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A gifted tailor in disguise.
Three legendary dresses.
The competition of a lifetime.

On the fringes of the Great Spice Road, Maia Tamarin works as a seamstress in the shop of her father, once a tailor of renown. She 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 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 from ruin and achieve her dream of becoming the imperial tailor. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

The competition is cutthroat, and Maia's job is further complicated by the unwelcome attention of the court enchanter, Edan, who seems to see straight through her disguise. But nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three gowns so dangerously beautiful, it will take a quest to the ends of the earth to complete them . . .

Book 1 in the Blood of Stars duology

392 pages, Hardcover

First published July 9, 2019

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About the author

Elizabeth Lim

20 books7,921 followers
Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, "Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that's kinda cool!" But after one of her teachers told her she had "too much voice" in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel -- for kicks, at first, then things became serious -- and she hasn't looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,996 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews · 112k followers
November 29, 2020
It’s a fun concept that I would love to watch as an animated movie or series. I personally would have liked it better if the book hadn’t shifted into a journey narrative in the second half and hadn’t prioritized romance as the main motivation; this felt like a different direction than what we would’ve expected at the beginning, and I don’t think it was effective, especially since the main couple is pretty vanilla and (IMO) not necessary to the story. I wish the book focused more coherently on the main character’s journey in the court, her passion for tailoring, the dicey competition and drama, and her internal journey with grappling her identity as a woman in a world that dismisses them. While I typically like romance and find that it makes me enjoy the story more, having the plot become romance-centered diluted from unique and deeper themes the book could have tried to convey.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews · 87.5k followers
February 8, 2021
I really enjoyed this one! The world was super cool and completely sucked me in. However, I definitely preferred the first half over the second half. The first half focuses on competition and the stakes are high and you get to see the main character try and overcome many obstacles to do what she loves and save her family. It was great. The second half turns into a quest storyline that had more of a romance focus and was just kind of a little boring. I still really liked the book, but that shift took it from being something I loved to being more something I liked. I do definitely think it’s worth the read, but just be warned that the second half is very different than the start, which depending on your tastes might be a positive or negative thing. For me it was more of a negative. One definite positive even for the final half is that the writing is so beautiful.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,466 reviews · 9,621 followers
September 5, 2019
Reread with For Love Of. A Book Group, earned this badge

July Owlcrate Box! Click on the link below the pic to see all of the goodies!


I loved this so much, it went to my favorites list!

Animation: Arthur Redhawk

Let me tell you people! Do not always go by what a summary says! When I read this was a cross between Project Runway and Mulan, I immediately put hitting that pre-order button aside. I'm not into those two descriptions. BUT, I saw it on Netgalley and thought I should take a chance. I'm so glad I did! SPIN THE DAWN is nothing like what I was thinking in that part of the description!

This book was everything for me. Let me try to keep this simple without any spoilers. Hmmm....okay, Maia is a tailor in her own right, but girls are not allowed to become tailors. <-- What?! I was like, are you for real?! Anyhoo, her dad was a famous tailor but since Maia's mom died he's not the same and he has become sickly. (I mean we all get old right?) So Maia is the one running the shop and doing all of the mending. Maia has three brothers but things happen to them so they are not doing any kind of tailoring.

THEN, one day some dude shows up saying Maia's father has to come to try out to become a Royal Tailor to the Imperial Majesty. We all know that's not happening...soooooo.. Maia pretends she is one of her brothers and goes up against some other men (some whom are real jerks) to try to win the spot of Royal Tailor. Maia is not just doing this for herself, she wants to get money to her family.

All kinds of shenanigans ensue and even some people trying to kill people! Geez!

Maia befriends Edan who is the Lord Enchanter and he's a bit of something else too. I wish I could tell you. I might come back with a spoiler section =) Edan takes a liking to Maia because he knows her secret and she's a good person; she has some magic too!

They end up on a quest to seek these amazing things to make dresses out of for the Imperial Majesty's soon to be wife. She doesn't want to be his wife but that's how it goes in these arranged things. Anyhoo, this that and the other happens. I was so happy and then I was sad because I'm not sure what the future is going to hold AND I don't have the next book yet!? Do I want to read the next book? I'm afraid! If I'm still alive, I will be reading it!

I love Maia and Edan so much and that's all that matters!

Happy Reading!

Mel ♥

*Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for giving me a digital copy of this book to read.*

Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,200 reviews · 40.7k followers
July 3, 2022
Eastern mythology dances with rich fairy tale elements, an amazing journey to the sun, moon and stars, lots of amazing dresses created by a gifted artistic tailor and her magical scissor and please don’t forget the heart-throbbing forbidden love story!

How could I not fall in love with this book? And the best thing is I got the sequel (after my regular weekly four rejections from NetGalley, I think I still have some lucky stars shining over me!)

So of course you can imagine I’m making my happy dance on the breakfast table and my husband is watching me in shocked expression, holding his phone to call somebody put me straitjacket in and take me to some mental spa place (that’s what he calls the asylum, they will refresh my nerves with gentle electroshock massages, cute, isn’t it? But I reminded him his Latino dance move after his team won the UEFA championship! He suddenly dropped the phone and climbed on the table to join my dance! A trip to the memory lane always helps to bring joy to us!)

Let’s talk more about book:

This book is hooked you from the first page kind of fast pacing, exciting, riveting reading.

STORY: Maia takes place of his brother by disguising herself in man clothes to compete with the most talented tailors of the empire to change her family’s poor fate and show her talents to win her place as emperor’s tailor. But her competitors are more experienced, ambitious, relentless and playing dirty to take her out of the race (They even ruin her shawl she perfectly designed and later, one of them attacks her to break her hand.)

But luckily the palace’s mysterious and charismatic Enchanter Edan is on her side. He gives her important clues to defend herself and win the competition. He also heals her broken hand. ( Czzzzzz can you feel the sizzling chemistry! I did! They waltz between them with insulting words, teasing comments widened my Cheshire cat smile. Quiet delicious enemies to lovers relationship grows on you. And interestingly their love story is so much better than several romance books I’ve read this year)

So finally our good-hearted, fair, strong, stubborn, talented tailor Maia achieves to eliminate her competitors. But now she has the toughest challenge that nobody succeeded to finish completely. (Because they could not stay alive to finish them) She needs to sew three different dresses: from the laughter of the sun, tears of the moon and blood of the stars. This means her epic fantastic journey begins at this moment ! But don’t worry, his enemies-friends- lovers kind of complicated Enchanter will accompany her through the journey.

Maia is fantastic, talented, brave, easy to relate and love kind of five stared heroine.
And Edan ( he could be heavenly fantasy book boyfriend) is entertaining, witty, loyal, strong, trustworthy hero. I loved his way of treating Maia with respect and unconditional love.

And of course I wholeheartedly loved Maia’ s family. I ached for those brothers, too. I wished Edan could meet with the rest of the family. (See! This book brought out secret romantic and delicate part of me! I loved those couple so much. I can be volunteer to help them for their wedding planning. They’re soooo cuteeee!)

ENDING: Oh boy, that twist! That cliffhanger made me throw all the book towers waiting to be read on my study and immediately start the second book. But at least five books on my list to be finished at first! Dammit!

You’ll ask if you love the book so much, why did you cut one star you cruel, heartless bitch?

Well, I think slowing pacing at the journey parts and late angsty emotional twists, so many sacrifices about the couple have to face to be together were too much dramatic and melodramatic for my taste. At some parts I questioned myself if I was reading an angsty romance or fantasy book? But it’s really tolerable because Edan and Maia are so genuine and unique characters and their love story is so special, memorable.

So as a summary: THIS BOOK, THIS JOURNEY, THOSE CHARACTERS ARE SPECIAL. If you’re die-hard fans of this genre, you shouldn’t skip this book! I love it. Period.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews · 32.5k followers
July 19, 2019
wow wow wow. i am truly blown away by how amazing this story is. the book blurb does this a slight disservice by pitching it as a cross between mulan and project runway. not because it doesnt have those elements, but because this is SO much more than that.

the story is captivating with enthralling writing and charming characters. oh my gosh. edan is one of the wittiest characters i have read in a while. his banter with maia is such a delight to read. from start to finish, i was entertained with every page.

but what really impressed me is the blend of cultures. the world is an array of different people and traditions and i love how this captures that so well. this story richly mixes the folklore of both east asian and middle eastern cultures and creates a vibrant setting, perfect for maia and her adventure. i love how this didnt just stick to one, like most stories do, but expanded beyond that. it made for quite an enchanting world to read.

i am so desperate to get my hands on the next book - if only i could find my own enchanter to make it happen!

