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 enchanter, 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.”
This is the first fantasy book that I have been able to read in less than five days. I was sucked in before I even finished the first page. And let me tell you, I even cried when I finished the first page. If a book is able to make you cry or feel something within the first few pages, you know its going to take you on an emotional rollercoaster that you don’t want to end.
“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.”
As many of y’all know, this book has been called a “Mulan retelling that meets Project Runway”. Well I haven’t seen Project Runway, but I love Mulan because she was the only Asian Disney princess when I was growing up. So when I heard that this book had elements of Mulan with fashion, I was READY for it! This book also had a Selection-ish type of competition where the master tailors had to fight to become the emperor’s tailor.
Maia has dreamt her whole life of becoming the emperor’s tailor, and after many years, she has the opportunity to win the competition when the current emperor dies suddenly, and her father is offered the chance to compete. Maia’s father is left broken after losing his wife to an illness years before and more recently, losing his two sons to war. So Maia decides to go as her injured brother, Keton, to save what’s left of her family’s honor.
“You – you want to restore honor to your family’s name. And I suppose you want to prove to yourself that you can be as good as a man.”
Throughout the competition, Maia learns that there’s more to the things she has learned and must trust the gift that her father gave her in order to not only make it through alive, but possibly save the country from going back to war.
This book is told in three different parts with the beginning telling of the how Maia started helping her father with sewing in a male dominated profession and how she ends up going to the competition as her brother. Then there’s the journey where Maia and Edan go to find some mythical items to be sown into dresses that no one has been able to make. And, lastly, part three with the end of the journey and where Maia and her family’s life could come to an end if her dresses aren’t up to the Lady Sarnai’s expectations.
Over the course of this book Maia grows up tremendously. She is pushed to her physical and mental limits throughout her journey of being the great tailor and keeping her position. Her beliefs of magic changes and she realizes that she has some small amount in her blood that makes her able to weld a dull pair of scissors that are able to make magnificent items. She learns that the emperor that everyone adores isn’t the man that he appears to be, and that someone she loves could become one of the monsters that people tells stories about if she isn’t able to try to get one step ahead of an unknown opponent all without losing herself in the process.
Edan… oh how he stole my heart during this book. He’s the emperor’s sorcerer that is able to use magic. He’s something else. Over the many years of his life he has learned to give the least amount of an answer possible because he knows the power of words and how easily it is to get ensnared in a position that is unpleasant. As a sorcerer his job is to help protect everyone in the kingdom, yet when he meets Maia, his world is turned on its axis because he know wants to protect this girl who is pretending to be her brother to save what’s left of her family. He provokes, teases, and makes the butterflies in Maia’s stomach take flight every time she thinks of him. Oh, and he loves books. I mean any man that spends time reading books is an automatic friend of mine.
There was an automatic connection of some sort from the very beginning between Maia and Edan. It wasn’t a love at first site type of thing, but there was a deeper understanding. Maia wanted to know who Edan is other than the sorcerer to the emperor and take time to learn more about him than other people.
There were so many feelings through this book. I obviously cried (a lot), laughed, swoon, wanted to smack Edan a couple of times (because guys always have that talent of doing the honorable thing that is also stupid but we wouldn’t have it any other way), and wished that I don’t have to wait for the next book.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know below!
Happy reading until next time,