Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim (a review) (Spin the Dawn sequel)
Genre: YA Fantasy (Sequel)
Length: 351 pages
Rating: 4.25 ⭐️
Plot: In this high stakes sequel to Spin the Dawn, tailor Maia Tamarin is suffering the consequences of her arduous journey during the first novel. She's cursed to slowly become a demon while also desperately trying to keep peace in a kingdom on the brink of war.
STOP! Haven't Read Spin the Dawn yet? Check out my review for the first book in the duology here: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/home/a-review-of-spin-the-dawn-by-elizabeth-lim
Maia in the first novel was a selfless and ambitious girl with a deep love for her family and kingdom. In the second novel she is undergoing a change as she slowly becomes a demon. The author does an excellent job of exploring this dark descent and expressing a character who is losing her sense of self. Her transformation is gradual and becomes more and more horrifying as the novel progresses.
Accompanying Maia along her journey are characters from the first novel including her kitchen maid friend Ammi and her enchanter love Edan. Ammi is a sweet character with a good heart but she doesn’t really have much to do in the novel. Edan, too, came across as less interesting in this novel. I felt like he lost his identity in Maia and his devotion to her. There is also the fierce warrior princess Lady Sarnai who, besides Maia, has the most personality and development. She becomes slightly less unlikable than her first book counterpart.
The novel juggles four antagonists including two human and two demons. They range from pathetic to intimidating, though all pale in comparison to Maia's internal demon.
The world of Spin the Dawn is inspired by Chinese culture. The world was a large part of the first novel. In this novel there are a few new locations as well as some added lore, but everything established within the first novel including magic and politics remains. The world is very much something I admire about this duology as it is rich and lush in a way that makes it feel real.
As with its predecessor, the novel is told from the first person perspective of Maia. In my review of Spin the Dawn I referred to being in Maia's head as a pleasure. In this novel it is (appropriately) a much more nightmarish experience given her inner turmoil.
The novel had great pacing. There was a lot of ground to cover and the novel is just over 350 pages, which is quite short for a fantasy. That being said, Lim managed to wrap all the plot threads up without anything feeling rushed.
I believe fans of the original book will be satisfied by the story's conclusion. Maia was the heart of the first story and she remains so with the second. The story is magical and Lim is a talented writer. This novel isn't as much of a masterpiece as the first as it wasted character potential and had cliche and déjà vu moments. Even still, so many elements such as Maia's transformation, the world, the battles, and the pacing more than made up for its flaws. So, while this novel doesn't earn the 5 star rating that Spin the Dawn did, it's still a worthy follow up that makes me eager to read more from Lim in the future.