Sunday, December 1, 2019

Spin the dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Maia is the youngest member of her family, surrounded by her father and three older brothers.  Her father is an accomplished tailor, creating stunning outfits for the wealthy and noble from their shop in the city of Gangsun, one of many cities and towns on the Great Spice Road.  They are a well known and respected family, and the future seems bright, until their mother dies and Baba's grief overtakes him.  As the grief overtook him the quality of his work dropped and two of the brothers convinced him to move the family to a shophouse in Port Kamalan - a fresh start for all of them.  More grief and despair followed them, as one by one Maia's oldest brothers were pulled into the war that was ravaging their home land of A'landi.  Then her last brother ran away to join the war, leaving Maia to care for her father and the family business.  

When the war finally ends all that is left of their family is Baba, Maia, and the youngest brother - crippled from his final battle.  The future looks grim, but then an unexpected visitor appears demanding that Baba or one of his sons present themselves to the Emperor at the Summer Palace, because the Emperor is in need of a Master Tailor.  What the official doesn't know is that the garments that captured the attention of the Emperor were made by Maia and not her father, and that she is willing to risk everything to help her family.  Disguised as her brother, Maia travels to the Summer Palace to find that she is not the only tailor, and that she must compete for the prized position of Imperial Tailor.  

Unprepared for the cut throat politics of the Imperial Court, Maia struggles to keep her place in the competition.  As the tasks get harder and harder, Maia reluctantly picks up the gift her father gave her just before she left - a pair of tailors scissors that can do wondrous things.  As the number of competitors dwindles it becomes clear that not everyone is playing by the same rules, and that the future Empress is determined to stall her marriage as long as possible.  Winning the competition is not enough, the winner will have to face an epic challenge that is the stuff of myth and legend - and the other competitors don't hide the secrets that Maia does, secrets that could mean her life if she is uncovered.  With surprising allies on her side, Maia is in the fight of her life, and losing is not an option.

It is challenging to review Spin the dawn because there are some little twists and surprises that would be spoilt if I revealed them, but revealing them would make for a better book review than the one I have written which may seem a little stilted and lacking in wow factor.  Spin the dawn is extremely well written with characters that you connect with straight away and a storyline that brings together the mythical and a slightly nagging feeling that you might have heard or read this story before (which is a positive not a negative!).  From the start you are drawn into Maia's world and the tragedy of her family, her sense of honour, and the highly political world she is dragged into.  The fact Maia is so innocent of the 'real' world makes for some interesting moments and makes her more endearing, and as an adult sometimes very indignant on her behalf.  The other characters of her world are equally interesting, and she Elizabeth Lim has put an interesting spin on some of the mythology which makes it uniquely hers and opens the reader to all sorts of possibilities.  

I am eagerly looking forward to the release of Unravel the dusk to see what is next for Maia and her world.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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