.

The story is in third person but it goes from limited to omniscient quickly jumping from Daniela’s thoughts to other characters’ without rhyme or reason other than the author felt like it.

The writing has no concept of past perfect tense and therefore seemingly makes messy time jumps. She just arrived in New York, then we’re talking about she’s been in bed for days, which took place two days ago. The writing is messy and makes it difficult to follow which character perspective we’re navigating the world through and exactly what timeline we should be following.

At the start of the story, Daniela’s phone is dead so that people won’t believe she’s from the future, but when she needs it to get out of a depressive slump, it’s suddenly fully charged. She says that she has no access to the Internet, but she pulls up a map of the city in 1923. Are we supposed to believe she already had that saved on her phone or is this just the exception to the no internet rule?

Tl;Dr: the writing is stiff, the characters generic, there are too many inconsistencies to count, way more telling that showing, and next to no setting established.

The problematicness:

Biphobia – We have a girl who was forced into having sex with this guy by her mother even though she’s in love with a girl. She’s doing it out of obligation, however, as the activity starts, she finds herself kinda attracted to him and thinks the whole thing is fun. Here we have a clear perpetuation of the “bi people are whores who don’t know what they want” stereotype.

Really don’t like how she associates dreadlocks with being a hippie when they’re a part of African American culture and hippies really have no right to them.

When she awakens in the past, she basically blatantly ignores all of the signs that she’s not in her time and continues to insist to herself that it’s a joke or that the people around her are just “hippies”. She’s very naive and (at 20) this makes her feel overly innocent and rather unlikeable. Also, she’s suicidal but her mentality sounds nothing like someone who’s actually suicidal or depressed and we really don’t even know why she’s suicidal. At least, she never gives a valid reason for it. It makes suicide seem like a whim. Later in the story, she starts sobbing about how she wants to die, but when Daphne asks her if she really wants to die, she decides she doesn’t. STOP DOWNPLAYING SUICIDE. STOP TREATING SUICIDE/DEPRESSION AS A PHASE.

““She had been suicidal for a long time; maybe her mind had fully snapped.” – this is super ableist. First of all, stop saying that being MI makes you crazy. She continues to use this as the story progresses. Second of all, the context here is saying that she might be delusional because she was previously suicidal. Are all MI’s the same now? Am I really hearing that being suicidal also makes you delusional? Excuse me?

“Worse, she was colored in a time when it was not cool.” I physically can’t believe a POC wrote this line. It’s so cringey and just omg. Is she seriously trying to say that the Civil Rights movement made being a POC cool? How? And despite he fact that Daniela maintains her modern diction, the past slang she picks up almost immediately and carries consistently is referring to herself as a “colored person”.

Transphobia – shows girl her boobs in order to explain that she’s not a boy.

Reinforcement of gender roles – Daphne already knew Daniela was a girl bc she was crying earlier.

Even though Daphne’s father beats and rapes her, Daphne attempts to justify it by saying that he’s a good man but changed after her mother died. ““Look—my da was a good man, but since coming back from the war and Ma dying, he’s changed. If I stay, he’s going to do something to me we will forever regret. Leaving is the only way to save us both.” Are we seriously justifying a child abuser and rapist?

This is more a matter of opinion, but Daniela’s ignorance really pissed me off. Reaching New York City, she seems to expect to be greeted with open arms and is very disappointed to see that non-whites aren’t particularly welcome there either. Does this girl know nothing about the lives of POC in history? And the fact that she said earlier that this was the one when it was “uncool” to be a POC because civil rights hadn’t started yet makes it extremely unrealistic that she thinks POC are just openly accepted outside of the South.

So yes, this was by far one of the worst books I’ve ever picked up and I’m honestly ashamed that no one else has pointed out the horde of issues in this book before. If you have the means to read any other book, I’d recommend you read that.

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