Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim
Publication Date : July 9th 2019
Publisher : Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre : YA / Fantasy
Page : 392
*** Note : I won e-copy of this book as winner of Goodread YA buddy read group challenge. ***
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.
Spin the Dawn was magical YA fantasy that revolved around Maia’s dream and her journey to become imperial tailor. It was about following dream and aspirations, greed and power, hope and perseverance, family, friendship, and forbidden love.
Cover was stunning and so was the book. It definitely lived up to the hype. Writing was beautiful, vivid and mesmerising. It had fairy-tale vibe and would make amazing Disney movie. Book was written in first person narrative from Maia POV. The plot was gripping that hooked me to the story from the first page. Story was divided in three parts– The Trial, The Journey and The Oath. All three part were brilliant.
The beginning was fabulous with character intro and lovely family dynamic. I loved knowing Maia and her family, what war did to her family and how important it was for her to chase her dream to be best tailor in A’landi and that seemed to come true when her father got invitation to be imperial tailor. However, her father or brother were in no condition to travel or to be imperial tailor and girls were not allowed to run business let alone be tailor in court in this world. People believed girls were not good enough or only good enough to marry off and serve their husbands. The only option for Maia was to accept invitation as her brother, going to palace as a boy knowing if anyone found out the punishment would be death.
To be imperial tailor was not easy even after the invitation. There was competition among 12 tailors, bests of A’landi and only winner will be chosen to be imperial tailor. There were lies, bullying, backstabbing, and deceivers. And then there was impending marriage of emperor with enemy’s daughter who would do all in her power to delay the marriage, that was sending the chosen tailor to impossible task, chase the myth.
I was curious to know how Maia was going to win the competition, how her scissor had magic and what was the story behind it, who was sabotaging her creation, how she would make the dresses to-be-highness demanded, and how the journey would change her and what will be end of her forbidden romance.
There was everything I want in fantasy– Mulan meets Project Runaway (I haven’t seen project runaway but I can say it is perfect description from what I have heard), a trial, adventurous quest, peace of kingdom at risk, forbidden romance, a legend and myth, magic, ghosts, and Gods. what more one need!
Characters were interesting. I didn’t like any secondary characters except Maia’s family and some tailors during competition. They all had two sided specially the emperor. I could tell who was good or bad clearly and even earlier than it was revealed.
It was easy to feel for Maia. She was lovely, brave, smart, inquisitive, resilient, caring, and ambitious. Her dream, passion and determination were admirable. Tailoring ran in her blood and she didn’t stop doing what she loved and lived for because of dire situation, for what society expected or for a boy. Her feeling and doubts were realistic and her development was gradual and came at just right time. Maia’s tailoring skill were amazingly narrated throughout the book and dresses she created were mind-blowing.
The Lord Enchanter, Edan was, by default, best character in the book. I’m in love with him. He reminded me of Magnus. His description was brilliant and I so loved his eyes with different colours depicting his mood. He brought book to life. There were many rumours that said he was selfish, fickle and reckless but we know his true nature on his journey with Maia. I loved how he saved Maia’s ass whenever she got in trouble. His life story was amazing.
World-building was best part of the book and so was the middle part, ‘The Journey’. It was enchanting to read the landscape, rituals and beliefs of A’landi which was more elaborate and vividly described during ‘The Journey’ of Maia and Edan. In this part we know more about Edan, his life story in pieces, the myth and legend of three dresses of the Goddess Amana. Legend was inspired from East Asian mythology, Chinese culture (I’m not familiar with the legend but I would love to read more about it). The mystery behind the Emperor’s charm and how Maia had magical scissor was revealed by the end of this part.
I’m sucker for forbidden romance. It came in the second half of the book but it was lovely. I liked flirting and banter in first half of the book. It was interesting to read their growing friendship and trust, how they knew each other better as the book progressed. It was sad to read why they couldn’t be together and yet both promising to find a way and how last stage of their journey changed everything.
The twist and turns were good. I could predict half of the thing while some were surprising. The third and the last part, The Oath, wrapped up the story. Climax was both tense and awe inspiring. I loved what Maia did once she finished the dresses. There were so many emotions from climax to end. The end was perfectly bittersweet that left me curious to read next book and see how Maia and Edan would find a way to unravel the dusk looming over them.
Overall, Spin the Dawn was perfectly written fantasy with mesmerising world, characters, and legends. I highly recommend this book.
Thank you for reading my review and I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what you think about this book and my review, if you have read this already or any books by the same author. Have you read a book in which main character had tailoring skill or a talent that you rarely see in novels.
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