Posted in Book Review

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Read Dates: May 2, 2019 – May 6, 2019
Expected Publication date: July 9, 2019
Source: Netgalley ARC via the publisher

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Maia Tamarin is the youngest daughter of a famous tailor, but when her mother dies, her father’s health drastically declines and she has to pick up the slack of her father’s work. The Five Winter’s War has claimed two of Maia’s brother’s but her youngest brother, Keton, returns with terrifying tales of war and paralyzed legs. Maia is determined to keep her family fed and clothed and decides to become the best tailor in all of A’landi, taking her father’s jobs and pouring her heart into her work. One day, a representative from the emperor’s palace visits the Tamarin residence at the emperor’s request to collect Maia’s father and take him to the palace where he is to become the emperor’s imperial tailor. To refuse would be to disrespect the emperor and bring dishonor to the family name. Knowing her father is not able to go due to his health and her brother cannot possibly go since he cannot walk, Maia cuts her hair, dons her brother’s clothes, and takes her father’s place posing as her brother, Keton. Women have great restrictions in her land and if anyone found out she was a woman, she would be sentenced to death. But Maia wants better for her family. This is her chance to make enough jen to be able to take care of her two remaining family members. However, upon arriving to the palace, she finds that 12 tailors were chosen to compete for the title of the emperor’s “imperial tailor” and Maia must overcome many challenges if she wants to succeed in winning the title, bringing honor to her family, and making her “baba” proud. She’ll work tirelessly, venture far, make many enemies and unlikely allies… all to gain the title she’s always dreamed of.

The contents of this book are as beautiful as the cover.

Guys. I am shook. I shouldn’t even be here writing a review for this right now. I’m still so fragile after reading this masterpiece. I should sleep on it a couple more nights to quiet my mind so I can come to you with a sound, legible review that’s not jumbled and hard to understand.
WELL TOO BAD.

I can’t stop thinking about this book. It’s consuming me. I WANT THE SECOND ONE.

Alright, alright.
So, first of all, this was marketed as “Mulan meets Project Runway”.
Let me just say, that is false.
I get the Mulan aspect. Girl wants to bring honor to her family. Father is in bad shape. She can’t legally go for him because she’s a woman. She cuts her hair, wears boy clothes, and goes anyway. But that’s where the Mulan likeness ends. And I guess I see the Project Runway likeness since it’s a ruthless competition to see who the best tailor is but… yea, no. This book is so much more.

For me this was more a cross between the An Ember in the Ashes series and the Winternight series. Which are two of my ALL TIME FAVORITES. It reminded me of the An Ember in the Ashes series in that the characters made sacrifices regardless of what they wanted for themselves. It reminded me of the Winternight trilogy when it came to the characters and the adventures they set off on in order to save their worlds from war. I was super excited and delighted to see some likeness in the plots and the characters. The ending guys… THE ENDING.

I’m getting ahead of myself…

So Maia is incredibly family oriented. Her family means more to her than anything else. In the beginning, she has the perfect family. Her baba, her mama, and her three brothers Finlei, Sendo, and Keton. Her favorie brother, Sendo, tells her stories of the ocean and Maia longs for a life as a well respected tailor working in a shack by the ocean. But when her mother dies and her two older brothers are sent to the war to fight for the emperor, Maia’s world falls apart and so do her dreams. Her dream becomes only to provide for what’s left of her broken family. Becoming the emperor’s imperial tailor? That would definitely bring honor to her family and would DEFINITELY provide for them for the rest of their days. But she faces sabotage and deceit and there’s something special about Maia, she just doesn’t know it yet.

If you’re like me and like a strong female lead, you’ll love Maia. She’s pretty bold and stubborn in the beginning but the journey she takes hardens her even further. She’s driven by that intense love for her family throughout the entire book.

“Seize the wind,” I whispered. “Don’t become the kite that never flies.”

Edan. Edan, Edan, Edan. Trying to give Morozko from The Winternight trilogy a run for his money. Edan is a close second though. Morozko will always hold a special place in my literary heart. But definitely add Edan to the list of my fictional book boyfriends. He is so mysterious and for a long time you have no idea about his intentions… and remember guys, I have a soft spot for the “bad guys”. But Edan is so much more than a “bad guy”. I loved him a lot.

“Maia,” he pressed, “tell me about your brothers.”
… I swallowed, trying to picture my brothers… It hurt so much to think of them. “Finlei… Finlei was the leader. The brave one.” My voice shook. “Sendo was the dreamer.” … “Keton was the trickster, the funny one… but not so much after he got back from the war.”
“And you?”
“The obedient one.”
“No,” Edan said. “You are the strong one.”
The strong one. The one who held the seams of my family together.
I inhaled, hoping that would be enough.

That. Passage. WRECKED ME. When you read it in context, trust me… it’s going to wreck you too. If it didn’t already just from reading it. I’m still so emotional over this damn book…

The book is told in three parts. In the second part of this story, Maia sets out on an adventure to find the necessary materials to craft three dresses for the emperor’s betrothed. This is my favorite part of the book. The places she sees, the people she meets, the trials she takes on. I couldn’t put this book down AT ALL. Especially during this part of the book. She takes on the blistering desert, a giant snowy mountain, and a dangerous, deep forest. All of these struggles shape her into the person she becomes and it makes me like her even more. She makes SO MANY sacrifices for the people she loves.

This book was everything I want in a fantasy book. Strong and likable characters, adventure, and the world building. I LOVED the world building. This book also had a good bit of history and culture to it that I adored.
As a kid, I was told the love story of the sun and the moon and it was my absolute favorite story. I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember who told it to me or where it came from. THAT STORY IS IN THIS BOOK. A version of it anyway.

I knew the tale. “On the ninth day of the ninth month, the goddess of the moon is reunited with her husband, the god of the sun. Only for this one night each year can they be together. They walk towards each other on a starlit path, a bridge the god of thieves must hold up on his shoulders as punishment for once stealing the stars. When their time has passed, the bridge collapses and the stars bleed into the night, wrought with their pain from being apart.”

I did a small bit of research but I was never able to find where it originated. If you know, drop me a comment and enlighten me! It’s my absolute favorite and I always just assumed it had something to do with Greek mythology. But I would love to dive further into the meat of the history of this story.

Anyway, this book was rich in all of my favorite things fantasy and if you’re a fantasy fan, I highly recommend this one. It was so beautifully written and I’m absolutely in love with this one. It has been added to my “favorites” shelf on Goodreads and I have every intention of reading it again next year before the second book is released. I can’t wait to dive into this series. I have a feeling it’s going to give me the same feels I got from the Winternight trilogy and I’m sooo ready for it.

Day after day and night after night, she spun the dawn and unraveled the dusk. And somehow, I was closer to that legacy than I had ever dared dream.

One last thing before I go. As I’m reading a book, when I listen to music, sometimes those songs take me back to the book when I’m not even reading it. Especially when I latch onto a song in particular. I’ll make that song work with what I read and when I read again, that song is always in the back of my mind. I’m weird, I know…
Anyway, i just thought I would add that particular song that I was playing on repeat during my time reading this book. I’m still playing it on repeat. It’s such a good song. Enjoy. ❤

**Quotes taken from the book are not final and are subject to change.

Keri