Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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.

Release date: Out Now

Curious and Curios-er. This release intrigued me when i saw it’s blurb while surfing the interwebs. It has been hyped by comparisons to Sarah J Maas and Renee Ahdieh, however i feel this is not a true representation of what this book is. The world-building is Maas-esque whereas the cultural representation of Chinese elements likens to Ahdieh’s beautiful Arabian inspired The Wrath and the Dawn. I feel that Spin the Dawn is strong enough to stand on its own away from these comparisons.

Maia has always been the most talented tailor in her family. Her three older brothers talents landed else-where but Maia has aspirations of being the royal tailor, however she is female and that is simply not allowed. But then the war comes and ravages her family and Maia will risk it all to provide for their ailing shop, her Baba and her brother. This speaks of Maia’s character and deeper personality. Her extreme loyalty and devotion to her family is continually referenced and used throughout the story and underpins her motivations even as romance is introduced.

Edan is the court enchanter and immediately is intrigued by Maia’s hidden presence amongst the much older male participants. However, he has other motivations behind his interest in Maia. Being an enchanter isn’t nearly as romantic and exciting as the title would sound and throughout the story we learn more of Edan’s motivations, his limitations and the future he wishes to grasp. His character has been created as a flawed individual and his relationship with Maia evolves as she seeks the components for the three magical gowns.

World building throughout is amazing. Their is a rawness to certain elements which help to convey the bleakness of the task ahead while remaining vague enough for the imagination to grasp onto elements and paint a picture in the mind. This is impressive seeing as the plot clips on at a substantial pace as the story is created in three parts. The second half of the book is a marked departure from the tone of the first. We are introduced to trails which are completed neatly as Lim gears the plot towards a certain element which concludes the book.

As Maia learns that magic, demons and Gods are real, the consequences of living in the same world can change you as a person and plot points related to this made me gasp and grasp at the pages as i read. The final chapters had tears in my eyes both in sadness and angst. There is a sequel to follow – ARRRGHHH.

So why would you read this? Well, really why wouldn’t you but the elements of magic, friendship, intrigue, world-building and romance should be enough to get you interested. The subtle Chinese imagery and premise of a story revolving around a tailor: not an assassin, warrior or poor village girl. The story revolves around the skills she already has, not skills which she lucks into or magically is master of it within minutes. So go on, Give this book a go.

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