Plot Summary: “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.” (Goodreads, 2019)
Review: I originally decided to give this book a try, because of its gorgeous cover. The vibrant colors, the hawk and the detailed fabric are stunning, not to mention the fact that after having read the book I can see how each element is crucial to the plot. The story seemed interesting, but nothing special. That’s probably why this book stayed on my to be read list until I decided to participate in the 2021 TBR Challenge. I have to say I’m glad that I did end up giving this book a try .
I spent the first third of the book feeling nostalgic as Maia’s challenges really reminded me of Project Runway, which I used to watch regularly as a child. I found myself impressed by Maia’s perseverance despite the difficulties in front of her. I also admired her desire to win on her own without resorting to the magic she unwittingly discovers. I have to say that one thing I found disappointing in this story was how easily Maia later accepted magic. It seems somewhat at odds with her character although I can see how it adds to the plot.
The last two thirds of the book focused on Maia attempting to complete Lady Sarnai’s last challenge and her love story with Edan. When it comes to Lady Sarnai’s character I’m not sure whether to dislike her or to feel sorry for her. She is placed in an awful situation, but at the same time she often treats Maia terribly. Edan and Maia’s journey was a pleasure to read both in terms of the various locales that Elizabeth Lim created and the growing closeness between the two. I enjoyed their teasing banter and how they slowly opened up to one another. They developed a lasting bond and though the story ends with them apart, I really hope that there is a happy ending in store for them.
Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5. It has all the elements I typically look for in a good book: an engaging plot, interesting and relatable characters and a good mix of romance and adventure. I recommend it and will add book 2 of the series to my to read list.
Quotes I found significant:
Tears rolled down my cheeks. not of sadness, but of the bittersweet knowledge that the Maia finishing these dresses wasn’t the same girl who started themSpin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
If he let me stay it would be a reminder of his power, of what I had lost.Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim