Author: Elizabeth Lim
Edition: e-ARC, 288 Digital Pages
Hardcover Publication Date: July 09, 2019
A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!
*This review is based on the e-ARC edition provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*
Ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man – even with my eyes closed. Yet ask me to tell a lie, and I will stumble and falter to think of one.Maia, Spin the Dawn
I truly enjoy reading retellings, and Spin the Dawn is a pretty good one in my opinion. It is inspired by Mulan, but it is still its own original tale as well. Maia is the daughter of a common tailor. After her father falls apart from the death of her mother, Maia disguises herself as a boy and takes her father’s place in the competition to become A’landi’s royal tailor. During her journey, she must construct three magical dresses, one made of sunlight, one of moonlight, and one of the blood of the stars.
There is a lot to like about this book:
- The prose style is elegant and descriptive.
- The setting is Asian, and the mythology is Chinese-inspired!
- The competition to become royal tailor is fierce!
- Magic abounds in this tale – including a magic carpet, magic scissors, ghosts, and demons.
- Maia truly loves her family, and that is what motivates her most of the time. Her devotion to her family is touching.
- The romance is sweet and is not insta-love.
My whole life, I’d been told what I couldn’t do because I was a girl. Well, this was my chance to find out. The only thing I could do was take it.Maia, Spin the Dawn
Characters & Romance
The two characters at the heart of this story are Maia Tamarin and Edan, the Emperor’s Lord Enchanter.
- Maia is a strong, determined young woman living in a society that keeps telling her what she can’t do. I love that her family background is well developed, and she undergoes great character growth throughout the story. She meets Edan while she is disguised a boy for the royal tailor competition.
- As the love-interest, Edan is quite intriguing. His background is a bit mysterious, and we don’t learn everything about him in this book. But his predicament is quite interesting. (I can’t say more without spoiling a large plot point.)
- The chemistry between Maia and Edan is believable, and their banter is endearingly funny. They seem to have a genuine trust that develops over a period of time. (Although, Maia does do something near the end that may affect that trust later on.) I truly think they make a great couple, and I am eager to see how their relationship will progress in the sequel.
“Seize the wind,” I whispered. “Don’t become like the kite that never flies.”Maia, Spin the Dawn
Why didn’t I give the book a full 5 stars? For one thing, it just didn’t suck me in immediately. A lot of the first half of the book is slower paced and feels like set up for the second half of the story. (But I did really enjoy the second half!)
Also, there’s one “villainous” competitor who kind of disappears in the second half of the book, when I had hoped he would continue to cause conflict. I mean, he does in a way, but is not very present in the second half because the “villain” becomes someone else. But perhaps he will show up again in the sequel.
Another thing I suppose I should point out is the disability representation. One of Maia’s three brothers returns home from a war with paralyzed legs. While I’m glad that there is disability representation, the book does sort of present the paralysis as something that needs a “cure.” Ever since I took a course about disability studies, I’ve just been more mindful regarding the different ways disability is presented in literature. This does not mean that the book is bad. I’m simply pointing out the manner in which the book includes disability so that readers can be fully informed.
Overall, I thought Spin the Dawn was quite creative and original, and I really enjoyed the second half. If you enjoy retellings, I would recommend giving this one a try when it comes out on July 09th! Happy reading!
P.S. Do you like my paper cranes? I made them myself 😀
*Content Warnings: A woman is stripped and flogged, and there is one sex scene between the two main characters (but not a very long scene and not super explicit).*