A Review of: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 387 pages
Reading like the love child of Mulan and Project Runway, the novel follows a young, gifted tailor named Maia Tamarin who disguises herself as a boy to compete to become the next imperial tailor and, later, complete three dresses made from the sun, moon and stars.
Maia is ambitious and stubborn but also selfless and kindhearted. She defies the gender roles that her society tries to enforce upon her, refusing to give up on her dreams and settle for a man she doesn't love. I adored her as a main character and feel she would be inspiring for young girls.
The other main character, Edan, the Lord Enchanter (sorcerer who serves the Emperor) is mysterious and playful and has effortless chemistry with Maia. Their relationship developed gradually from Maia being wary of him to befriending him to, eventually, loving him. It made it feel all the more real.
I do wish we'd spent more time with some of the minor characters, such as the emperor and Lady Sarnai and fellow tailor Norbu to develop them farther.
The novel is told through the first-person perspective of Maia. Since Maia was a very well written character, it was a pleasure to be inside of her head for the duration of the novel. My only complaint, and this is a real nitpick, is that the author uses an over abundance of exclamation points that at times had me rolling my eyes.
The novel is very well paced with the plot moving along smoothly. The story itself is divided into three very distinct parts: the first part being the competition, the second being when Maia must sew three dresses out of the sun, moon, and stars, and the third and final being the aftermath of her journey.
The world of Spin the Dawn is impressively rich. From religion to fashion to environment and even different social groups and magic, the world was so detailed that it felt real and tangible.
This novel really has it all: inspiring characters with a romance you will root for, adventure and suspense, and world building. There's really something for everyone. I would rate this novel 5/5 stars. It's definitely worth the read.