Spin the Dawn | ARC Review #25

Hey guys,

Today I’m reviewing Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim. I loved both the covers of the this book. This one is soft to look at unlike the one I used for the banner. I’m seeing a lot of book with covers with this style around. There are so many ARCs that I need to finish and hopefully I’ll be done with most of them this month.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend!

About the Book

Title: Spin the Dawn • By: Elizabeth Lim

Published on: 04 Mar 2021 • By: Hodder Paperbacks (Hodder & Stoughton)

Pace: Fast • Pages: 392 • Age: 14 and up

Series: The Blood of Stars #1 • Genre: YA Fantasy (Romance)

Song: Spring in Clouds by Yu-Peng Chen, HOYO-MiX

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.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

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I received a copy of this book from Hodder Paperbacks (Hodder & Stoughton) courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Rep: Chinese MCs and SCs, Disability

Maia of A’landi

Maia loved her family. She had a small family that included her mom, dad, three brothers, and herself , who were happy together. The first loss she ever knew was when her mom died. Her father stopped stitching and her brothers were fighting in the army when her mom died. The war between Emperor Khanujin and shansen broke her family into pieces. She lost her two brothers to war and the last one came back home, injured on a wheel chair.

When her brothers were away, she kept the house running by continuing her father’s job. She was the best in A’landi but she never revealed that to anyone and pretended that thier shop was run by her father.

One afternoon, Tamarin gets an offer to join the emperor’s court to become the royal tailor but he refuses it. Why? Because it was his daughter who was doing his work for him and she could never become a royal tailor because she was a woman. Yet, Maia was determined to go to the palace, disguising herself as Keton, to win that prize and to feed her family.

She passes herself as Keton easily and competes with other tailors to get the royal tailor post. She goes to lengths to win this competition and comes out as a different person.

Reading this book reminded me of the Chinese Drama, Because of Meeting You. The only thing common between this book and that drama was the competition, though the drama was on embroidery unlike the tailoring championship here. But the backstabbing, sabotaging part was so similar to that drama.

Maia was talented. She was honest, meticulous, and never gave up. Though she had the enchanted scissors, she relied on her handiwork. She changed from this obedient child to an adventurous, deceptive girl in the end, which was drastic. This competition changed her for good and worse.

The Lord Enchanter

The Lord Enchanter, Edan, was basically bound to the King with the amulet that the he wore around his neck. His magic saved the emperor and his kingdom, but it came with a steep price. He always teased Maia and knew she was not Kenton from the beginning. He was pulling her leg evertime he saw her and their banter was too good.

Edan started off as a side character and then became the love interest. The events that led to this change was too fast to grasp.

He possessed magic so ancient and powerful but nothing much was told in detail about enchanters or what their powers were capable of and I wanted to know more about them. We meet only two enchanters in this book and I hope we might find more in the next book.

The Competition

The first part of the novel was strictly about the competition. Different rounds with different tasks were given to the tailors and they had to come up with a creative solution to win it. It was fierce and some were genuinely helping others and good at their work too.

Everyone wanted to be the royal tailor. So a few competitors took into their hands to destroy others work by using borrowed magic and cheap tricks to meet their goals. I might have disliked Lady Sarnai a bit, but her tasks for the tailors were tough and interesting. She sounded like a spoiled child but she was also traded like a cow to the emperor, to become his queen.

The initial focus of this book was the competition. However, after a point it seemed to have changed its course to romance, which confused me bit in the middle.

Legend of the God of Thieves

Lady Sarnai wasn’t done with her tasks even after the competition. She came up with another master plan to thwart her impending marriage to the emperor by asking Master Tamarin (disguised as Maia) to make her the three dresses of Amana.

Making these three dresses involved a lot of complacitions. Because it was not easy to get the laughter of the sun or tears of the moon or blood of the stars in markets. They have to hunt for them across different regions. Travel the desert, clump steep ranges, and the last one was the most dangerous one, to get them and then to sew them into the dresses were another problem altogether.

I loved this part of the novel. I don’t know of it’s a chinese myth reference, but in isolation, I enjoyed reading about Maia and the Enchanter traveling and searching for each of these things in the novel. It was mystical and unbelievable. To see someone capture sun rays and sweing it on a dress was a good food to my imagination. It felt impossible, yet exciting at the same time.


I haven’t read a book with this pace since An Ember in the Ashes. It is always so easy to read a book that’s fast and grippy. I liked the myths in the story. I don’t know if its connected to chinese myths, but they were the best part of the novel, looking at the face value. Keeping these aside, I’d have enjoyed this book more if it took time to let things to develop. Each chapter went too fast, this is not reagrding the pace. All the events and scenes kept rolling so fast, hardly letting things to settle. I enjoyed the romance but it kinda overshadowed the competion, which was the main focus in the first-half, and every other development in the story.

It was interesting to see scissors, instead of a wand or stele, as an enchanted object, for a change. Granted, holding scissors to fight a demon never had the desired effect on me as a wand, but we can make do as long it gets you win a competition, stitch a dress in seconds and carry you on a mat across places. In conclusion, Spin the Dawn is a fascinating story that’ll keep you enchanted and take you on an exciting magical ride.

You will hold the seams of our family together, Maia. No other tailor in the world can do that.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
TW // PTSD (war), Blood, Death, Grief, Alcoholism, Loss of loved ones, Sexism

Elizabeth Lim is the author of the critically-acclaimed and bestselling The Blood of Stars duology (Spin the Dawn and Unravel the Dusk), the New York Times bestseller So This is Loveand the USA Today bestseller Reflection. Forthcoming books include the Six Crimson Cranes duology, expected summer 2021 and summer 2022, respectively. 

“It’s that heart of gold, and stardust shine that makes you beautiful.”

— R.M. Broderick

Paperbacktomes Gratitude Pic 2021


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