Book Review: SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: yes - book 1 of duology


spin the dawn

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


SPIN THE DAWN is a fun, engaging read. I loved reading about a heroine whose proudest skill is a creative art, as these are often regarded as “too feminine” for heroines. Instead, creativity is celebrated and informs the world as we see it through Maia’s perspective. This is conveyed in luscious writing, full of evocative colour that paints the world.

There’s real chemistry between the two leads, but it doesn’t overpower the story. It’s more a subtle hum in the background as she completes the tasks that slowly builds until it informs an important choice. I much prefer romance to be this way!

I have no skill with a needle and my attempts in textiles at school were pitiful to say the best – so I cannot say whether the tailoring was accurate. However, it felt so authentic, the way Maia worked with cloth or embroidered a flower. The writing was such that I felt like an expert alongside Maia as she worked – just enough technical terms explained through context rather than being told that I felt included with the master tailors in their craft.

The second half/two-thirds really reads like a different book. The first part is the competition with the twelve other tailors and reads like a competition book – all the sabotage and tension of competitors around her as she completes the challenges set by the Princess. Then comes the second section of the book, and it transitions to an adventure.

I had been warned by the friend I’d borrowed the book from, so it wasn’t a terrible surprise, but it was a little disconcerting to go from this competition to her travelling the country. The main jolt was not having defined threats and stakes. The overall stake was clear, but instead of competitors to worry about, it was bandits and the world, which felt less real and immediate.

The main story arc is closed by the book, but it also hints at the major stake of the second. I’m interested to see what comes next!

Read my reviews of other books by Elizabeth Lim:

The Blood of Stars (this series):

Six Crimson Cranes:


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