5 stars
Profile Image for Angelica.
805 reviews · 1,127 followers
March 5, 2021
Can I sue for false advertisement? This book was advertised as Mulan meets Project Runway, two things I love. So, I was pretty sad, and yet not all the surprised when this ended in disappointment.

Aside from the fact that the main character pretends to be a man, there isn’t much about this story that resembles that of Mulan. And only the first third of the book actually resembles Project Runway. So, what is this book about?

Mainly, it’s about a tailor and an enchanter/magician/Jinn? going on a pointless adventure in order to find impossible materials to make a magical dress for a spoiled and petty girl determined to not marry an emperor.

Literally, the entire plot hung on the fact that Princess Sarnai decided she was going to postpone her wedding by making life difficult for everyone and asked Maia to create three impossible dresses made of sunlight, moonlight, and the blood of stars.

Even the characters point out the ridiculousness of it several times in the story.

“I wanted to reach unto my trunk and rip Lady Sarnai’s dresses to shreds. They were the cause of everything- if I hadn’t gone on this journey to make them, none of this would have happened.”

And then again.

“Lady Sarnai’s damned dresses. They were the reasons everything had gone wrong”

Basically, if Sarnai had been a little less out to complicate everyone’s lives and asked for a regular dress, or like a shirt or a jacket or literally anything else, the later 2/3 of this book would not have happened.

Most of the book took place on the road as Maia and Edan, our resident “enchanter” and love interest, try to find “sunlight so pure it can be spun…moonlight so dense it can be woven…and the blood of stars”.

That means that the entire book is driven by these two characters and their interactions. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this if I had loved these characters.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t dislike these characters. I just didn’t particularly care for them or their adventure. Maia was too passive. Nothing at all like Mulan. She didn’t make the story happen. Things in the story simply happened to her and she reacted to it. As for Edan, I don’t really have much to say. He was pretty alright, I guess?

So, maybe its because I’ve read too much YA in my 22 years of life. Maybe I’m just not impressed as easily as I once was. Maybe these characters just weren’t that interesting. Who knows?

The point is, I had the same blank expression the entire time I read. When they were in danger when they were happy when they were using their magical powers. I simply didn’t care.

That said, I kinda liked the romance of it. It felt a little rushed, especially since Maia kept pointing out that she knew literally nothing about Edan’s past, but it was cute enough. Edan was really sweet. I’m glad this didn’t go the way most YA tends to and give us an a**hole love interest that eventually develops feelings and starts behaving like a decent human. That’s kinds how I thought this was going to go in the beginning. Thankfully, Edan was always a really nice guy.

In the end, I didn’t dislike this book. It was fine. I’m certain that many people will like it. In fact, many people already do, according to all the positive Goodreads reviews. If you’re one of those people, I am glad. The book isn’t bad and does have some interesting moments. I just personally didn’t care for it. I also don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel. But also, I probably still might.
Profile Image for clem.
520 reviews · 372 followers
December 10, 2019
2 Angry cunt stars. (Yes, cunt Clem is back and I'm about to burn the house down.)

Instagram | rant on youtube


and non-gender conforming folks, welcome to another episode of "How the hell did this get published?", staring Spin the Dawn and yours truly. Please take a seat, grab yourself a drink, and hold on tight to your grandma’s underwear....because shit is about to get serious.

SYNOPSIS: Some random girl from the north of somewhere (I can’t, for the life of me, tell you where) likes to sew clothes in her dad’s old sewing shop. Apparently, her dad used to be famous and, 20 years later, some random dude--who we never see again--knocks on her doorstep and requires the father’s presence in court to participate in some competition to become the royal tailor. But the dad can’t go because he’s a drunk and the daughter can’t go because she’s not a man, so she disguises herself as her brother and impersonates him in court. She wins the competition and becomes the royal tailor. Now she’ll have to keep the charade of her being a man...and she’ll be under threat of being executed forever!
[spoilers and severe cringe ahead.]


1. So, we need to talk about this trend of having the main character in Asian fantasy having to “crossdress” to survive, but who never questions their gender identity because it’s so outrageous to even think gender identity can be fluid or not cis. I’m not saying that I want every crossdresser to be trans, I just want the perception of one’s gender expression to be discussed in novels.
This trend is just an example of how unoriginal this book is. I’ve read 5 fantasy YA like this already in 2019 and I can’t, for the life of me, differentiate them from one another.

2. The worldbuilding. One word:


It’s non-existent. If my bestfriend hadn’t told me that this was an Asian fantasy, I wouldn’t have known. I can’t say where this book takes place. What kind of government it has. What religions are represented (or invented). How the magic works. Who are the gods. What kind of creature exists. Why are the two sides at war… Nope, I have literally no clue.


3. The characters. I dead-ass caught myself calling Mia by the name Alina for the majority of this book (the love interest being the disgusting Mal obvi). That goes to show how well developed the characters are. Whenever the female character showed a bit of personality she either passed out or needed saving. Seriously, we’re being told that Mia is “so strong and smart”, but all she does is sleep, complain, and gush over some random hobo.


4. The romance.


Just kidding. I have rarely been more turned off in my entire life. It was as if I was reading the script of the worst Lifetime movie ever made. The cringiness of the dialogues broke the levels of the awkwardness of After (the movie). I had chills during some of the dullest and impersonal romantic dialogues I’ve ever read in my life.
Here are some examples:
“You deserve someone who can be with you. That someone isn’t me.”
“Kissing you was wrong. It was a moment of weakness.”

And many more that I can’t even look at without gagging.

In other words, just because you can write one word after the other doesn’t mean that you should write a book. (Maybe I should start to listen to my own advice.)

Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews · 2,652 followers
May 20, 2021
(3.5 ★’s)

Spin the Dawn, in one sentence: A tailor Mulan through a royal competition alongside treacherous masters, a journey through magical, perilous lands for an impossible task, and a love story that overflows your heart.

This retelling is fun, sweet, rather cloyingly romantic, and bursting at the seams with unique myths and magic, carrying a world unprecedented, splattered with a delicious dosage of knitting and prettily sparkling dresses (oh my) while failing miserably at action scenes (oh no).

“War comes at a great cost,” Lady Sarnai said, “and from that sacrifice comes peace. Sometimes we must let go of what we value for the future of our country. Be it a beautiful fan, or our honor, or our lives. In the end, we all belong to the gods anyway.”

Imagine a singer, inconspicuous but striking. She stands and starts out her song with a low tone. There’s no music. You have a moment of doubt, but then her voice settles deep in your bones. You sit up straight, but she doesn’t care—she’s been already swept up and away from your mortal world and into the magic of the melody. The enchanting rhythm.

She paints a tapestry with her words, she plays with your emotions, she awes you with her mystical talent. Such mastery. Singers struggle for years to own those low sounds and yet, here she is, the notes flying from her lips with such strength, obeying her with such devotion. You think, what an enchantress, a queen of this art.

And she takes her precious time: she dances from F3 up to A3 and back down to B2, jumps on C4 and sweeps back to B3 and you catch your breath and you think you are dreaming! You are in awe of her her mystical voice. You smile. You sigh. There is a sneaky little teardrop of love rolling down your cheek. Your poor heart swells.

Then she goes higher. She grasps at E5 and you cringe. She tiptoes back down to the lower notes, you smile. You silently kick yourself for your reaction; all is well. You are daydreaming and humming and maybe falling in love...until there’s a screech. An earsplitting, blood-all-over-the-floor scream. You jump out of your seat and watch her, that blessed singer, tear down the foundation of her song. You watch her stumble from one high note to the next, trying to leash the wildness of that untamed horse and you feel like crying.

It is like listening to the disaster of your life.
To the destruction of something special.
To the sound of potential as its fuse catches fire and explodes, gone.

The singer sings, unaware. She runs back down and dwells on her lower notes again. It is as if nothing happened. Again, you are in awe of her mystical voice. Again, you smile. Again, you sigh. But there is no sneaky little teardrop of love rolling down your cheek. Your heart no longer swells...

