Book Review: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: July 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf Books

Pages: 392

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

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.

Spin the Dawn is a magical YA fantasy novel that had me thoroughly enchanted. There’s something mystical about this story and Lim’s writing that just drew me in right from the first chapter.

From the description, the contest sounds like a large part of the story, but I was aware from reading other reviews that it actually only takes up a relatively small part of the book. I knew to expect more of a travelling/adventure narrative so wasn’t disappointed that the contest was short. My attention did waver a little in the middle when Maia and Edan are travelling through the desert, but it quickly picks up again and I was hooked in the latter half in particular.

I really enjoyed seeing a YA novel told from a perspective I’ve not seen before – that of a tailor. Protagonists in YA are often princesses, queens, rebels, thieves, assassins etc. Maia’s skill, and her dreams, lie in tailoring. The descriptions of her creations are stunning and it was wonderful to see the world through the eyes of a tailor. I also liked that family is important to her and how that is woven into the story. The relationships she has with her brothers is shown really well.  

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Books I Want to Read in 2020

I don’t set myself a monthly TBR as I’m more of a mood reader. I like to read what takes my fancy, but I do always have some books in mind at the beginning of the year that I want to read at some point in the coming months. This year I’m going to try and read a good mix of new releases, books waiting on my shelf, and books released a while ago that I haven’t read yet.

There are many series I’m midway through that I’d like to continue reading. I’ve been making my way through Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I’m looking forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse as I still need to read Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars. A book I wanted to read last year was Fear by Michael Grant – the fifth book in the Gone series – but that’s one I didn’t get round to. I only have the last book in Marie Lu’s The Young Elites trilogy left to read – The Midnight Star – so I’d like to be able to finish that series this year. And of course I want to continue reading Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. Next on my radar is Lady Midnight.

I have on my shelf a few books released in 2019 that I haven’t read yet. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer are two in particular I really want to read in 2020. Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zao came out right at the end of 2019 and I’m planning on reading that this month for the Illumicrate monthly readalong.

The 2020 releases I definitely want to read this year are The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman and The Damned by Renée Ahdieh. Both are sequels to books I read in 2019. I’d also like to discover some new authors in 2020 too.  

Let’s see how many of these I actually end up reading! What books are you planning on reading this year?