***Disclaimer: I received a free early access copy of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim from NetGalley through Random House Children’s/Knopf Books for review purposes. Thank you so much for opportunity.
Not sure what else the appropriate response for the tagline of ‘Project Runway meets Mulan‘ is other than YES PLEASE!
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.
One of the best things about this book is the detail. I love how Elizabeth Lim writes. There is just enough detail for the sense to tingle and the words are woven together wonderfully. Blue is not just blue, but every color seen in the sea: cerulean, teal, etc. It fits wonderfully with Maia’s narrative because she is so detail oriented with her passion and skill for being a tailor.
I love Maia so much. She goes into the competition to be the imperial tailor because her family needs her to. With her father ill and her older brother immobilized, it’s up to her to save the family name. If only girls were able to inherit such things like family businesses! She wouldn’t have to pose as a boy then.
However, she does a pretty job faking it. Of course, Edan, the court’s magician sees who she really is. But he roots for her and helps her out.
I really loved seeing Maia’s character growth. Before her journey, she was just doing what she had to do for her family, but by the end of it, it was for a different reason. You just see how her perception changes through the story and it’s wonderful. It’s a natural change, so you really have to think about it when you’re nearly finished with the book to be like “wow, you’ve grown up so much!”
This story was paced really well. Nothing was ever boring or slow. It was nice to see whom you thought was questionable stay that way and there was a very clear line between good and evil. There are more grey area stories right now, so I liked having that clear line because it was a nice change of pace.
The romantic plot was pretty obvious, but not forced at all to me. I am team Maia and Edan for life! There were so many moments of gut wrenching sexual tension that made me want to smash their faces together already.
Overall, I loved this book so much and it was a page turner. I gave it 5 stars.