Book Review

Spin The Dawn

Spin the Dawn

  • Author: Elizabeth Lim
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: July 9, 2019
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Series: The Blood of Stars #1

TRIGGER WARNING: off page death of a parent, siblings

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

I want to start by admiring the cover. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I love how it ties together all the important themes in the story. 

The story itself is set in a Chinese-inspired world, and I loved the world building. It was an immersive experience — the author really made me feel as if I was transported to another world with her descriptions of the various settings, whether it was buildings, depictions of various foods, gardens, or one of the many different areas the characters traveled to throughout the story. 

Maia has only one dream in life, but as a woman, she is expected to do nothing more than get married and raise children. 

“‘A girl isn’t fit to be anything more than a prize.’”

She’s fiercely devoted to her family, and works hard to keep her father’s tailor shop afloat. She takes her father’s place when summoned to the Emperor’s court, even though she knows that if she is revealed as a girl she’ll be subject to execution. Only the Lord Enchanter seems to know her secret.

Once she’s in the court, she’s exposed to scheming and plotting, and doesn’t know who she can trust. She’s out of her league, and ends up finding an unlikely ally. But when her talent shines during the contest, she is given an impossible task to complete — she will have to cross the continent to create three unique dresses made from the sun, moon, and stars.

“‘I want you to know that some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably.’”

I loved seeing Maia’s journey, and there was a sweet romantic aspect to the story. It was a significant part of storyline, but it didn’t overshadow the plot. Instead, it added an extra level of depth to the story that was vital to the plot itself. I’m a total sucker for a female character who bucks restrictive tradition to overcome challenges and beat the odds. I can’t wait to read the next book!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 11

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