Mabuhay, friends and enemies!
I am beyond ecstatic to share with you a book that left me crying into my pillow after reading it late into the night. Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim has exceeded every expectation I have had for this book. A beautiful story about following one’s dreams, fighting against fate, and falling in love, Spin The Dawn is far more captivating that its gorgeous cover. I hope my review will convince you to pick up this literary piece! And don’t forget to join in the giveaway below!
SPIN THE DAWN BY ELIZABETH LIM
BOOK ONE OF THE BLOOD OF 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.
Trigger Warnings: loss of a loved one, war, violence, blood, sexual assault
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Spin The Dawn took my breath away. It is more than just the story of an imperial tailor and an enchanter on a quest. Elizabeth Lim writes her book in such a way that each chapter feels like a piece of embroidery – joy, hope, sorry, and anger is woven together by the author to lead us to an ending that is heart-shattering. This is to say that Spin The Dawn is not a book which is easily forgettable.
As in the story of Mulan, Maia Tamarin disguises herself as a boy to win the favour of the Emperor and become the Imperial Tailor so that she could help her family. Maia’s determination to push against societal norms and support her family made for a fierce female protagonist. However, what really impressed upon me was her firm belief to rely solely on her skills. Even with the magical scissors in her possession, Maia refused staunchly to win her way into the competition with magic. That is what made me fall in love with Maia – her unwavering belief in herself.
“You have considerable skill for one so young, Master Tamarin. I would say the gods must smile on you, but I noticed no shrine or amulets for luck on your table. Are you not superstitious?”
“I believe in hard work, Your Highness. Hard work and honesty.”
But of course, as the story becomes more dangerous, Maia’s enchantment and her scissors come into play. As she becomes more familiar with magic, Maia begins to question its existence and her own talent for the thread. Is magic truly as evil as the people believe? This is another personal quest Maia goes one – to challenge her own beliefs about the world. Maia’s passion and strength fostered her growth in to a fierce and resilient woman.
The world of A’landi was beautifully portrayed; as we journeyed from the imperial palace to the Halakmarat desert to Rainmaker’s Peak, and finally to the Isles of Lapzur, each place was imbued with its own peculiar landscape. I was in awe of how Elizabeth Lim could easily draw her readers into the story with her description of the blistering desert or the forgotten islands. Magic and enchantment are certainly alive in Elizabeth Lim’s prose.
He wore black yet again – a good color for skulking in the shadows and catching people unaware.
I’m not normally a fan of romance in fantasy novels but Maia and Edan was just as captivating. I have not been this engrossed in a literary couple since I’ve read Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. Healthy relationships, building trust, star-crossed lovers, and a slow burn romance are apparently my weakness. Their love story was another star to add into the constellation of myths in Spin The Dawn. I honestly cannot imagine this story without their relationship which really comes to show how well-written the chemistry between the two characters is.
Edan is the imperial enchanter to Empero Khanujin; I love how light-hearted and cocky he could be. His relationship with Maia began as a playful banter and then grew into one that was so passionate. As their relationship grew, the characters began to question their own role in the bigger picture. Their vulnerability was the stepping stone to asking how completely can we love another? How much of one’s past are we willing to live with? And most importantly, when you have lived a life that has never been in your control, are you willing to wrestle back your fate for the one you love?
But I would give up the sun and moon and stars if it meant saving him.
Him – the boy with no name and yet a thousand names. The boy whose hands are stained with the blood of stars.
The boy I love.
But it is not just Maia and Edan who will catch your attention. The supporting characters like Lady Sarnai, Empero Khanujin, Keton, and Bandur each have a story that needs to be told. Each character had an agency to drove the plot forward and I hope that we will get to know more about them in book two.
On the surface, the myths, the competition, and the characters beautifully delivered the story of Spin The Dawn, however, to me it was the deeper questions and the character agencies that truly added colour to Spin The Dawn. My journey through the world of A’landi was mesmerizing and I doubt that I will forget this tale.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
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Have you read Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim? What did you think of it? What was your favourite scene?
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I received a free copy of SPIN THE DAWN BY ELIZABETH LIM from The Fantastic Flying Book in exchange for my participation in the blog tour. Thank you to the author, Elizabeth Lim and Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, for sending a copy my way. However, this did not influence my review in any way.
Follow the rest of the bloggers on this tour!
If you are looking for more reviews from Asian readers, I would also recommend checking out Shut Up, Shealea’s blog tour!
15 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: SPIN THE DAWN BY ELIZABETH LIM || A GOLDEN TALE OF LOVE, DUTY, AND DEFYING IMPOSSIBILITIES”
I love ANY story with even the slightest similarities to Mulan so you basically had me at the sypnosis 😍 It sounds incredible, and I’ve been dying for some good fantasy reads this year so I’m definitely going to check it out!
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Do pick it up and let me know what you think 🙂 Don’t forget to join in the giveaway if you can!
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Alas, I don’t live in the US but I’ll be buying my own copy anyway 😉
Ahh I’m so glad you loved this one so much! It’s one of my most anticipated reads and I just can’t wait to get to it 🙂
Lovely review ❤
That cover is so beautiful and the story sounds amazing. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this one yet. And healthy relationships need to be depicted more in fiction, especially since it seems to be largely dominated by borderline abusive “romances.” Fantastic review, I can’t wait to read this!
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Yes, I hope you pick up the book! I forgot to mention in my review that Edan is actually a 500 years old enchanter while Maia is 19 years old. It didn’t bother me as much because their relationship development was wonderful & I didn’t see Edan taking advantage of Maia. Just wanted give you a heads up for when you pick up the book!
I totally enjoyed Spin the Dawn! And my favorite part was the romance. I loved the teasing help in the beginning and how cluless Maia was about him. And I loved all the reveals about him later as they got to know one another. And Maia was so selfless in the end! Sure she didn’t really think about how her actions could get him murdered but she could have made a lot more selfish choices and didn’t. ❤️
I am so glad you loved this book, Camillea! I didn’t request an arc of this one, but I have put in a request to my library. I hope to be able to read this one soon.
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Yay! Let me know what you think of it 🙂