Our sweet singer is Elizabeth Lim, her art not singing but spinning tales. Her song is Spin the Dawn, a swan song that fails.

“People will see what they want to see.”

CW ➾ sexism, threat of rape, and (slight) slavery.


In a land where the Sun, the scorching cruel god, and his glamorous wife, the Moon, meet only one night a year through a bridge of stars that collapse and bleed... In a land where myths and magic roam the halls of kings and sneak into the hands of tailors, filling them with greed... And in a land where a girl cannot become a master or a tailor or run a shop and is nothing but a wife, expected to concede... There lives a girl who could not spin a tale for the love of her, but can spin the finest yarn, and spin the dawn.

“You are meant for more, Maia.”
I turned away. “How can I be? I’m not a man.”

Maia Tamarin has a dream—one she tucks close to heart, sewing it there, hidden within her chest so full of pain, because she is afraid they would mock her, laugh at her...such an impossible dream: to become the master tailor for the emperor!

That is, until her ailing father is summoned to court to be one of the twelve famed and talented masters competing for the very job she has dreamt of, night and day. To spare her family from ruin and achieve the dream she knows she is talented enough to deserve, Maia risks her life and dresses up as her limping brother, setting off for a palace where her lying, fellow competitors would do anything to prove their art is superior and win the contest.

“Some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably.”

But nothing is as simple as that—if beating a band of treacherous old men in a competition while maintaining her disguise can be called simple; because there waits a Lord Enchanter who seems to know just how to get under her skin, and an impossible task to sew the sun, the moon, and the stars into three dresses that has her leaving for a long journey across perilous lands, deep into deserts and up, up, up, until she reaches the sky.

Is This a Retelling of Mulan?

This book was accused of having nothing in common with Mulan except a girl pretending to be a boy. I kept that in mind when I started reading, and my eyebrows rose a little higher every time I found a parallel, to the point where they were lost somewhere in my hair—I no longer had eyebrows :|

Here is my evidence for why this is a true retelling of the original tale, The Ballad of Hua Mulan (the parts in italic tlare the retelling;):


Good: Creative Writing & Mastery of Low Notes

Lim’s writing is easy yet gorgeous, and works best in the slower parts of the story (meaning not action scenes). Her mastery over weaving a tale exquisitely and slowly really makes Spin the Dawn special, with precious moments of unpretentious beauty (eg: We melted into each other until the dawn slid into dusk, and the sun paled into the moon, and the stars, once lost, became found again.) AND slightly pretentious beauty that remains sweet and YA (eg: I knew then that we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn’t be undone. I wouldn’t let them.).

But what I loved was how uniquely the tailoring was not only written in itself, making me want Maia to sew a dress for me as well, but was also deeply ingrained in the writing style, constantly used as a simile, filling Maia’s thoughts, having her live and breathe in knitting and sewing and spinning. It served to fully wrap me in the soft silk of the tale.

[Climbing] isn’t so different from sewing, I said to myself. Pretend you’re a needle stitching up the mountain, trying to find the way to make a perfect seam. One wrong stitch, and the fabric of the mountain will be torn.

Bad: A Singer Who Can't Pull Off High Notes

The biggest failing of Lim’s writing in this book was the moment where the threat of death hung like an executioner’s sword above your neck—but it tuned out the sword was dull like a bull, not whetted with skill, and the executioner a clumsy one who doesn’t know how to hold a sword, let alone chop off heads with it. I’m talking about chaptes 30 & 31.

The threats? The fights? It felt like a 10-year-old had tried to write a dramatic scene with the stupidest villains and dialogues, senseless and laughable action all crammed up together. It was a mess. I could not believe the same author who had written all those steady slow-burning but mystifying chapters had also written these two. She owned the low slow notes most writers can’t pull off, but she could not, for the life of her, write a fast paced part without it seeming like a vehicle that had lost control, reeling off the road, a crash quite imminent.

Bad: Things That Made No Sense

I cannot deny that there were parts which were highly unrealistic. I have no complaints about Maia passing as a boy, because she was noted to not have a very girlish voice, and since no one really expected a girl, their prejudices running so deep that they didn’t even believe a woman is capable of sewing well, they only saw a girlish boy. And I should add that young boys can sound like girls, as we see it’s women who voice young boys in animations. Thus her voice could easily be excused as “not having matured” which is plausible because she is small and has no facial hair.

BUT. Yes, but. There are implausible parts as well; such as how Maia, a girl with zero combat skills, so swiftly escapes the hold of a soldier while simultaneously (a) jabbing her elbow into his side, (b) grabbing the hilt of his dagger, and (c) kneeing him in the groin. I’m sorry, have you ever been in a fight? To achieve that level of skill and the ability to not fumble around in a fight and so smoothly and quickly coordinate all the muscles of your body to overpower, spin, jab, grab, and kick all at the same time...well, you need to sweat through training sessions for more years straight. How you doing? Wanna fight and test it out?

My biggest problem tho, is the scissors:

So, while this was a great abstract idea, Elizabeth Lim made no effort to visualise it. Which, next to how the writing lagged and stumbled and fumbled in fast paced parts (AKA the high notes), crushed my hopes and dreams ruthlessly.


Maia is a girl who lives to sew but cannot sew because she is a girl, and still she does not give up, remaining bold, compassionate, and willing to fight for herself or those she loves—she is always fighting, and that’s something I appreciate.

“To the West, I am known as His Most Illustrious; to the East, I am His Most Illuminating; and in every other corner of the world, I am His Most Formidable.”

Her love interest, Edan, I wanted to punch—really, really punch. That of course means I love this hilarious, precious guy; basically Rhysand in the Darkling’s role. Though unfortunately he acted like a teenage boy even with 500+ years of experience under his belt.

There is also Lady Sarnai who grabbed my attention with her unyielding attitude, as well as Keton and Longhai who were just sweethearts.


“It is an illusion to assume we choose whom we love. I cannot change how I feel about you. I would move the sun and the moon if it meant being with you.”

Wonderful family dynamics and brother-sister bonds truly added a special spice to the novel because the romance slightly failed me—for 60% of the book, the two kept on with their hilarious banter and I was shouting at them to kiss. Then they did...and I wanted them to stop. They were cute together, yes, but now they were only kissing. The whole book took a back seat to them making out, constantly, without stop. And a journey that could’ve been way more explored was ruined and glossed over.


The world of Spin the Dawn is the best part of it: rich with traditions and brimming with long titles of the likes of “Khagan of Kings, Son of Heaven, Favored of Amana, Glorious Sovereign of A’landi.” (keep going), overflowing with myths of gods like the Sun with his domain in the desert, burning away everything you have, from your hope to your dignity, to your very life.

This is a world where magic demands a price and balance is maintained. It confronts sexism and how much of the difference in behaviour between genders is by nurture rather than nature. And, it uses the three trials of body, mind, and soul, (a popular way of viewing human nature) which is similar to both the Tripartite theology in Christianity, and the body and dual soul of the Chinese.


Book playlist: Spotify URL

Books in series:
⤳ Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1) ★★★✯☆
Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars, #2) ★★✯☆☆
Profile Image for Vibur (hiatus).
42 reviews · 230 followers
February 17, 2023
(Yeah, rant alert. Sorry?)

First off, this was a rigmarole of monotony and meaningless repetition (I dnf'ed this, so whether or not it's the same for the latter half of the novel, I don't give a shit). I mean, aside from the protagonist stitching some pretty clothes and all, nothing happened—or, at least, it felt as if nothing happened. Scenes that should read dramatic are more or less a pallid, uninspired smudge of print on paper, and scenes that read dramatic ('cause people who aren't the protagonist are pointlessly petty to the protagonist, 'cause, yeah, drama) add no meaning at all to the plot.
And the writing made it all the worse.

Let me say it straight, the writing is very, very tell-heavy. The author has an obsessive need to go over the goddarn obvious, all the while glossing over the vital, vital details. More often than not, the writing tells of the doing being done, the feeling being felt, the realising being realised—
(Hmm, what was that, Maia? "It wasn't a dream" now? Oh, what a surprise, gasp. I'd have never guessed!)
—add to that pedestrian phrasing, an appalling overuse of periods and aggressively vapid repetitions, and what should be vivid, vital scenes become nothing more than clumsy, murky sketch-outs. There's no mood, no atmosphere to keep the plot afloat.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, the characters are nothing but skin plastered on top of chopsticks, tottering about the place—and again, it's because of the telling. It gives no voice, no vitality of characterisation. The writing's telling me how there's something oh-so "sly" about this character (guess who!) and there is nothing to show for it, that is, other than the "his-irises-of-shimmering-mischief-and-other-mesmerising-shit".

