Monday, August 17, 2020

Book Review: Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Author: Elizabeth Lim
Series: The Blood of Stars #1
Audience:  Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy, Fairy tale retelling
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 9th 2019
My Rating: 5 Cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
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.
*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.

Spin The Dawn is one of the books I've been deathly afraid to read. The more of my friends were reading it and loving it, the more I was afraid of reading it. Thankfully ARC August happened and Soph @ Bookwyrming Thoughts had been lovingly and gently pestering urging me to add this book to my TBR, and since I also had the sequel, I decided this was the time. I did not expect to love this book as much as I did, and if you take nothing else from my review, know that I am very tempted to double my rating into a 10-cups rating, which I've never done. EVER. In 10 years of blogging. So there you have it. Let's get to it, shall we?

Spin The Dawn  tells the story of Maia Tamarin and her desire to become a master tailor. She inherited her father's talent for making the most beautiful clothes, no matter the craft she uses for making them, but because she's a woman, she will never achieve her goals. Only men are deemed talented and worthy of becoming Masters of any crafts. And even if Maia's work was beautiful and her father would let her create some of the clothes for the clients coming into their shop, no one knew it was actually Maia who made them.

I loved Maia's strength and determination. She knew she had to be the one to go to the palace, because her father and her brother were not able to go, and even if she could have been executed for lying to the emperor, she did what she had to in order to help her family. I also loved her sense of right and wrong. She was certain that using magic meant cheating her way into winning the competition, so she refused to use her magic scissors. And that shows just how talented she truly was, because she was doing all those beautiful designs by herself. Also, I want to mention that the tasks were impossible. A jacket out of paper? And glass slippers? But our heroine did them all perfectly, which is why I adored her and was rooting for her.

While struggling to win the competition against men who did not have the same morals as her, Maia attracts the attention of a very interesting character, Edan. I want it known that when I first met Edan I knew he was going to be special, and I hoped he wouldn't turn out to be a villain. Because guys...I usually have my attention grabbed by the villains in YA it seems. I won't spoil his character for you, but he was awesome.

What surprised me about this book was that even though it's shorter than 400 pages, the story is so detailed, and the plot is so dense, that it felt like I was reading a 500-page book. Which to me is always awesome. The worldbuilding was amazing, and we get just enough details to feel like we know this world, but not too many that the reader may feel overwhelmed. And there are so many things happening in this book, too!

I loved this story, in case I wasn't sufficiently clear. I'm not sorry I waited to read it though, because not only can I jump straight into the sequel, but because I got the chance to manage my expectations. Even if I went into reading this book with insanely high expectations, I still believe I would have ended up loving this book. And now I'm off to read the sequel guys, because the ending of this book was so heartbreaking, I can't wait.

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