I received this book for free from Knopf Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Series: The Blood of Stars #1
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 9th, 2019
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Source: Knopf Books for Young Readers
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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.
Spin the Dawn is the book I didn’t know I needed and I want to cry from how happy I am that I read it and that it could revolutionize my life. As a baby blogger, I rarely read contemporary. I exclusive read fantasy. These past few years though, fantasy has not really been holding my attention and I find myself avoiding it for the most part except for a few books here and there. Before Spin the Dawn, the last high fantasy I read was Wicked Saints back in April. I rated in 4 stars at the time but in retrospect it was not a 4 star read given that for half the book, my attention wandered. For the first time in literal years, I don’t want to read contemporary. I want to read fantasy now and find the books that work for me.
Spin the Dawn is a book that captivated me from the first page and I struggled to put it down. It’s the fantasy I didn’t even know I was craving and I am so happy, so so so happy that I picked it up. I’ve also realized that my issue with fantasy books might not be the genre itself but more that the fantasy that comes out these days isn’t always my thing. I love hero’s journeys and adventures. I don’t always love blood & gore and that seems to be more common in fantasy these days.
Maia Tamarin wants to become the emperor’s tailor and prove herself to a world that claims she would be unfit for such a profession. She also wants to provide for what’s left of her family after the war all crushed their spirits and took away her two brothers. When the emperor’s orders summon her father to the capital to compete for a position as the emperor’s tailor, Maia decides to go in his place. Little does she know that a whole world of magic and betrayal await her.
Neither Maia or Edan are wholly unique as characters. Badass female leads and snarky boys are a dime a dozen in YA, but that doesn’t mean I love that any less or that I didn’t scream any time they so much as glanced at one another. It also doesn’t mean that their voices weren’t unique or that they weren’t incredibly well-written.
Maia is smart and talented but also stubborn to a fault sometimes. She wants to prove herself so badly that she will refuse help even when her competitors don’t. Yes she grows but she also doesn’t become a completely different person. Just… a more mature version of herself who can ask for help (but also more.) I love that even with all the extraordinary magic and power around and in her, she seems completely ordinary at times. She isn’t ‘not like the other girls.’ She has goals she wants to accomplish and people she wants to protect.
Not to be dramatic or anything but the romance b/w Maia and Edan is to die for, imho. The BANTER. The SUPPORTIVENESS. The slow build up??? Dying just thinking about it tbh. I loved Maia and Edan as individuals and I loved them even more together.
If that wasn’t enough, Spin the Dawn takes us on a journey to find three magical items to make three magical dresses from that could award the wearer with godly powers. The pacing was ~just~ right for me and I honestly went through 387 pages faster than I do with some contemporaries of a similar length.
Anyone who loves hero’s journeys set in luscious fantastical worlds will love this book. But beware, those who do not enjoy cliff hangers will want to wait until the sequel is out to read this one because YES, this book will also punch you in the feels. And yes, you will be desperate for the sequel upon finishing. I am honestly so glad a sequel is already in the works because I would have died otherwise. Anyway, to sum up, I have not loved a fantasy as much as I loved Spin the Dawn in ages and I truly think that it is worth the read.
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