TITLE: Unravel the Dusk
SERIES: The Blood of Stars #2
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Lim
PAGE COUNT: 368 pages
PUBLISHER: Knopf Books for Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: 7 July 2020
GENRE: Young Adult & Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.
Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.
But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.
YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.
Many thank yous to the blog tour team, as well as the author, for providing me with an eARC!
I am so grateful to have been accepted for my first ever blog tour for Unravel the Dusk! The first book of Maia and Edan’s story, Spin the Dawn, is one of my favourite books of the year thus far. I was elated to have received an early copy of this highly anticipated sequel and let me tell you, it exceeded my expectations.
The heroine of the story, Maia Tamarin, goes through terrible challenges throughout this book but the reader can see how much she has grown despite all that has happened. She is one of those characters one can easily admire for her strength and courage.
Unravel the Dusk was a fast-paced, action-packed and heart-hammering read, and it is because of all those things that I flew through it. The story is easy to follow and it captured my attention the entire time. It was a book I read late into the night as I was not able to put it down. This book has a much darker atmosphere than the first one as it expands on the tough challenges Maia has to face and escalated the themes of the first book.
I also loved and appreciated the strength the female characters showed in this book. Maia, Ammi and Lady Sarnai are all inspiring in their own way as their stories encourage you to overcome difficult obstacles, follow your dreams and to show others just how powerful you can be.
Near the ending of the book, tears we streaming down my cheeks and my whole body was covered in goosebumps. It was so beautifully written and I could not have asked for a better ending. Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk teaches you that you can overcome any obstacle with family and friends by your side, and that with love in your heart, you can chase away the darkest shadows and the coldest of nights.
You can find my review for the first book, Spin the Dawn, here.
YOU CAN FIND THE FULL BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE HERE.
“Everyone has a thread tied to someone—a person who’s meant to be by your side and make you happy.”
Every time a little happiness dared to seep into the cracks of my heart and tried to make it full again, fate intervened to remind me I couldn’t escape my destiny. Fate took my heart and crushed it little by little…
Beginning today, things would be different. Beginning today, when fate caught me, I’d meet it head-on and make it my own. Beginning today, I would have no heart.
Sentur’na, the ghosts had called me. Simply remembering the name brought a shiver racing down my spine. I didn’t know what that meant. Nor did I know how long I had left before my transformation. Once it did, I’d never see my face in the mirror again. I’d never hear my name being called again. Never see my family again. Or Edan.
The moon was as starved as it had been the night before, a fragile crescent—according to legend, that meant the Goddess of the Moon could not see her lover, the God of the Sun. When the moon was full she could see him, so she was happier. Remembering the story made me think of Edan. I’d likely never see him again, never feel his arms around me, or inhale the warmth of his skin touching mine, never hear his voice caress my name.
We were like the sun and the moon, sharing the same stars and the same sky. Somehow, that made him feel less far away. And made my heart feel slightly less alone. Less cold.
Would they turn against me when I became a demon? Or join me in my fall?
“Stoke the flames, Maia. Let it burn.”
“Stop lying to yourself,” he said in a pitying tone. “Amana cannot save you. Soon the dresses too will be consumed by the power inside you. What a guardian you will be then, armed with the sun and the moon and the stars.”
Xitara—my brightest one. Forgive me for leaving you. It is not what I would choose, but I would pay any price for your freedom—for your happiness. You say you will not be happy without me, but I know that is not true. Live your life, Xitara.
Let the laughter of the sun aid my people, I prayed, watching it burn brighter and brighter. Let the power of Amana save them and bring hope for another day.
“Why do the trees change color?” I had asked my brothers. Sendo had paused, no doubt trying to think of a poetic answer for me. But the ever-blunt Finlei beat him to answering, “Because they’re dying.”
“He means,” said Sendo, seeing my stricken expression, “that as the green fades, the leaves die and fall off the trees.”
Their answers had quieted me. I’d studied the vibrant smears of paint on my fingers, then looked to the trees by the sea. “If dying is this beautiful, then I wish I were a tree too. I’d be happy to die and be reborn in the spring.”