What's more, the worldbuilding is an implausibly inept mess, and the settings are more eighth-assed than half-assed. This got pitched to me as "Chinese-inspired", and while I am short-sighted to some degree, it's not as if I can't see all the same how painfully uninspired this is (suuure, there's bits of foreign foodstuffs here and there, but the rest of the setting reads as if it's blurred-out).
Oh, and the plot goes off in an entirely different, entirely disorienting direction in the latter half (a desert, a goddarn desert!). No lie, there is nothing at all writ-ten on page, not a single tiny-font footer or anything, to slightly hint at there being a desert in this "Chinese-inspired" world, that is, until the protagonist's in said goddarn desert (ah, worldbuilding at its finest).
And it is at this point the reader—or at least what's left of her, as she is now nothing more than a thing of dead flesh and withered, hollowed-out dreams—decides, all too sadly and resignedly, that enough is enough and that she hastoletthisgo.

DNF'ed at 50%


note: haha sorry don't kill me for this rating thanks
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
427 reviews · 1,716 followers
September 29, 2021
Project Runway meets Mulan was accurate indeed.

The first half of the book went surprisingly fast. The pace was great and there was never a dull moment. I didn't expect the competition to move so quickly.

The second half of the book was packed with even more action as Maia goes on a journey and I was completely hooked and invested in Maia's story.

It took me a while to connect with the other characters but in the second half my love for Eden, the Lord Enchanter, grew.

The writing and descriptions were beautiful. I loved how the clothing was described, it made me wish Maia could make something for me!

I think this book ended off well, and I am most definitely looking forward to the sequel. I am filled with anticipation for what is in store for Maia and Edan and I would love to learn more about Lady Sarnai.

Buddy read with Tiffany🌷

ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Anissa.
67 reviews · 895 followers
January 27, 2019
One word: WOW.

This book is pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway but it was really so much more than that. I loved it!
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews · 4,895 followers
March 3, 2019
Wow what a ride!

This book was really fun, and there's so much I loved about it.

First of all, I have to rave about the world building. I loved everything about it - deeply woven culture meets beautifully artistic magic. Really cool folklore and mythology. I'm DYING to see some fan art! Honestly, this alone made the book worthy of five stars. I never wanted to leave the world. And the story - pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway - totally fits. The first bit gave me definite Mulan vibes! But then the story takes on a TOTALLY new direction. In fact, I'd say it changes directions several times, and I definitely wasn't complaining (more below).

We start with Maia, who in order to save her sick father and provide for her family, takes her father's place by dressing like a boy to meet the Emperor's summons. At the palace, there's a competition to be come the Emperor's tailor - but the tailor must impress his fiancé first. But as the plot progresses, it becomes so much more. One thing after another, and all the sudden, Maia is thrust on a journey to craft three impossible dresses - one made of the sun, another of the moon, and lastly, one made from the blood of stars. (And don't worry - she isn't going on the journey alone. Wink wink.)

I did like the characters. Maia has the biggest heart - and she's tough! I especially loved Edan though. Some of you saw my status update - in the beginning, he totally felt like a baby Darkling! He's the Emperor's Enchanter, and has a soft spot for Maia. But as you learn more about him, he becomes more and more unique. I loved trying to figure out his mysteries! The only issue I had was trying to follow some of the character's motivations at times, but I'll admit I was pretty under-the-weather while reading this, so it might have just been me being a bit delusional.

I will say this book reads a bit younger - perfect for teens (which is the intended audience). So much of YA these days feels way older, but this one felt very appropriate for the audience. It reads very clean (meaning it's easy to follow) and the main character actually acts like a teenager (and I don't mean that in a bad way at all)! Honestly, this book was a breath of fresh air.

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Profile Image for Arini.
772 reviews · 1,620 followers
July 21, 2020

#1 Spin the Dawn — 3.75 Stars
#2 Unravel the Dusk — 2 Stars

I didn’t know a tale about knitting and sewing competition could be this F A S C I N A T I N G! This book was so fun, exciting, and full of adventure. Not to mention, unique and magical. Just so you know, I’ve never watched Mulan or The Project Runaway. The only thing I know about the former is that it’s about a girl pretending to be a guy. And in that regard, this book does have that aspect. Anything else, I can’t really comment on. Regardless of that, this book is still pretty special. Even if I’d known well both of those stories this book was inspired by, I would most likely gonna love it anyway.


It was such a delight reading about the characters in this book. Maia is bold and unrelenting. She has doubts, but she never gives up. She also doesn’t hesitate in making sacrifices for the people she loves. Edan is, well, who wouldn’t be charmed by someone with his wit? He’s hilarious. For an enchanter who’s lived for more than 500 years, he still seemed rather boyish though. Lady Sarnai is an interesting character. She likes to give our girl a hard time. I’m curious to know more about her and what had made her to be so bitter all the time.


The family portrayal in this book was so sweet and heartwarming. Although we only get to see it in the beginning and at the end, it was heartfelt. I have only sisters in real life, and reading about older brothers always fills me with longing and a bit of envy. Meanwhile, the romance was so cute. The banter was extremely amusing. It got a little corny after our two main leads became aware of each other’s feelings. I’d almost wished they’d just keep bantering and never kissed cause they got so annoyingly lovey dovey together.

World building

The world in this book is wonderful. It’s full of traditions and myths and legends of the gods. There are even spiritual creatures, like ghosts and demons. You can feel the Middle Eastern/Asian (Chinese) influences. The magic is a little flimsy in my opinion. But I loved the idea of how one must sacrifice their freedom to become an enchanter. I also loved the concept behind the trials of the body, mind, and soul.

Things that don’t make sense

The scissors! How can a pair of scissors turn a piece of fabric into a full sewn dress? I know it’s enchanted. It can sew and paint?! Basically it can do all kinds of sewing and knitting work. Also, anything to do with the mind, body, and soul trials, I had a bit of a hard time imagining it. For example, climbing up the mountain to get the blood of stars. How does the laughter of the sun, tears of the moon, and blood of the stars even look like? I mean, I gather they just look like tiny sparkly sprinkles, but do they really?

Overall thoughts :

Spin the Dawn is an enchanting read that captivates readers with its adventurous tale of chasing myths and legends, stepping outside the confines of societal norms, as well as fighting for the people you care about. The characters are lovely to read. The plot is adequately engaging. I found the beginning and the middle to be thoroughly mesmerizing while the ending to be a little sloppy. The world inside it is a true sight to behold while, on the other hand, sometimes you might find yourself struggling to visualize certain parts of the book bcs the author doesn’t give quite vivid elaboration.
Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
616 reviews · 499 followers
March 15, 2021
Actual rating: 4,5 stars

First of all, let’s take a moment to admire this gorgeous book cover, because (in my humble opinion) it is one of the most (if not the most) beautiful covers of 2019.
And the best part: it pictures perfect the story that’s in the pages.

Spin the Dawn was one of the best fantasy books I read in general (but keep in mind, I haven’t read many of them).
I love how it was pitched as Mulan meets Project Runaway, because that is a perfect description, and overall I think a lot of effort was put into this book as a product, and I feel like it deserves even more recognition then it got.

I love how the world building was presented to us readers very slowly, step by step, and I can say I understand most of if, which is not often the case when it comes to fantasy.
This world was inspired by Chinese mythology and folklore. I am not familiar with it to be perfectly honest (but I would like to learn about it) and I can’t say how accurate it actually was or was it authentic, but from the standpoint of view of a reader who read this book as an entertainment tool, I can say that I really enjoyed every aspect of Chinese mythology and folklore, and I even learned something I didn’t know before (even though I think that wasn’t the goal of the novel).

I liked Maia as a narrator. She was not only likeable but also really easy to connect with.
The story is written in first person.

In this book women have almost no rights and are treated as property (like it was the case in the past), and I feel like Maia represents one of first females who opposed that.
I hope in next books more women will follow her steps.
Even though this is a fantasy, and we live in time when women have so much more rights then those in this story, it was still easy to understand and even identify with these women to some point.

