Hi everyone! I’m sure a lot of bloggers have run into the problem where they’ve requested a bunch of ARCs but then didn’t have the time to read them before the release date. In my case, I stupidly requested ARCs from Netgalley when I didn’t have a way that I could read those books. Of course, I could’ve used my phone or laptop to read them, but if you’ve ever tried to read full books on those devices it’s not ideal. So I’ve finally had enough time that I can start catching up on those old ARCs, starting with Spin the Dawn!
Spin the Dawn
by Elizabeth Lim
Series: The Blood of Stars #1
Release date: July 9th 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting! The synopsis is a tad bit misleading, because it really only covers the first maybe, 40% of the book and then things really take a turn. I’ve seen a few people mention that they didn’t like the shift in the story but for me I really enjoyed it. It definitely is a fantasy romance, ESPECIALLY the second half where it becomes a main focus so if that isn’t something that you’re looking for, then maybe this wouldn’t be for you.
I have to say, I was a little bit apprehensive going into this because of the project runway comparison because I wasn’t sure if I would like that aspect of it, but I’m happy to say that I really liked the way the competition was incorporated into the story.
I really enjoyed the characters of Maia and Edan, especially as we learn more about each of them. The side characters didn’t really feel like they had much personality though, they felt pretty bland. I will also say that I was a little surprised by the romance, but mainly because I had expected Maia to have a completely different love interest based on the description! I thought she was going to fall in love with the Emperor! Maia was very strong willed and would clearly do anything for those that she loves, often putting them before herself. And Edan started off as this mysterious, unlikable guy and ended up opening up and I really loved his character!
As for the setting, I didn’t feel like I was all that immersed in the world and I was a little confused as to the history of the war and locations. I wasn’t able to get a very good picture of what the world looked like, I just know there was a desert, a mountain, some islands in a lake, and then the palace which I imagined like an ancient Chinese palace (since this is a Chinese inspired fantasy). I would’ve liked just a little more description on these places, but where the descriptions really shone was when it came to the dresses! I could easily picture what each of them looked like, and it was very well done.
The ending was also quite unexpected, and I’m curious to see where everything goes in the final book, because honestly I have no clue. I also hope we get more background on the world and some of the characters, because it felt a little lacking in this one.
All in all, it was a highly enjoyable read and I’m excited to get to the next book soon!