Hello, and welcome to the last day for the Spin The Dawn blog tour hosted by Caffeine Book Tours! We have an exciting review and surprises ahead so I hope you prepared a snack or two while we bask on the glory that is this wonderful book.
A MULAN RETELLING MEETS PROJECT RUNWAY?! WHERE DO I SIGN TF UP??
… that sounded better in my head but then I realized that’s basically my reaction for every book that catches my short attention span. In all seriousness, the bookish gods are forever great for making 2019 a literal goldmine for Asian book releases. One such release is Spin The Dawn. Not gonna lie, it was the cover (isn’t it always though, Bianca??) that solidified my inclination to pick up this book. Then Caffeine Book Tours (hosted by the one and only Shut Up, Shealea) opened up a tour for this book. So yeah, that’s where I signed tf up.
Now let’s get to it! There’s a lot of ground to cover here, people!
Title: Spin The Dawn
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Published: 9th of July 2019
Series: The Blood of Stars #1
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
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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.
As a part of the tour, I received an e-ARC of this book. Huge thanks to the publisher for providing copies for the tour. This does not affect my review and all of the opinions and thoughts reflected here are my own.
I want to do my best not to spoil this book so please excuse me if my review is a bit short and vague.
Let’s start with the basics: there is so much to love about this book. Spin The Dawn is a paragon of young adult retellings. It sets itself on a familiar world, yet it is clear that there is so much more than to it than what lies beneath the surface. Inspired by the tale of Hua Mulan, Elizabeth Lim proves that there is more to tell when one decides to put their on spin on a well-known story. Elizabeth writes with passion and intricacy, similar to that of her main character Maia when given fabrics and needles. Readers can easily imagine the wonderful creations that Maia has crafted, but there is still room to the imagination on how they are executed. Much so, the words flow like a river, and every chapter promises to leave the reader hungry like a hawk for more. The writing is rich in lore, as if the places within the novel are tangible and exists with history.
As fitting for a royal tailor’s adventures, the setting became increasingly heavier but surprisingly lighter. By all means, the world building is simply phenomenal. Once the reader steps into Maia’s shoes, what we know of her world starts off like a hum. Then along with her steady pace, it steadily becomes vast—like drums beating to the rhythm of the heart. As Maia ventures in her quest to become the emperor’s tailor, the world beyond A’landi becomes more vivid and colorful.
For a tale of fantasy, what I also loved about Spin The Dawn is that it features a steady cast. Maia (our Mulan) remains the sole focus of the story, and it slowly invests the readers with her journey in (out)weaving her competitors to serve her emperor. But fret not, while it is archetypal, Maia as a character is still flawed and has her imperfections. There is so much love to give for all her indecisiveness and skepticism to the magic system introduced in this book. Her resilience and persistence in a society that constantly looks down upon her simply because of the gender that she was born can make readers want to scream “YES. PROVE THEM WRONG. OUT STITCH THOSE MEN.” Her love to her family is deeply admirable, and while it is heartbreaking to read, the hope for a better tomorrow remains. Maia’s strong attitude to doing anything for her family is reminiscent to that of the values that are etched in Asian family dynamics.
I would highly recommend Spin The Dawn to anyone looking for a great read. It also the perfect book to read if you are participating in the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. I am already anticipating its sequel because it is just that darn good. Really, when it comes to finding your next amazing read, look no further. The sun, the moon, and the stars will gladly shine on you and they will point you to the direction of this book.
Trigger/content warning: death, murder, violence, war, attempt of sexual assault
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.
Connect with Elizabeth!
3 readers will have the chance to win a copy of Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim! Check out the giveaway here. (Open intl)
Follow the rest of the tour here:
And while we’re at it, there’s a Twitter chat hosted by Caffeine Book Tours happening in a few where two (2) readers can get a chance to win copies of Spin The Dawn!