Book Review: UNRAVEL THE DUSK by Elizabeth Lim

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - second book of duology



Book cover for UNRAVEL THE DUSK: Title in gold below a red-orange image of a girl in swirling silks

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I read this sequel without re-reading the first book as I was a little pressed for time (I weep at the state of my book shelves), which meant I struggled to get into it. At one point, I had to put it down and get my friend to tell me what had happened before. After that, it was easier to read because I could follow the consequences of the first book that were trickling through.

Unlike the first book, UNRAVEL THE DUSK has a constant tone throughout, which makes it feel like a much more cohesive book. Maia has clearly defined goals from start the finish and, thanks to the external war, a constant problem to deal with. It’s really useful for keeping the book going and engaging, pulling you in even when struggling to remember exactly what had happened.

The magic of the dresses is so much fun. Maia gets to fight through dressing up! Massive simplification, BUT I loved that putting on the gowns gave her such power. From danger they pose to others to the cost using each dress extracts on her, it was probably the best part of the book. We also have her struggling with the bargain she made at the end of the book, resisting the lure of the demon inside her, which puts those she loves into danger.

Lady Sarnai gets a pretty central role, railing against the marriage that will bring peace (yes, she’s in love, but still, it felt rather stroppy of her given her actions repeatedly brought war on closer). It was nice to see her and Ammi take a larger role, given how male dominated the first book was.

Edan is back, but he’s a minor part. I was never much into their romance – I just didn’t feel the chemistry – but he’s much nicer in this book, a kind, supportive guy behind her. It’s the softer, lesser romance I prefer in books, and they’re on much more even terms given she has magic and neither is holding back massive secrets.

I may re-read this duology at some point, to see if I enjoy it better back to back. Though, when that will be, I know not – too many books, too little time, and all that!

Read my reviews of other books by Elizabeth Lim:

The Blood of Stars (this series):

Six Crimson Cranes:

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