A gifted tailor in disguise. Three legendary dresses. The competition of a lifetime.Synopsis for Spin The Dawn
On the fringes of the Great Spice Road, Maia Tamarin works as a seamstress in her father’s shop. She dreams of becoming the best 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 his son and travels to the Summer Palace in his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to save her family and achieve her dream of becoming the imperial tailor. 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 unwelcome 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.
Spin The Dawn is Book 1 of The Blood of The Stars series by Elizabeth Lim, and I have been looking forward to this book for the longest time. The longest. I preordered it the minute it was available to. When it arrived from Books of Wonder utterly stunning, accompanied by the most beautiful swag, character art and a pin, not to mention personalised and signed, I definitely had a little happy squeak.
But first, before we get into it, let’s talk about a misquote that has been used EVERYWHERE. That’s right. I want to talk about “Project Runway meets Mulan”. The original quote best match that I can find was this
“Part epic adventure, part fairy tale, and part Project Runway, SPIN THE DAWN is a thrilling tale as rich as velvet and as exquisite as fine embroidery.”Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere
I’m not sure if it’s because the main character is a Chinese female or just a unwise choice in quote condensing, but Spin the Dawn is not part Mulan, nor does part epic adventure, part fairy tale equal Mulan. If Mulan is what you are after allow me to suggest Reflection, which is the Mulan retelling by Elizabeth Lim for Disney.
Back to our previously scheduled review. Maia Tamarin is the youngest of 4 children and the only daughter of a renowned tailor who struggles to hold his life together after the death of his wife. Maia is the one with the most skill as and desire to be a tailor. She has dreamed of becoming a sought after tailor, so she is the one to step up and continue his work, all the while acting as a mere seamstress. When her oldest 2 brothers are called to war, the younger brother follows, leaving Maia to manage the home and work hard to do so. Only the younger son returns.
When the war is won, a union is proposed. The Emperor Khanujin and the daughter of the opposing war lord, Lady Sarnai. Unfortunately the Imperial Tailor has passed on and a new one must be found to create the wardrobe and wedding dress for Lady Sarnai.
The tailor Tamarin is called upon to attend the palace where 12 tailors will sew wonders in order to obtain the position. As neither her father or brother can go, Maia pretends to be the young Master Tamarin and follow her dream.
I enjoyed the world, religion and mythology of A’landi. Maia’s initial dislike for Edan and her confusion at being flirted with by kitchen staff play perfectly with the intensity of the contest and the impossible final task of crafting the 3 dresses of legend and the deadly journey for materials. I look forward to 2020 when I can find out the results of Maia’s impressive actions, and the consequences of her actions.
Spin the Dawn is available through Knopf Books at Penguin and Unravel the Dusk is set for release next year. More information about Elizabeth Lim books and events can be found here, on twitter, Facebook, and instagram.