Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim is a fantastic story influenced by the Chinese legend of The Cowherd and the Weaver, the French story Donkeyskin and the Norwegian tale of East of the Sun. Pitch as Project Runway meets Mulan, this novel follows Maia as she disguises herself as her brother to participate in a competition to become the imperial tailor of the emperor and how she overcomes all the trials throw her way so she could prove that she is the greatest tailor in all the land.
It’s hard not to fall in love with this book. Especially when it was precisely the kind of reading I needed for my slump, it was something light and easy to read, but also with an exciting dynamic and magical background to follow. Also, the relationship between Maia and the leading love interest Enchanter Edan was so healthy. SO HEALTHY. PLEASE GIVE ME ALL THE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS IN YA, PLEASE.
Even though the book is pitched as a fashion competition meets Mulan, the competition as a whole makes up a small portion of the novel. The story’s real meat and bones is Maia’s journey to find the materials needed to make the three dresses of the goddess of their world to prevent a war from taking more lives.
There are just so many things to love about this book; while I wished there could have been more world building (I love me some heavy world-building), I am still in love with the story as a whole. Maia and Eden had very realistic and entertaining personalities, especially when they were together. I LOVE THEM, OKAY! Maia is such a strong character, and I don’t mean she can punch things, but she isn’t easily swayed from her ideals and morals. She pursues what her heart dictates even when it might not be the most logical path; she’d do anything to protect those she is loyal to. Edan is the emperor’s enchanter, and much like a genie, must follow his master’s orders and serve his oath. He is so sweet and loyal and a bit of a sad boy who needs a hug. I also adored that he also had his own dreams and was willing to fight for them.
Some might think that Maia and Edan’s romance might have been a bit instalove-y I actually did not mind it. I have read more intense instalove stories out there, which is nowhere as instant as those. Maia and Edan brought out the best in one another and empowered each other to be strong in their own way. Their romantic scenes really touched my heart, and all I want is their eternal happiness. ALSO, THEIR RELATIONSHIP IS HEALTHY. AAAAH. I can’t stress this enough. In fantasy, most male protagonists are cruel to their love interest, but not Edan. While he was mysterious and kept secrets, they were all later revealed as he and Maia grew closer.
I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a light and easy to read fantasy. It’s full of magic, diabolical beings and strong family bonds. Full of exciting plots and well-executed twists, this book will take your breath away.
Thank you to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy of this novel in exchange for a review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: 4th March 2021 (first published 9th July 2019)
RRP: $17.99 AUD
Personal Rating: 5/5