BOOK REVIEW | Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

TITLE: Spin the Dawn
SERIES: The Blood of Stars #1
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Lim
PAGE COUNT: 392 pages
PUBLISHER: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult & Romance

SYNOPSIS: 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.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Many thank yous to Penguin Random House South Africa for providing me with a review copy!

Since I first heard about this book, before it was even released, I knew I would absolutely love it. The synopsis, as well as the gorgeous cover, drew me in. Spin the Dawn was one of my most anticipated releases of last year and I am so, so elated to have finally gotten to it.

This book did not disappoint for one moment. From the beginning until the end, I was completely immersed in the story. With a fast-paced atmosphere and magical setting, I hung onto every word written. I could not put this book down as it kept me on my toes and had me wondering the entire time, “What will happen next?”

Maia Tamarin was also such a loveable character. She was strong, fierce, smart and did not give up, no matter how many difficult challenges were thrown her way. Together with Edan, the Enchanter, the both of them made an unstoppable team. 

The ending of the book left me wanting more and I could not stop thinking about Maia’s story for days. I was so surprised to have been accepted for the blog tour of the thrilling sequel, Unravel the Dusk!My review will be posted really soon when it is time for my blog tour stop in early July, so keep an eye out!

“Seize the wind,” I whispered. “Don’t become the kite that never flies.”

Above, the stars faded behind the misty sky, and the sun fanned its light upon us. We melted into each other until the dawn slid into dusk, and the sun paled into the moon, and the stars, once lost, became found again.

“I want you to know that some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably.”
“Don’t all journeys change you?”
“It isn’t the same.”
He leaned forward. “I, too, once journeyed beyond the stars.”
“What did you find?”
His voice turned lethally soft. “That it’s just the beginning.”

“You are my oath now, Maia Tamarin. And you’ll never be free of me.”

I whirled around, but Edan was gone. I let out an exasperated sigh. Never had I met anyone so insufferably pleased with himself.

“You will hold the seams of our family together, Maia. No other tailor in the world can do that.” 

I’d battled ghosts and touched the stars. I’d climbed a mountain to the moon and conquered the fury of the sun.

She gave off a little neigh when I reached to touch her cheek. I fell in love with her immediately.
“You like her more than me,” Edan pouted.
“That’s not hard to do.” I petted her mane again; then offered Edan a small smile. “But thank you.” 

“A sketchbook for a cloak? Hardly seems like a fair trade.”
“It’s a magic sketchbook,” Edan said, reaching for it.
I rolled my eyes. “Really.”
“See, when you turn it upside down, sand falls out.” Edan smiled widely as he caught the desert’s golden grains in his palm. “Sand, sand, and more sand.”
“Oh, you!” 

“You’re used to being underestimated, so you want to prove yourself. Don’t let that be your crutch. Accept help when you need it.” 

Sometimes finding the way is tricky, but you always do. As long as you don’t give up.

I knew then that we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn’t be undone. I wouldn’t let them.”

War comes at a great cost, and from that sacrifice comes peace. Sometimes we must let go of what we value for the future of our country.

We don’t think of being bound to the oath as a sacrifice, but as an honor. It is an honor to use our powers to better this world.

It was the tale of a boy, too. A boy who could fly but not swim. A boy with the powers of the gods but the shackles of a slave. A boy who loved me. 

The sun was a brutal god. Brutal and merciless, he blinded those foolish enough to look at him.

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.

Keep reading and never stop telling stories.

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