We can say that the book has two main parts: an introduction to the world and characters, and the second, the journey.

I liked the second part so much more then the first one, because I already was so invested into the story, but also because we get to see some love development in it.

My favorite part of this whole master piece was love connection between Maia and her love interest. I understand why it could be controversial to some because he is much older then her (even though he doesn’t look that way) but I ship them together to the moon and back.

The last thing I’ll mention will be action scenes that were pretty intense, but as it usually happens to me when it comes to fast paced action and fight scenes, my brain turned off at some parts and left me confused.
I don’t know why is that, but it feels like my brain can’t process it when so many things happen all at once.
Thank God there are always slow parts after them where you can see the aftermath once again.

Overall, I really enjoyed Spin the Dawn. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate it.

I would highly recommend this one to ya fantasy lovers.

Read this and more reviews on my blog https://bookdustmagic.com
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
999 reviews · 782 followers
February 15, 2022
Unpopular Opinion Coming-in

A slow, lackluster attempt at a Mulan retelling. I make the comparison only because, if I remember correctly, that's how this was originally pitched.

Here I think we might have another case of it's not you, it's me. Because the writing itself was not bad. Yet I struggled with this book much of the time. It was just downright boring to me at certain points.

I did not care about the characters. I did not care about the journey and the romance did little for me overall. But of the three, the romance was probably the best part. Because at least we got some flirty banter and a few sweet moments. Still, that was not enough to save this book for me.

So if you're looking for a story that revolves around a Mulan-Esque character that involves embroidery and is infinitely more interesting you're better off watching the Chinese drama Legend of Hua Mulan (2013).

I'm disappointed, to say the least. Because I really wanted to love this. I was looking forward to a bad-ass Asian heroine who would make me root for her. And sadly, for me, Maia is not it. I'm sure some will enjoy this slower-paced sort of story, but I am not one of those people.

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I received a free ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thank you to the Knopf Books for providing me with a copy to read and review!
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews · 1,948 followers
July 7, 2019
4.5 stars

Hey so uh quick question.....who thought they should leave me on my own to figure out that the ending would end like: that and HURT like: that.

Spin the Dawn follows Maia Tamarin, a female seamstress who is struggling to support herself and her father after her brothers went to war. When her father is invited to the Emperor’s palace to compete for the position of the royal tailor, she takes his place and dresses as a boy.

Maia takes on several other magical tailors, meets the alluringly mysterious enchanter, and embarks on a nearly impossible quest to retrieve the laughter of the sun, tears of the moon, and blood of the stars. Throughout all this, she must keep her identity a secret and learn how to use the magical scissors her grandfather passed down to her.

I knew then we were like two pieces of cloth, sewn together for life. Our stitches couldn’t be undone. I wouldn’t let them.

The most striking thing about Spin the Dawn is how absolutely gorgeous its writing is. Even just “the laughter of the sun, tears of the moon, and blood of the stars” is so beautiful and metaphorical, and the rest of the book is just as stunning. This is definitely one of those cases where the writing is just as pretty as the cover!!

As much as I love the writing, I love Maia even more. She’s just such a strong character, in so many ways. She risks everything by posing as a boy to become the royal tailor, and she never gives up even when given an impossible task to complete. She’s determined to do whatever she can, in order for her loved ones to survive, and it’s so beautiful and inspiring to read.

Edan, the enchanting magician that Maia meets, is also a character I adored! Their (flirty) banter back and forth was so much fun to read, and I loved the two’s dynamic. I also just really loved his backstory—sassy brooding magical characters are 100% destined to be my eternal weakness.

And of course, the romance between them had me swooning. I honestly don’t know how else to describe my feelings about it besides my own wise words:

Edan: you make me remember a part of myself I’d forgotten

I just really loved their relationship, and it especially killed me at the end of the book! I do want to say that there is a weird age difference (as in, he’s like 500 years old, and she is… not), and some people found that to be an issue for them. I personally wasn’t that bothered by it, but still wanted to let you all know!

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?

I don’t normally talk about worldbuilding in my reviews, because it’s not something I really notice unless it stands out, but the worldbuilding in this book really did stand out. I really loved the incorporation of magic and demons and ghosts, and even a magic carpet. The book is inspired from Chinese mythology, and while I don’t know enough Chinese mythology to have recognized it in the writing, I know it means a lot to Chinese readers and I’m happy that it was included.

The themes in this book were also very strong. Of course, the significance of family is emphasized, with how determined Maia is to help her family survive, and that made me so happy to see. And it’s also about Maia carving out her own place in the world, chasing the ambitions and dreams that only men have been allowed to have before her.

Also, can I talk about the ending? I’m going to talk about the ending. I was not expecting it at all, and as much as it destroyed me, I loved it? From the way the book ends, and from what I read of the second book from an excerpt in my ARC, the sequel is sure to be dark, and I am extremely excited.

If it wasn’t obvious, I truly loved this book. It’s gorgeous, inside and out, and so enjoyable to read that I didn’t want to put it down. If you’re looking for a beautiful Asian fantasy with compelling characters, I highly recommend this!

:: rep :: all-Asian cast (Chinese)

:: content warnings :: violence, death (of loved ones), blood, imprisonment, ableism in old ARCs

Thank you to Knopf and the author for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a spot on this blog tour! This did not affect my opinions in any way. All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
Profile Image for Joel Rochester.
62 reviews · 17.3k followers
December 2, 2020
Whilst I did enjoy the premise for this novel, I felt like I had been slightly misled by the synopsis. The competition only lasts for 1/3 of the novel, whilst the dresses are separate from the competition completely. Also, I found that the latter half of the novel took more of a focus towards the romance between Maia and Edan as opposed to Maia's journey, which felt secondary to none. I wish the novel focused more on Maia's journey and her love for tailoring and the competition actually lasted the entire book instead and helped make more of a commentary of a woman trying to find her place in the world of men. There were attempts to do so, but I feel as though they didn't fully work. All in all, I liked this book, but I had expected more from it.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews · 3,277 followers
April 25, 2019
The first half of Spin the Dawn is Disney's Mulan with war taking place at sewing stations as opposed to a battlefield. Maia Tamarin is in competition with eleven talented tailors for an honored position in the Summer Palace. This portion of the book is intriguing and imaginative with Maia facing increasingly difficult challenges to do with unorthodox materials.

While the midpoint hinges on a thrilling new challenge for Maia, the second half of the book makes a significant departure from its first half. Readers are drawn into what feels like an entirely different book, one set in the wide outdoors that sees Maia going head-to-head with many familiar objects or entities from fantasy and lore . Maia is focused and determined throughout the second half, but she's wholly dependent on a handsome young man, which effectively undermines her admirable independence during the first half of the book.

The second half of the book offers very little conflict between characters, with tasks being completed too neatly and perilous encounters resolved with ease. The dynamic between Maia and her escort is all-too-familiar and unforgivably predictable. The final chapters offer a hasty conclusion and leave one plotline unresolved as Lim clearly intends to write more books in the series.

Playful, homespun, and romantic. Spin the Dawn is sure to appeal to fans of Disney's Mulan.
The humming in my head was louder now. I looked down, feeling a strange trembling at my side. At first I thought it came from my scissors, but that was impossible, so I ignored it.

Then they started glowing.

I grasped them to snip a loose thread and found that I was unable to put them down. Suddenly, in my mind's eye I could see the shawl, completed - just as I had sketched it. But there was no way I could accomplish it in the hours remaining.

But you can, a voice assured me. My voice, but more confident somehow.

[. . .]

Impossible as it appeared, the scissors not only cut but embroidered. The thin silver blades split and gathered my threads and flosses to dance through the silk, embroidering intiricate flowers and birds, trees, and mountains with precision and elegance.

With magic.*

*Note: Quote taken from an Advanced Reader's Copy.
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
761 reviews · 2,337 followers
July 31, 2022
“I want you to know that some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably."
"Don't all journeys change you?"
"It isn't the same." He leaned forward. "I, too, once journeyed beyond the stars."
"What did you find?"
His voice turned lethally soft. "That it's just the beginning.”

