Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
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.
Hi folks! I’m so grateful to be able to be a part of the blog tour for Elizabeth’s Spin the Dawn, an incredibly creative and vivid Asian-inspired fantasy. Thank you so much to Shealea and Caffiene Book Tours for giving me this opportunity! I’m very excited to share my review and some aesthetics and quotes today.
There’s an aspect in high fantasy worldbuilding that doesn’t, in my opinion, get due credit, and that’s the fashion and clothing of the world. I love historical fashion, but most books tend to skim over the clothes that bring life to the world and characters. Spin the Dawn turns it into an epic story filled with action, romance, and amazing worldbuilding.
Our heroine is Maia Tamarin, a skilled tailor who takes her brother’s place in a competition to become the new imperial tailor. I very much adored Maia’s character and love that we don’t see your typical fantasy protagonist here. Maia is not a fighter; she can get by when she needs to, but she’s not good at it. Rather, her talent lies in tailoring: knitting, sewing, embroidering, and it’s exactly what she needs to excel in the world she lives in. Maia is headstrong, determined, and incredibly dedicated to her craft, and it’s clear that she’s a true expert–magical scissors or not. Maia has also been through a lot in her lifetime: she’s lost her mother and two of her brothers while the rest of her family is also shattered from the lost, and even though she’s learned to heal from it to some extent, her experience is something that colours her narrative and character arc. It gives her the drive she needs to take care of her family and pour all her energy into succeeding.
Of all the other characters, Edan really stands out: he was so sweet all the time, with a lot of mystery and a great sense of humour. Honestly, a standup guy all around and an absolutely loveable love interest. Unlike a lot of relationships between immortals and teenagers, this one only weirded me out a bit (the Darkling who? I only know Edan). I also loved the slow burn component to the romance; their romance subplot didn’t feel too dragged out or too quick. And one character who we didn’t learn a whole lot about but who absolutely intrigues me is Emperor Khanujin, who despite being relatively young for an emperor has put his kingdom through a war. It certainly looks like there’s a lot more to him than the surface shows, and I hope Maia (and us!) get to find out more about him in the next book.
The land of A’landi was also fascinating and in many ways timeless, taking inspiration from all parts of China and other Asian cultures to create A’landi. I’m not sure if A’landi is meant to be a counterpart of China or not, but it definitely reads more like a cultural fusion of Asian cultures than only China–from the descriptions of the food, to names, people, and fashions. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it: the world of Spin the Dawn is one of the most vivid and realized fantasy worlds I’ve read in a while, and I loved seeing all of the different environments and places of A’landi.
Elizabeth Lim’s writing is so lyrical and gorgeous and truly a pleasure to read. In terms of pacing, I felt as if it was mostly done right–there are two different sections to the book that have two very different tones and plots. However, I don’t think either would have been able to constitute a book on its own. I also feel as if the final part of the book was a bit rushed–but hopefully, this is something that I’ll feel better about after I read the sequel (which I am very excited for).
I very much enjoyed reading Spin the Dawn: it’s a rare bit of fantasy that doesn’t focus on physical trials and protagonists who know how to fight, but it’s still packed with action and adventure. The loveable characters and wonderfully crafted world will certainly leave readers wanting more.
aesthetics + giveaway!!
We also have a giveaway going on! You can enter to win a copy of Spin the Dawn at this link, and good news, it’s INTERNATIONAL!!
(Ya girl loves international giveaways.)
We also have a Twitter chat happening at 9pm Phillipines time–which is 9am EST and 6am PST. There will be a giveaway for US-based participants, so if you’re in the US, set your alarms.
You can also check out the rest of the tour schedule here!
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.
what are your favourite mulan retellings, or favourite asian fantasies?? will you be reading spin the dawn when it comes out??