Book Review: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

I wouldn't be lying if I said Mulan is my favorite Disney princess, so when I leaned Spin the Dawn had elements of Mulan in it, I was totally in. It's been a little over a month since I finished this book and I feel horrible about not writing my review sooner. The sequel–and conclusion–to this duology comes out in less than a week, so hopefully I can give you enough reasons to add Spin the Dawn to your TBR.

Keep reading for the description and my review.

Book Review of Elizabeth Lim's Spin the Dawn by Lourdes Montes. Two Arts in a World, July, 2020.


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.


I listened to Spin the Dawn knowing it had been in my TBR for so long. Right away, I enjoyed the strong character Maia showed, first with her skills that apparently aren't common for women in her world, as being a taylor is a man's job. Tragically, the situations for her to step up and dress like a man to represent her family before emperor allows her to prove her outstanding skills as a taylor and provide for her struggling family.

I like thinking of this book in two parts that are really fulfilling. The first consist of the contest between taylors to decide who will have the honor of working for the emperor. The challenges are so unique and the tension is so strong I truly felt it. The second part of the book was the quest to make three impossible dresses, and that was a full adventure with magic and creatures beyond my imagination.

If there is anything I appreciate in fantasy is unique challenges, and a good adventure. I believe I had it all in this book. I also need to mention that as a Renee Ahdieh fan, this book resonated with the beautiful feeling I got when I read the The Wrath and the Dawn, and of course, A Flame in the Mist, being a Mulan retelling as well.

The romance! I feel like it mostly focused on the second half of the journey, and the bonding time felt organic. I'm still swooning. The old-fashion romance and devotion was heart melting and heart-breaking at the same time. You'll see why...

Also, the imagery in this book is so vivid! The food descriptions in are drool-provoking and the clothes and everything Maia makes is so beautifully described. I think listening to it all was even more perfect. I totally recommend the audiobook, narrated by Kim Mai Guest, whose voice is so soothing.

It's less than a week before the sequel, Unravel the Dusk, comes out and if you haven't read this book you need to ASAP. It is only a duology so you will have all of Maia's journey available.

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Here is all the info for Spin the Dawn:

Book Aesthetic for Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim. Curated and edited by Lourdes Montes
Book Aesthetic

Reading Challenge No.: 23/45

Author: Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Format: Audiobook

Length: 13h 54m

POV: #FirstPersonPOV

Genre: #Fantasy #Romance

Series or Standalone? #FirstInSeries - The Blood of Stars # 1 (Duology)

First Sentence:

"Ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man–even with my eyes closed."

Thank you for reading my review of Spin the Dawn. I have so much to catch up on and I can't wait to share with you my thoughts on the great books I've read this past month. Please like my Facebook page, Two Arts in a World, for more content.

Stay safe!

Love, Lourdes

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