Book Review

Spin the Dawn – Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spin the Dawn was sold to me as a Mulan and Project Runway mashup of sorts, so I was intrigued because Mulan is tied for my favourite princess. Project Runway? I don’t really have an opinion about, but I was willing to give it a chance. Having a competition to be the Emperor’s personal tailor sounded like it was setting the stage for a grand competition and a lot of trouble.

Maia is the main character, a skilled tailor who finds herself in a world that doesn’t value the skills of women and would never allow her to be a master tailor because of her gender. As a result, Maia has to disguise herself as a boy and pretend to be her father’s son, instead of his daughter in order to bring honor to the family name and hopefully become the Emperor’s Imperial Tailor. I really liked her character and her commitment to her craft, despite what everyone told her she could (and could not) do. It was also really interesting to watch her try to throw off the weight of expectations from society about what it means to be a girl and how to act, as she struggled to impersonate her brother and stand up for herself more.

I found the side or supporting characters to be interesting, from Edan to Lady Sarnai (the attitude in that one) – they each had a role to play and added to the story. Some of the tailors were absolutely nefarious and I loved the mystery they added to the competition, as you never knew what was going to happen next. Although I didn’t truly feel that the relationship between Maia and Edan was developed, I really enjoyed Edan as a character. He had a storied past, some interesting magic, and I kept wanting to know more.

Honestly, the competition was over much too quickly. I expected it to be the majority of the book and it ended halfway through. I would have loved to see more of the competition, draw it out, add more shenanigans, give me more challenges – I adored that part. Alas, we had to go on an epic journey with the magical and mysterious man in order to truly succeed, so there’s that. As interesting as I found the journey, it really felt like book two. The first half was so engaging and then sometimes the pacing of the second half was off. I think the book would have been better if the two (relatively) disparate stories had been their own stories, characters had been given more time to develop and chemistry to grow, and intrigue to build. It was so enjoyable, but overall the pacing could have been better.

The world was crafted so brilliantly for me from the palace to the temples, I was engrossed in this world and cannot wait to see more from Lim (and Maia).

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