Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim
ARC received via Netgalley for a fair review.
Publish date: July 9, 2019
When her father is called to work as a tailor for the emperor, but is too ill to do so, Maia steps up to the challenge. However, a girl can’t be a master tailor, so she poses as a son to do so. What she does not expect is a slew of other tailors competing for the position. She must complete a number of tasks to obtain the job and save her family.
This was a buddy read with Rae and it was the only thing that really helped me finish this book. In other words, I sorta hated it. The book is blurbed to be Projecte Runway meets Mulan. I love Mulan. It was one of the first Disney movies that was based on a story less damsel in distress and more chick kicking butt kind of story, and 11 year old me was all about it. (Side note, it was also my first DVD and I watched it over and over). So it’s not hard to say that I have been so excited about these Mulan retellings popping up, including this one. I’ve never watched Project Runway, but I’m assuming it has to do with tailoring some clothes for runway…thus the comparison. Aside from the Asian influence and the fact that Maia goes in place of her father and dresses as a boy is sort of where the comparison stops there. Based on this cover, I was honestly expecting a bird version of Mushu, and was sorta let down there too.
Okay the story, for the first 50% of the book we spend with Maia doing challenges for the Emperors bride to be. It’s boring. I mean the first challenge was like cool, fancy enchanted scissors that help her sew clothes. But the following challenges just proved that yes she can sew, and slowly building character personalities. At 50% the story drastically changes as she is sent on this journey to find materials for an impossible task.This is sort of where I actually liked the story, but also wanted to DNF. Like I said the only thing keeping me going was my BR with Rae and the fact that I was able to rant to her through each and every chapter. There were a few inconsistencies that made my brain cringe like the fact that she couldn’t get some boots wet but she was climbing up a snowy/icy mountain. I don’t know about you, but when I step in snow, something gets wet. Then she’s instructed to make a rug with one color and no fringe. What does she do?? She makes a two tone (the person who told her one color bought two colored yarn!) and what do you know, it has some tassels on it.
Then there was the romance. [INCOMING SMALL SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH]In the beginning, Maia and Edan were having this sorta fun banter going on, and while they’re on their journey suddenly their like all over each other! Like they have a deadline, and they’re riding around on horses and can’t stop kissing, their proposing to court for 1000 days, and then blabbing on about getting married, having babies, what they would sacrifice for each other. LIKE WHOA SLOW DOWN THERE GIRL, you guys just confessed your feelings the last chapter.
Sometimes the descriptions of the characters actions were off to me as well. Like they were on this time crunch to do these tasks, right? Not after they start hooking up! Then it’s like skipping down the road and making out. At one point, she talks about how they couldn’t stop kissing no matter if they were walking or riding on their horses. HOW? How do you make out while riding a horse and not fall off?
Oh and speaking of horses? She brought her sewing with her. That’s right. She’s on this journey for two months across deserts and what have you, and she’s sewing gowns….that she isn’t worried about getting damaged or dirty. She’s sewing dainty pearls on a dress while traveling on a camel across the desert! I know, she’s got time to kill, but how did that sewing make it so far without getting…dirty? She doesn’t even have water to wash herself, yet she’s clean enough to sew a beautiful gown?? Nah, I’m not buying it.
And lastly, another thing that bothered me was consistency. In the beginning of her journey, Edan told her the first thing she would have to obtain for the dresses, but then they don’t actually do that. I was so confused by the first task that I had to go back and read what was happening and was a little peeved. Then they went on to continue to do some magical quest sort of thing that she definitely wouldn’t have been able to accomplish. In fact, I’m not sure how anyone would be able to accomplish said tasks without magic or knowledge to begin with.
Someone please just explain all these things to me away so I can like this book like everyone else seemed to. 🙁
The World Building
Okay, so I did like the world building. I loved the descriptions of the countryside, the magic, and overall the idea behind the enchanters. There were a few gaps in the information that I can brush aside, because as the story progressed we are slowly revealed more and more.
My favorite part was the folklore, and the challenges that corresponded with them. They sort of gave me this Start Touched Queen or The Queen’s Thief sorta vibe. How their was this folklore that was actually true, and our protagonist had to accomplish something around it. I like that, it gives the world building so much more involvement in the story as opposed to a made up history or landscape as a backdrop.
Maia is cool. Strong is how she is described in the book and I think that is an accurate descriptor for her. She’s strong willed, but so much more. She’s loyal to her family and has a lot of determination. I can respect her for that. However, I couldn’t help myself reading as she dealt with her romantic emotions. I always find it funny when someone is constantly having fluttering in their stomach, and aches in their chest, and burning up. From a medical profession I always think the person has IBS, a heart condition or even a urinary tract infection. Okay, she’s getting butterflies because she likes someone. But don’t make her ignorant to the feelings and have her wonder why she’s feeling like that. And maybe have her understanding and reaction be a little more gradual? It went from entirely neutral to really clingy. I love hate to love, but those are a little more understandable since their such extreme feelings, so it was hard for me to go along with the stark contrast in the romantic end.
Edan was sort of…annoying. I feel like the witty flirtatious character is for someone, but sometimes I can only take so much. Here was this 500+ year old man who looked young, so was frequently referred to as a “boy” and I just wanted to shake the characters and say he’s a grown ass man! On top of that, we are to believe that in 500 years he has never met anyone special? The way he was talking too just made me cringe, my initial reaction was too fast, too furious. I just really hated their relationship. From witty banter to can’t resist anymore wasn’t fluid at all to me. I just felt like there was 50% of book where the transition could have been smoother to where I actually cheered them on, or felt like they were even compatible.
Banks – Beggin for Thread