Spin the Dawn. Elizabeth Lim. Young adult/Fantasy. 2019. 385 pages. 5 stars.
“I, too, once journeyed beyond the stars.” “What did you find?” His voice turned lethally soft. “That it’s just the beginning.”
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.
Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.
In the end, we all belong to the gods anyway.
Marketed as Mulan x Project Runway in terms of premise, but the plot felt like Aladdin more than anything. For most of the story, Maia’s disguise was rarely mentioned or even used. I guess this is one of those instances where we shouldn’t put our 100% in blurbs! The story is really more than the summary makes it out to be.
I loved the adventure aspect of the story, it gave space for world building without info dumping. Exploring the mountains, the deserts, and the other palaces really gave life to the magical world these characters live in. I was in the middle of a week-long workshop while reading this book and I was using all of my spare time
(and even some hours when I should have been working oops) to see how the plot unfolded for Maia’s journey to become the imperial tailor.
We are so used to broody love interests like Kaz, Rhysand, Warner, etc. but the development of the romance between Edan and Maia felt so natural with the least tension. It was so refreshing. As much as I love angsty slow burn romances, friends-to-lovers kinds of romance still tug at my heart strings.
The ending was shocking, leaving much for the reader to anticipate in its sequel. The standards were set high by this book, I’m hoping that its follow-up will be just as great.
Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.
Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.
Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.
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