Who would I even be by the end of the fortnight? Someone who couldn’t feel love? Someone who couldn’t be loved? I felt more of myself slipping away. No matter how hard I tried to hold on to my memories, they were like water, leaking through the seams of my fingers.
Fire bubbled in my blood, ready to boil over if I would let it. I let it.
The ice around my heart thawed, and I wound my arms over his shoulders. “Edan. You found me.” Relief bloomed in his eyes, and his shoulders, which had carried all the tension in the world, released. “I’d find you anywhere, xitara.” Xitara. In Old A’landan, it meant little lamb. But also something else—in a language I’d never learned. “Brightest one,” I whispered. Brightest one, in Nelrat, the language Edan had grown up speaking.
“Now that I’ve found you again, Maia, I will never leave you. I will stay by your side until the fire in the sun grows cold and the light in the moon is no more. Until time blots out the stars.”
Above us, dusk was falling. Amana was winding up the threads of the day, unspooling shadow and moonlight across the aging sky. And my cloth bird had returned—she fluttered from tree to tree, making percussion of the rustling leaves before she returned to my palm. As I patted her soft head, I sighed. Maybe her return was a sign of better things to come.
I pulled on my hair, trying to grasp something, anything to help me hold on to the girl I’d once been. My fingers found the plum blossom Edan had placed in my hair, and I held it on my palm. I started to close my fingers over the petals, but a gust of wind swept in, carrying the flower from my hand. I lunged after it, but it was already too late. Over the mountain, it drifted off. Lost and never to be recovered.
“My mother believed in fate.” I unwound the thread, wrapping it around his wrist. “She told me there was an invisible thread tying me to someone else.” I looked up to meet his eyes. “Someone I was destined to meet and would be bound to all my life.”
I pressed my palms against his, studying his hands—the palms once stained with the blood of stars. They weren’t a noble’s hands. Rough along the sides with calluses like mine, but his fingers were long and graceful.
Slowly, I tied the thread around his wrist, knotted it.
“You said that I am your oath now,” I whispered, “so I bind you to me. No matter what happens, come back on the ninth day of the ninth month. Every year, I will wait for you—by the sea where I grew up, back home in Port Kamalan.”
A long time ago, a foolish girl was asked to weave the sun, embroider the moon, and paint the stars, three impossible tasks she did not believe she could accomplish. But that foolish girl was lucky, even more so because those three impossible tasks freed the boy she loved.
“Maybe in the next life you won’t even like to read.”
“Oh, I doubt that,” replied Edan wryly.
“I am not alone,” I repeated. “And not all is lost.”
My throat went dry. What memories I had left were like wild birds trapped in a cage. One by one, they flew out, never to return.
“A needle is to a tailor as a sword is to a warrior. It is not that different.”
But hope was a valuable weapon, and we were sharpening its every edge.
Baba’s eyes clouded with the tears he’d been trying to hold back. “You love him,” he said. “He is the one your mother spoke of, then. The one you are tied to, from this life to the next.”
“Your heart is strong, sister,” said my brother, hearing my thoughts. “It always has been.”
Let go, he had said. Slowly, I did. I released the fear I had locked around my heart, and in its place love rushed forth—love for my family, love for my country, love for Edan.
With a burst, my dress sprang to life, the blood of stars rippling in surges across the lustrous silk. Beams of light flickered across my long sleeves, darting out like needles of silver. Power wreathed me, its glow coursing through my sleeves so they fanned like wings. No longer was I a humble seamstress from Port Kamalan: I was the tailor of the gods.
The sea glittered before us, full of possibility. Not long ago, I’d thought my story was like a fairy tale. After all, there were demons and ghosts, an emperor ensorcelled, and a princess who’d become the greatest warrior of her generation. Sometimes I didn’t quite believe that I’d sewn the sun, the moon, and the stars into Amana’s legendary dresses. That Edan was really mine.
That tale was over. Perhaps fate had more magic in store for us in the future. But for now, I was content just to drift in the glittering sea with the boy I loved.
Whatever history remembered of us, whether it likened us to the sun and the moon—only permitted to meet once a year—or simply to a boy and a girl touched by the stars, fate had danced to bring us together.
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.