for family and love | spin the dawn by elizabeth lim

by - 3:16 PM

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.

 a new favorite
It has been a while since a book has captivated me the same way Spin the Dawn has. With the intricate world that is lush with history and magic, the worldbuilding has all the right pieces that captured my attention. Along with that, I found Maia to be incredibly relatable with her sense of honor and duty to her family and craft. She was a pleasant narrator and her development throughout from young girl to woman highlights her best qualities making her likable and easy to root for.

 mythology brought to life
The story is divided into different overarching chapters which separate the story into three distinct timelines. The second one follows Maia and the Royal Enchanter as they make the journey to collect some supplies for the future empress's wedding gowns. As per the bride's request, Maia has to collect materials straight out of mythology - aka the blood of stars. The writing in this section brought was incredibly magical and probably one of my favorites in the entire novel.

 hate to love is always best
One of my relationship tropes hands down and this was no exception. Hate is a strong word, extreme dislike and distrust are probably better but that's beside the point. Maia and Edan's relationship is full of sharp banter and a lot of wary acceptance but I loved it. Their characters complemented each other well and the more they were willing to open up, the more successful they were in their endeavors. It took a while but they are so precious.

 strength comes in protecting those we love
The entire novel is fueled by Maia's desire to protect her family. She journeys to the emperor's court to compete for the title of imperial tailor - risking everything to provide for her father and brother. Because of her dedication, she finds herself constantly fighting against the cutthroat court environment, never forgetting the core of what's driving her forward. The portrayal of this idea as the center of Maia's character was definitely one of my favorite things.

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