Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Title: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Release Date: 9 July 2019

Rating: 4/5 stars



The moment I saw this cover, I knew I had to read it. The moment I read that it was a Mulan meets Project Runway story, I knew I had to own the physical copy of this book.

The hype leading up to this made me so nervous.

What if my expectations were too high? What if I expected too much from this book and I end up disappointed?

Well, friends, I most definitely was not disappointed.

We follow Maia, a young woman who has incredible sewing talents, as she competes for the position of the Imperial Tailor. But it’s especially hard for Maia, a young woman in a world that thinks a woman’s worth is based on her marriage.

The story spares no time as it throws us into Maia’s world, where she and her family are no strangers to hardship. The opportunity to become the Imperial Taylor is too good to miss, and the journey Maia takes to reach her goal is beautiful.

The story truly was as beautiful as the cover.

Good underlying messages/ themes:

  • Your worth is not determined by your gender.
  • People are not always who they seem at first glance.
  • Hard work combined with determination will pay off.

A whole star for this category!

Realistic characters and growth:

Maia, as a character, isn’t very memorable for me, but I do love how the author chooses sewing as her talents. In lots of books, the heroines insult things like sewing and cooking and things like that. This book embraces the sewing and explores the art of it. Maia isn’t afraid of the feminine aspects of it; she sews because she loves it.

The writer did an incredible job with the romance between Maia and Edan, in my opinion. If the relationship was written poorly, I would immediately have dismissed the romance as insta-love.

This, thank goodness, was not the case.

The romance between Edan and Maia was sweet and innocent and sad and precious at the same time, and I loved reading about them!

I really wished we could see more of Lady Sarnai and the Emperor Khanujin. I feel like there is a lot of tension between them, and with Lady Sarnai doing everything she can to postpone the wedding, I think their interactions would have been wildly entertaining to read.

Seize the wind. Don’t become the kite that never flies.

I loved Maia’s family and was genuinely sad when I read about their deaths. It shows you how Maia has become the sole provider for their family and how she would risk everything to help them.

I feel like the side characters were ignored a little. Their characters fell a bit flat for me and I hoped that they would be imbued with a little personality as the story continued.

Half a star for this category.

Interesting Story:

This book didn’t feel like almost 400 pages.

It almost felt like 3 different books, which I suppose why the book is divided into 3 parts. Each part follows a different story and I liked that. There was a clear direction in which the story was going and there were clear goals the characters needed to achieve.

This felt like a fairy tale for me. With how Maia disguised herself as a boy, how she journeyed to find the 3 items for Lady Sarnai’s dresses. I loved it; it made me feel like I was little again and reading a magical story!

A whole star for this category!

Fantastic World Building:

I had some issues with the world building, to be honest.

To begin with, there wasn’t much of it.

That sounds horrible, but that’s how it felt to me. We have no background of the country, no history, no concrete reason for the war that took half of Maia’s family. I feel like that should have been important.

I have absolutely no idea where anything is, though the beautiful map at the beginning helped loads. I feel like we don’t get much description of the people or what they wore, or of the hierarchies people use.

It is an illusion to assume we choose whom we love.

I did, however, love the magic in this world. It’s not explosive, it’s not all-in-your-face. It’s rather a more subtle kind that is mostly used for good. We do hear that there are bad sides to it and I hope we explore that side more in the sequel!

Half a star for this category.


I already mentioned how this story made me feel like I was a little girl again, reading a fairy tale. The atmosphere this book has makes it feel magical, like I was reading the story with stars in my eyes.

There’s something I noticed early on in the book: the use of exclamation marks in the narrative. Do have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve seen an exclamation mark in a book apart from the dialogue? It made the story feel even more whimsical!

All legends have a spark of truth. Sometimes more than a spark.

I also mentioned how Maia’s family’s deaths hit surprisingly hard. We don’t even really get to know them deeply, but it’s still incredibly sad.

The relationship between Maia and Edan had me smiling wide, and the end gave me chills.

A whole star for this category!

That’s it!

Have you read Spin the Dawn? What did you think?

Till we meet again!

Xx Alexia

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