ARC REVIEW | Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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Title: SPIN THE DAWN (THE BLOOD OF STARS #1)

Author: ELIZABETH LIM

Released: 9TH JULY 2019 by KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

Genre: TEENS + YA/FANTASY

REP: Asian Culture | TWs: violence, death (of loved ones), blood, imprisonment, war themes


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.


ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man–even with my eyes closed. yet ask me to tell a lie, and I will stumble and falter to think of one.

i have never had a talent for spinning tales.

WHAT A STORY!! I was actually worried this wasn’t going to live up to the hype of the reviews I’d seen around, but was still intrigued by the plot which is why I requested it on Netgalley. AND I am SO glad I did!!

Maia is the ‘obedient one,’ but really she is the glue that keeps her family together. Like her mother told her, she will be the salvation of them in the end. Maia is such a strong heroine. During her journey to become the imperial tailor, a post only held by men, she will come to find what it really means to be their salvation. She also goes through a lot of internal turmoil on this journey, which allows her to determine what matters to her most. She has to make a lot of hard decisions, but it only increased my love for her. As her story progressed, I found myself cheering her on and hoping things work out for her as best as possible!! This being a series, of course we don’t have an entire resolution; however, a lot of the situations surprised me! I never figured out how the journey would end before Elizabeth told us, which doesn’t happen to me all that often. Several of the other characters are also amazing! Specifically Edan, the Emperor’s Enchanter….

he broke his promise to me. at first I thought it was because the war and magic had blackened his heart, but that is just the way of men. for what is a promise if it’s made to a women?

The writing is absolutely stunning! It draws you in and holds you close while you wind your way through a wonderful tale of adventure, sacrifice, and the beauty of relationships. Elizabeth has given us a stunning tale and I am so appreciative to have received it. One of my favourite scenes is near the end – 88% mark or thereabouts – when Maia and Edan visit a monastery. The conversation between Maia and the monk beside Amana’s spring is beautifully written and heartrending. Pay special attention!

I guess I kind of see the comparison with Mulan – being a story of a girl striving to bring honour to her family in the guise of a man – but Spin the Dawn is a story all its own, as well. I hope you pick it up and love it just as much as myself!

and with that, i fell asleep with the saddest of smiles on my lips.


Thank you so much to Knopf Books for Young Readers via Netgalley for the ARC.

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