You know that feeling you get when you start a book and immediately know it's going to be one of those books you're going to absolutely adore?
Spin the Dawn was it for me from the very beginning and I'm not sure there's a particular reason for it, because I loved every aspect of this book.

Spin the Dawn tells us the story of Maia Tamarin who, after a devastating war, pretends to be one of her brothers in a pretty sexist competition to become royal tailor and help her family recover financially.
Between challenges, sabotages and the constant fear of her true identity being exposed, Maia does her best to survive and bring her family honor. Helped by her talent, a pair of enchanted scissors and the charming magicial Edan, she finds out that being the court tailor doesn't mean she only gets to pack beautiful dresses for the emperor and his betrothed and spend time with the ones she loves, but that her journey is much more complicated and dangerous than she'd ever imagined. And that it's only just begun.

As I mentioned before, there isn't one thing I didn't love about this book, so let me start by listing the things I loved a tiny little more than the others.
Lim's writing, for one, is exquisite and I hands down can say the same about the plot. The story flows so well there's not enough time to feel bored, because something's always happening with every turn of the page.
I shamefully admit I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to Asian's culture and myths, so I can't say whether the stories and legends mentioned in this book are actually part of the Chinese folklore or if the author made them up, but they definitely were the perfect addition to the story because they surrounded the whole thing with an additional fairytale-esque halo. I especially loved the one about the Moon and the Sun being able to just be together on a particular date and for a short period of time. It reminded me a little of one of my mom's favorite movies, Ladyhawke, and it broke my heart the very same way the movie did.

Maia is an incredible main character and for once I didn't mind the first-person narration, because being in her head wasn't exhausting or monotonous. I adored the dynamics between her and the rest of her family and was really intrigued by her interactions with other secondary characters.
Another proof Maia is a fantastic protagonist is how malleable yet coherent she is. Take her relationship with Edan, for example, I was pleased to see their chemistry worked both when they were flirting and when they sealed the proverbial deal.
Speaking of Edan, I hope I'll get to see more of him in the sequel. Behind the sarcasm and the wisdom, he's a gentle soul with a dorky side. Definitely far from the broody type I usually go for in books, but I'm not complaining because he was a breath of fresh air in the fantasy book boyfriends scenario.

Now, I made my point and this book is nearly perfect. I say nearly because, despite the super well deserved five stars up there, there's just this quibble that will have me rounding this down half a star.
The romance.
Ughhhhh, I can't help but feel ungrateful because Maia and Edan are extremely cute and their almost entirely angst-free romance came as a gift out of nowhere. At the same time, though, I think it's precisely because I'm used to working harder for my ships when it comes to books while their romance was written in the stars right from the start and went from 2 to lets-do-the-do in the matter of a couple pages.
Don't get me wrong, they were sexy af and I'd give a non-necessary organ to read their sweetest interactions for the first time again, but I just wished it hadn't been so...quick.

I'm gonna hide the rounded-down ratings at the bottom of this review and keep shouting out loud how much I've loved this.
I'm so glad I picked this up at the bookstore instead of deciding for a cheaper hardback. It's not only beautifully illustrated, but it also has a double dust jacket and lilac tinted pages.
I mean...how could I ever resist when this book is the proof books love their readers as much as readers love them?

Profile Image for Navessa.
10 books · 7,515 followers
March 18, 2019

I’m not gonna lie, I jammed that “Add to TBR” button the second I saw this cover. And then I read “Project Runway meets Mulan” and I turned into the physical embodiment of the I Have a Mighty Need meme.

So, does this live up to the hype? For me, hell yeah.

This is a sweeping, romantic saga steeped in mystery and lore that went a long way toward rekindling my love for the young adult fantasy genre.

The world building in this Chinese-inspired land was phenomenal. The Project Runway portion of the story is mostly constrained to the grounds of the Emperor’s palace, and it’s filled with court intrigue set against the backdrop of a vibrant city bursting with life. The second half of the book is no less exciting. Because it turns into more of a quest-driven adventure romp full of danger and high thrills out on the open road.

Maia is everything I look for in a heroine. She’s driven, intelligent, talented, brave, and loyal. The love interest, Edan, was just as strong for me. There’s none of that pushy, borderline abusive bullshittery here. Their relationship is rock solid. Edan, while teasing and mischievous by nature, is always there for Maia. From the moment they meet, he lifts her up and supports her. He believes in her. And she, in turn, is there for him. This is what a healthy relationship looks like.

More of this in YA, please.

This book is also super sex positive. I’m not going to go into detail here, because the publication date is a long way off and spoilers. Let’s just say that progressive, feminist themes pervade these pages without ever feeling preachy.

I also adored all of the shades of gray that Lim added to her villains. One-dimensional bad guys are not my thing, so I always appreciate when we’re given insight into their characters. Lim excels at that. She reveals just enough of their motives and driving emotions that you think that maybe, possibly, there’s hope for redemption. Which makes it all the more painful when they do terrible things.

Throughout this book, I kept vacillating between empathy for one of the villains, and abject hatred. Bravo.

The last thing you need to know before going into this is that it is definitely a romance. While the blurb only mentions Edan, their relationship is one of the central pieces of this story, and it dominates the second half.

Also, these characters are fallible. While Maia is intelligent, she’s still a teenager, and she exhibits some behavior that a lot of curmudgeonly adult readers like myself might find borderline TSTL later on in the book, which is what kept this rating closer to a 3.5 than a 4 star read for me.

But honestly, the setting and the story more than made up for it, which is why I bumped this up to four.

If you love yourself a romantic fantasy, add this one to your TBR right the hell now.

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Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
303 reviews · 14.3k followers
April 9, 2021
*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own.*

Quick Stats
5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Spin The Dawn is a fun, fast paced fantasy. It was pitched to me as Mulan, Project Runway, and a hint of Aladdin, and honestly, that is the best way to describe it.

"Artisans such as you are soldiers in times of war."

// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Assault, Alcoholism, Animal Death, War Themes, Murder //

- Premise -

Spin the Dawn follows Maia, the only daughter of a skilled tailor. When her father is summoned to compete in a competition to become to Imperial Tailor, she disguises herself as a boy and takes his place. However, winning the title of Imperial Tailor is harder than she could imagine, as she must balance her secret, sabotaging competitors, and the impossible task granted to her.

"'I, too, once journeyed beyond the stars'
'What did you find?'
His voice turned lethally soft. 'That it's just the beginning.'"

- Writing & Setting-

I absolutely adore the writing in this book. Elizabeth Lim has a gorgeous writing style that adds to the fairytale feeling of this book. Her prose is beautiful, but not too flowery. She describes the setting well and builds the characters and their relationships beautifully. The world itself is well built with a fascinating mythology and plenty of history interwoven into the fantasy aspects. It's the perfect mix of grounded to reality yet completely magical and fascinating.

"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."

- Plot -

Spin the Dawn is a fast-paced book. There is constant action to the point where I literally could not put it down. I tried and failed (and lost a couple of hours of sleep because of it). It’s split into parts, focusing on the competition and an epic journey. Typically, traveling in novels bores me, but despite the journey taking up a large part of the book, there was always something interesting going on, or a trial to undergo, which made the pages fly by.

"'What keeps you up at night?' I asked. 'You're never in your tent.'
A cloud passed over his face. 'Demons and ghosts.' With a faint smile, he added, 'And not having enough books to read.'"

- Characters -

The main character, Maia, is great. She loves her job, which isn't something often emphasized in YA, and her passion is something I really admired about her. She’s also a very strong character, who is determination, loyal, and kind. I just really liked her. There was also a great emphasis on her relationship with her family. After the war ended, her family was left in pieces and I love that Elizabeth Lim didn’t shy away from the tragedy and the pain it brings. The romance aspect was really well done, and absolutely adorable while still feeling realistic and earned (definitely not a case of insta-love here, thank god). Edan, the court magician, is fascinating. He’s mysterious, powerful, and always has the best banter with Maia. I can’t wait to learn more about him! I also found myself really interested in Lady Sarnai even though I probably shouldn’t. I’m really curious about her story, and that of the Emperor, and where it will lead in the sequel. Did I mention that I’m dying for this sequel?? Because I need it.

"I want you to know that some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably."

- Conclusion -

Pros- Fast paced, cute romance, fascinating world
Cons- sequel please?? I really, really need it
Overall- 5/5 stars.
Spin the Dawn is an utterly addictive read that will captivate you and give you dreams of dresses painted with the blood of the stars.

