Title: Spin the Dawn
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: The Blood of Stars, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Elizabeth Lim is a name that I’m somewhat familiar with: She wrote Reflection, part of Disney’s Twisted Tales series. I was intrigued by that, so when I found out she was writing an original debut novel, I put it on hold at my local library as soon as I was able. It had been sitting at the top of my library stack for a while, and I didn’t want to return it without reading it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I loved this Chinese-inspired fairy tale, full of ambition, adventure, magic of all kinds, and romance that melted my heart. This series debut has been billed as a mashup of Project Runway and Mulan, and I’d say that that assessment would be pretty accurate. Elizabeth Lim has created a tale worthy of the legends that inspired it, and I will never forget the brave, fierce Maia Tamarin! I can’t wait for the next book in this duology!
Maia Tamarin knows that she is the best tailor in the magical, lush land of A’landi, but alas, she is a girl, and so she cannot even be considered for a position. When the Emperor demands Maia’s ailing, alcoholic father come to the famed Summer Palace, she dresses up as a man and goes in his place. Forced to go up against seven other tailors, Maia is determined to see this quest through, even as the danger mounts. Trapped in a web of political intrigue and danger, the Emperor’s betrothed challenges Maia and the other tailors to make three gowns from the most impossible and legendary materials: the light of the sun, tears of the moon, and blood of stars. Maia sets out to get the materials, and the Imperial Enchanter insists on accompanying her. Distrustful and afraid, Maia sets out to become the kingdom’s first imperial tailor that’s a girl. But everyone is determined to see her fail, and her secret won’t stay under wraps for long… Will Maia achieve her dream and free her family from poverty, or lose everything in the pursuit of the impossible?
I absolutely loved this book! The cover was totally gorgeous, and initially, that was the thing that caught my eye. But what really made this gem of a novel special was what was inside. I love fairy tale retellings, but this one was absolutely, utterly original, and enchanting. The pacing was breakneck, and I was instantly captivated by Maia’s voice. The worldbuilding was amazing, and I was spellbound by the magical, mysterious land of A’landi, torn apart by a vicious war. I loved the danger and magic and the nearly impossible quest that Maia must undertake to satisfy her ambition and save her family. But I think my favorite parts of Spin the Dawn were the romance between Edan and Maia, and Maia’s own character development. I loved watching her from a quiet and meek girl into a fierce warrior, unafraid to go after her dreams and take what she wanted for herself. Elizabeth Lim has become one of my favorite authors, and I’ll say it because I always do: Diverse books for the win! The bottom line: Beautiful, dangerous and unforgettable, Spin the Dawn has become one of my favorite books of 2019! Next on deck: Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare!