Spin the Dawn – Elizabeth Lim

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.

The first thing I want to say is how I adored the beginning. It really worked for me and gave me the vibe of a Robin McKinley or Diana Wynne Jones sort of opening. It felt magical and alive and it was brilliant.


What an amazing creation! Every time I thought I knew where it was going, I was wrong. This is a white-knuckle read.

–Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Tempests and Slaughter

This book truly felt magical to me. And seeing that Tammy Pierce herself recommended it solidifies all the thoughts I had while reading it.

Preorder goodies from Elizabeth Lim

One of the things I loved most about the story was the hero’s journey aspect. Maia travels to the court, stuff goes down at the court, Maia travels through the land, and in each section of trip she learns something new about the characters around her, the world she lives in and ultimately about herself.

Maia is challenged and she rises to those challenges. Seeing her go through the ups and downs is exactly what I look for in quest-like fantasy’s like this.

The Chinese culture spread through it all was perfect for me. I grew up loving stories set in those worlds and seeing the real things on paper, written by Chinese voices just makes me so happy. I know in my heart this is a book I would have wanted to read as a teen.

As I read more and more and begin my own writing journey I start to see things from a writing perspective. I think things like, oooh I love how she did X, Y and Z! This story affected me in ways I want to affect readers someday, it is inspiring to see such hard work on a book pay off.

The imagery is beautiful. Gowns made of the stars pull the sort of description exactly as you would think. The beautiful cover really supports the language found underneath. The last act of the novel takes an epic turn, setting up for the continuation of the story in a way I am so excited to join the ride for, I cannot wait to see the resolution of this trilogy and see what else Liz has in store for us!

Spin the Dawn has just the right amount of whimsy mixed with logic that makes you feel swept away in a new world and eager to turn over all the rocks to find out how it will come together in the end.

I would recommend for fans of classic adventure fantasy. I’d comp it classically to Robin McKinley and Diana Wynne Jones. More modern comps would be Kristin Cashore, or Robin Lefevers. Basically what I consider fantasy to be in its purest, high adventure, delightful form.

This lovely book hits shelves July 9th, which means there is still time to preorder and get the prize pack from Liz. The character cards and prints are beautiful and I’m so happy I added them to my collection. So, go forth, preorder, I promise you won’t be sorry.


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