*All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change*

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Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews · 803 followers
November 21, 2020
I want you to know that some journeys have ends, but not this one. This one will change you. Irrevocably. 💫

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Tell me the girl on the cover isn’t Davika Hoorne’s doppelgänger!!?

NEXT: I mentioned in a status update that I’ve put off starting this book (for literally a year lmao) because I have this irrational, paralyzing fear of reading the books I’m most excited about, for risk of major disappointment.

I’m really, really sad to say that my fears weren’t entirely unfounded with Spin the Dawn. :(

I definitely liked this book. I just didn’t love it like I was really hoping I would. (I mean… Mulan retelling? East Asian-inspired fantasy?? What is arguably the most beautiful cover to grace the YA class of 2019??? How could one not have stratospherically high expectations for this novel!!??)


My feelings toward this book are almost exactly those I felt for Reflection, Elizabeth Lim’s retelling of Mulan for the Disney A Twisted Tale series. I went back and looked over the review I’d written for Reflection, and the uncanny (or maybe sad) thing is that I could pretty much copy that review word-for-word and paste it here, and it’d be perfectly applicable. Here’s the first paragraph:

i'm absolutely heartbroken to say that while i liked this story, it just didn't really click with me. i didn't feel the stakes, wasn't hooked on the plot—and maybe that's because it read more like a children's/middle-grade fantasy.

If you want my thoughts about Spin the Dawn in a nutshell, that’s pretty much it. (And actually, that last line I wrote about childrens’s/MG fantasy does the genre SUCH a disservice—some of my absolute favourite books ever are Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series.)


I guess I just found the prose in this book overly simplistic; sentences were short, descriptions not particularly immersive, and I was put off by the lack of variety in sentence structure and vocabulary. I’m starting to think that it’s just a personal chemistry (or lack thereof) thing with me and Elizabeth Lim's writing.

I liked Maia and Edan, but I didn’t feel like their romance was particularly compelling—which was SUCH A BUMMER because the romances in fantasy books are usually one of my favourite things about them. (I blame Edan's "girrrl ur different" instalove for Maia.) But that isn’t to say there weren't moments that really made my heart hurt:

“I love you, too… And I’ll have you. The sun and moon only see each other one day out of the entire year. Even if it’s an hour or a day—I’d rather be with you for that time than not at all.”

One thing I did really enjoy was the ending—I feel like Maia’s stakes were suddenly, devastatingly upped in the last 20% of the book, and goddammit I'm such a sucker for and non-guaranteed happily ever afters!

Also, you can bet I'm still gonna be devouring the sequel.

Profile Image for Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★.
123 reviews · 940 followers
March 15, 2020

I was supposed to review this book two months ago, but well ... I was pretty lazy that time after getting all my examinations done. So here I am reviewing this book! I'm honestly glad and happy to be back reviewing. It's one of the things that I love to do ... when I am not feeling lazy. :p

To be honest, I read this book because I heard it's Mulan retelling? and I love Mulan so much that I literally will read anything that is Mulan retelling. It's kind of complicated to describe how I feel toward this book. It was a bad book, I quite enjoyed reading it in the beginning but then when I was nearing the end of the book, I just couldn't give the book my attention and I seemed to get restless every time I read it. It's like I managed to find myself some distractions and when I finished reading the book, the only feeling I felt was relieved because it meant I could finally read something else.


The plot of the book was neither fast nor slow. It was the right pace. But the deeper I went into the story, the more boring it became. I initially got thrilled in reading the book, because it TOTALLY sounded like a book that I would adore and show to my friends how I loved it. However, it did not happen. What happened was that I got bored reading the book. It was just that I somehow could not get myself entangled with the plot of the book or just immersed myself in the competition within the book. I don't know why, but I was just bored with the whole story. Maybe it was because I had expectations of the book because I expected to read an action-packed book that left me wondering and exhilarated. But I mostly did not feel anything while reading. But, there were also moment where I felt sorry to Maia and hoped for a better situation. But, I still remember clearly that nearing the end of the book I just wanted it to be over already and I admit I skimmed reading it a bit.


The main characters are Maia and Edan and I don't know what to say about them. I did not dislike them, but I did not adore them at the same time. They're just fine. I loved Maia's determination and Edan could be funny sometimes and I quite liked the interaction between him and Maia. They often bickered over petty things, but it's entertaining and made me laugh. I guess, if Edan hadn't been quite funny, I wouldn't have been able to finish reading it. I guess those are the only things I could think of about the main characters. There is a romance in the book. I wouldn't really call it enemies to lovers, because I don't think they hated one another. It's just one them regarded the other one as annoying person. The romance is definitely slow-burn, but IT WAS DULL. DRY. LACK OF SPARK. TEDIOUS. I just couldn't feel anything for the romance.


All in all, I did not regret reading the book. It was quite good in the beginning, but I couldn't put my full attention to the book nearing the end due to boredom. Thank you for reading the review and liking it! I appreciate it very much. Hope you all have a fabulous day!




My examinations are finally over! And I‘m having holidays for at least 2 weeks. I AM SO HAPPY I COULD CRY. So ... this means I can read a book as long as I want. THIS IS GONNA BE EXCITING.
Profile Image for kaz.brekkers.future.wife.
380 reviews · 258 followers
March 8, 2022
Interviewee: This book broke my heart. Shattered it. No, it stomped on it, ripped it to shreds, put in the blender, drank it, vomited it out. *begins crying dramatically*
interviewer: Um that's wonderful news, but I asked how was your day, not how was the book?
interviewee: *wipes tears with Clorox wipes* oh, my day was pretty shitty, I just gave birth and realized the baby daddy is Vladimir Putin. At least I'll get that DINERO.🤪✌️
interviewer: ummm.....so tell us about the boo-
interviewee: it's so fucking good bro, like fucking crack cocaine, if my FBI officer is watching it, I have not done drugs *does the Debby Ryan smirk* no but for real, it's a Mulan vibe kind of thing. Maia is a baddass, scissor-snipping girl.
interviewer: scissors as in the object or scissors as in 👉👌.
interviewee: why can't it be both 😏?
interviewer: annnnyway, tell us about the writing, the romance, the plot. spill the mother fucking tea girl? Are there any hot guys
interviewee: oh, miss gurl, our love interest isn't just hot, he's a fucking heatstroke. He's about to have Miami quaking. He's Edan, a court magician known as the "lord enchanter", but i like to call "daddy bigdicks" for short, because we all know it is loOoOoOng. And basically there's also Maia, the MC, who has to disguise herself as a boy to enter a tailoring competition. And he sees right through her disguise.
he's all like 'hey girl' and she's like 'hey', and he's like 'aha, i knew you were a girl' and she's like 'oh no, i thought you said hey earl, because i love earl tea, so some people call me earl for short *nervousmangiggling*' and he's like 'quit being a terrible liar and come ride this dick' and shes like 'fuck it, why not'
but this is a slow burn so it doesn't happen until page 250. But there are also like 250 pages left after that so of course, they're not going to get their happy ending!!
interviewer: what ending do they get?
interviewee: oh basically, he has to journey with her away from the king he serves she finds out that. he's bound to the king through a magic bracelet, so then they go to this star tower thing so she can receive the blood of stars but she's marked by this hot-but-crazy demon guy and she has to become the demon and take his place if she wants the mark to disappear
then Edan is like 'no, i'll take your place instead' and Maias like 'haha, uno reverse card' and ends up freeing him by praying to the hot goddess she worships, but like who wouldn't worship that hot goddess
and Edan was like 'why the fuck did you do that, i was going to sacrifice myself first' and she's like 'well i fucking did it so shut up about it you moron' and he's like 'you turn me on when you're angry' and she's like 'well my panties are wet but we can't really fuck right now because the king found out the spell binding you to him is broken and because of that you have to leave and skedaddle before he beheads both of us, also everyone knows i'm a girl now' and he's like 'dang it, if only all the dudes here were gay, I'll skedaddle but i'm still going to find away to free you, but you've won this round' and she's like 'cheat on me while I'm a demon and i'll go all ghetto on your ass' and he's like 'stop it, you're making my dick hard' and they do heavy petting but not in the book, but i imagined they did heavy petting in my mind, because why n-
interviewer:*loud. audible snoring**bolts up*I'M AWAKE. Okay, um....tell me about the plot and thrills
interviewee: oh boy it's so fucking good. basically, she has to enter a competition but this one dude is like 'no thanks I'm going to expose your secrets and she's all like
'oh no, they're going to behead me for having a pussy' and the kings like 'so we decided not to behead you because I just got a brand new limited edition $100,000 Louis Vitton carpet and I don't want to ruin it with your blood. and also because the queen actually wants you to continue to be her tailor, but you still have to pretend like you're a boy' and she's like 'oh phew' and then he's like 'oh and you ahve to go on this impossible journey where you have to make three dresses out of the laughter of sun, tears of the moon, and the blood of stars, and basically go through these trials that determine whether you can make them, also we totally didn't give you this mission because we'd think you'd die on it and that way we could kill you without techincally killing you'
and she's like 'fuck, you guys are twisted'
and then Edans like 'I'm going with you'
and Maias like 'yeah no'
and Edans like 'I have magic and I'm also hot so I'm going with you' and Maias like 'ugggghhh fine' so then they go and grow close and fight demons and pretend to be a couple in order to stay in a hotel and then get ambushed by the hotel keepers and then fight with each other
and then Maia finds out his trapped too. the king and by going on this journey he's putting his life in danger so she doesn't talk to him and he's all like love Dovey so then she's lovey-dovey so then they make up and live happily ever after:
interviewer: awww-
interviewee: sike they get ambushed and it turns out they were being set up or whatever and then Maia has to finish the third trial but she accidentally kind of doesn't finish it, but she still gets the blood of stars,
but then the demon chases her and marks her, and then he tracks her and then Edan makes the deal to take his place if he leaves Maia alone, but she reverses it. so she. becomes the demon and also ends up freeing Edan in the process and then they're forced to depart and never see each other again
interviewer:*in pure terror*aaaawww
interviewee: anyway, I'm going to go get high on molly, see you fuckers later
interviewer: but I still have 60 questions left, ugh, I don't get paid enough for this


