Spin the Dawn
by Elizabeth Lim
*Disclaimer: I have a lot of Netgalley ARCs I requested when I was working as an Assistant Librarian. These ARCS are years old at this point, but I still want to post my reviews as soon as I get around to reading the books. I want to honor my agreement with Netgalley by reviewing as many books as I can this year, and getting my backlog down significantly. Thank you for understanding, and my apologies for the delay.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I also had a hardcover, finished copy of this novel that I purchased which is the version I will be basing my review off of.
Spin the Dawn was one of my most anticipated reads, and an ARC I deeply coveted. I’m so disappointed that it took me so long to finally read this story, but I think I read it right when I was meant to. This story is a young adult fantasy novel that follows a young girl on her quest to become a Master Tailor, a title that is forbidden to women.
As we learn about Maia’s family life, we also learn about her culture. Magic, demons, gods, goddesses, and enchanters, are all well known elements in the stories her brothers weave for her when she’s a child. We learn that Maia is a character who relies heavily on what she can see – which includes her innate and natural skill.
I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing of this novel. We spend just enough time with Maia and her family to understand her motivations for becoming a Master Tailor, and how that quest has the potential to save her family from starvation. The first step involves Maia’s first of many deceits: becoming her brother and entering the Emperor’s competition to become his Master Tailor.
Maia is described time and time again as a character who cannot lie. That is her one major ‘flaw’, and the one aspect of this character I deeply connected with. As I’m writing this review I’m realizing how interesting it is that the one character who is known to be incapable of lying, lives her life masquerading as an injured man. If her scheme is detected, not only does she face execution, but the same fate could be brought down on her family she is so desperately trying to save.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed the construction of the romance in this story. (Minor spoilers ahead). We meet Edan, the Emperor’s Enchanter, after he takes an interest in Maia. Their dynamic was so much fun to watch as they evolve from his curiosity versus her animosity, to a mutual understanding after he saves her life (twice), to Maia realizing he might even be her friend, to them both realizing they are in love.
The romance was so beautifully woven into this journey that when our characters finally come together in a vaguely described, mostly fade to black sequence of events, I found myself overcome with emotion. I may or may not have started sobbing, but you have no proof of that. I could lament on and on about why this romance worked so well, but we would be here for days. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
The other aspect of this novel that worked for me was the continuous, sometimes life threatening, trials Maia had to overcome to try and win the title of Master Tailor. Whether her life was being threatened by her competitors, the Emperor, the soon to be Empress, or the Gods and Goddesses themselves, I was filled with anticipation as we followed Maia from one outlandish task to the next.
My only teeny tiny, miniscule complaint is that I wanted more world building. Maia has an incredible opportunity to travel far and wide from the kingdom, and we only get brief snippets describing the landscape and weather. I would have loved to see more of the people, or fun facts and stories from Edan about his past in these new places. What was provided in this novel was enough to satiate, but also just enough to pique my curiosity.
If you’re like me and you haven’t picked up Spin the Dawn yet, let me persuade you to wait not a minute longer! The magic system, demons, ghosts, and fated interventions were so interesting to read about alongside our main character who learned to assert herself while falling in love. I was super excited to see that this series is a duology (I love duologies), and I’ll be picking up book 2 on Kindle as soon as I post this review.
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