Fuck every single one of you. Fuck the fucking world
I will never ever ever recover!!!!
I hate you all!
Review to come

currently reading
It's Elizabeth Lim, what could possibly go wrong
Profile Image for Josu Diamond.
9 books · 33k followers
February 8, 2020
Uf, tengo mucho que decir.

Primero... ¡POR FIN! Por fin me he hecho con el libro después de tanto desearlo y por fin he podido disfrutarlo, casi de una sentada. Aún desconozco si es el inicio de una bilogía, trilogía o saga, pero quería meterme ya en la historia.

Segundo... Menudo batiburrillo de opiniones que he tenido durante el libro. La novela se divide en tres partes: La Prueba, El Viaje y El Juramento. Cada una de estas partes encierra puntos importantes de la novela, pero no están a la misma altura. Me explico.

La primera parte de la novela, que es casi la mitad de esta, nos narra la vida de Maia, su familia y cómo todo se tuerce cuando su padre es llamado para ser sastre real. Por su incapacidad, Mia decide marcarse un Mulán y marcharse a palacio haciéndose pasar por hombre. Allí deberá competir, y he de decir que aunque no sé mucho del tema telas, tejidos y demás cosas, disfruté muchísimo de esta parte.

Al más puro estilo La Selección o Los Juegos del Hambre, tenemos una protagonista que debe pasar pruebas complicadas enfrentándose a lo mejor de lo mejor: gente más preparada que ella, con más experiencia y sobre todo, relevancia en el mundo de la costura. Todos ellos hombres, claro. En esta primera parte de la novela se nos introduce la mitología de la saga, que resulta muy interesante, y se nos habla de la política de las diferentes naciones. Hay un balance muy bueno entre acción, ambientación y desarrollo de personajes.

Aunque aquí se usen tijeras...

Sin embargo, la segunda parte... Vale, la he leído como la primera, porque Elizabeth Lim sabe cómo manejar los tiempos y engancharte de una forma brutal. Pero he de admitir que el ritmo no era el mismo que al principio, y la trama quizá no tan interesante. Entiendo que el viaje es la excusa para que en los siguientes libros comprendamos mejor determinados conflictos, ya que conocemos al dedillo el resto de partes de la nación donde vive Maia. Lo que menos me ha gustado de esta segunda parte es, sin duda, la relación Edan, de la que os hablaré ahora más adelante.

Para mí, el ecuador de la novela se ha quedado bastante más flojo que el primer tercio. Se centraba demasiado en cosas no tan relevantes para la trama general, y con la introducción de la trama romántica... En fin. No comments.

El final, lo que sería la tercera parte, consigue remontar y ponerse a la altura de la primera. Ya tenemos los personajes, la ambientación... Conocemos su mundo y cómo funciona, es decir, los elementos ya están presentados y solo queda jugar con ellos. Es por eso que cuando Mia continúa su camino, todo está más claro y es más fácil que los giros de la trama te afecten como lector, y sobre todo, que te hagan conectar más con los personajes.

Respecto a la trama romántica he de decir que me ha sobrado bastante. Entiendo que le mete fuelle al asunto, y que muchas de las cosas que suceden al final suceden debido a ella y son un motor para el resto de tramas de libros venideros, pero se me ha hecho demasiado... falso. No sé, forzado. No me ha convencido del todo, y he sido incapaz de conectar con esa parte de la novela. La relación que desde el primer momento se ve que va a surgir entre Edan y Mia no me ha parecido, en resumen, realista.

No lo hace con espada pero el vibe es el mismo

Tejer el alba se salva por la originalidad de la trama, la introducción de un mundo nuevo hecha con gracia, las metáforas de la autora para hablar de sentimientos a través de términos de sastrería, la mitología y la ambientación, y en general, el ritmo de la narración, ya que no dejan de suceder cosas nunca sin bajar la carga de información.

Es una buena introducción a una -espero- trilogía que me hace quedarme esperando la segunda entrega, aunque quizá no con tantas ganas como pensaba que me iba a dejar cuando comencé a leerla.
Profile Image for Ashlee » libraryinthecountry.
775 reviews · 648 followers
February 9, 2021
Spin the Dawn is an enjoyable fantasy with fairytale qualities and a compelling storyline. The dynamic between Edan and Maia was sweet, with fun and witty banter. The romance is charmingly honest, with some enticing forbidden love aspects.

One thing that threw me off is that this book very much felt like two smashed into one. The first half of the book is very focused on Maia masquerading as a boy to win a spot as the Emperor's Imperial tailor. It was fast-paced and primarily focused on the competition, with all the treachery and cattiness you might expect (this is definitely where the Project Runway comp comes into play). However, the second half of this book is much slower paced and primarily journey/quest focused. I actually love stories with characters travelling, but I felt as though the pacing shift was a detriment to this story and somewhat jarring after getting used to the pacing of the first half.

That said, I loved unraveling the mysteries in this book and all of its magical qualities. The writing style carries you right along with the characters and weaves a tale rich in mythology and imagination. I'm looking forward to exploring this world more and learning more about the side characters in the sequel!
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews · 3,268 followers
July 14, 2021
*Spoiler Alert*

Are you effing telling me that Maia went through *waves around* all that bullshit tailoring trial in addition to months on an expedition just so she could fall on a sword for a boy?

Are you fucking kidding me?!
Profile Image for nora⁷.
306 reviews · 71 followers
October 27, 2020
4.6/5 ☆ = 6-


Spin the Dawn may be one of my favourite books I read this year! The fantasy aspect as well as worldbuilding was brilliantly written, and I was hooked from the very start. The legends and magic - I loved it all! It was a fast-paced read which I enjoyed.

I really loved the retelling of Mulan, and the strong protagonist, Maia. I admire how the author reminded me that a strong protagonist doesn't have to come off as physically strong, as Maia shows to be psychologically strong and determined. The only thing I didn't like, was the age gap thing-y between Maia and Edan. Who thought over 100+ year age gaps were good for relationships in ya books? I did like Edan, but the age gap creeped me out heh.

Either way, Spin the Dawn was wonderful and definitely enjoyable. I'm so mad I didn't have the sequel immediately after finishing this book, cause I really need to know what's going to happen! I definitely recommend reading this book!


ohmy this was amazing! i really loved this book!! review to come
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