Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – Review

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim just floated to the top of my favorites list.



Did you ever watch that TV show on Fox?

My wife hates it. But it was my favorite show back in the early 2000s.

There’s never been another show that’s had quite the effect on me that 24 did. I discovered the show when the series was on Season 4 or 5.

So, naturally, I picked up the DVDs of the previous seasons at my local Rental Store (Yes, those existed back then) to catch up.

24 was so addicting I found myself staying awake until 2 or 3 AM to watch “just one more episode.” I had to get up at 6 AM, but by gosh if I wasn’t determined to watch another one.

That’s Spin the Dawn for me.

It normally takes me about 5 days to read a book on average. I read Spin the Dawn in under 36 hours.

Spin the Dawn Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn Review

So what about Spin the Dawn was so addicting that I couldn’t put it down?

The book starts off unassuming enough.

I knew nothing about Spin the Dawn going in aside that it was a Mulan retelling.

The story begins with Maia Tamarin, a lowly tailor’s daughter in a male-dominated society. Her three brothers go off to war, two are killed, and a the third is gravely injured. This sends her Baba (father) into a spiral of grief that thrusts the family business onto Maia.

But there’s one problem.

Women are not allowed to run a business.

So she silently operates in the background claiming the work was completed by her father. Which works for a time until her father gets a summons to become the next Imperial Tailor for the Emperor himself.

Her father is in no condition to go and to deny the summons would bring great shame upon the family. They’ll accept any male from the house, though.

So Maia goes and pretends to be her brother.

Are you seeing the Mulan yet?

It’s way better than Mulan, though. I think Spin the Dawn is a mash-up of TWO retellings, but to reveal the second story would spoil the plot. I will just say it involves a certain gold bracelet.

That’s going to have to be enough for you.

Competitions, Quests, and Danger

Maia thinks she’s already been selected as the imperial tailor until she arrives at the palace and discovers 11 of tailors that have also been chosen.

So what happens?

They have to duke it out in a competition to see who is truly the best tailor in all the realm.

I love competition subplots.

As soon as I reached this part of the book, somewhere around Chapter 3 or 4, I instantly fell in love.

What follows is a flurry of deception, intrigue, scheming, magic, and absolute awesomeness.

I wish I could go more in-depth into what awaits you if you read Spin the Dawn, but to say anything else would be spoiling the story.

Yes, Spin the Dawn has a competition subplot, but it’s so much much more than that.


There is romance in Spin the Dawn. And the introduction of the characters involved does happen very early on. But the romance subplot itself does not being to show fruition until around the 60% mark.

It might start earlier and I’m just too dumb to have noticed, but that’s when it started to take off for me.

How this story ends and what happens is so absolutely driven by the romance of the story that you must pay attention to it.

There is no way whatsoever that you could predict the way this story would go from the first 25% of the book.

If you love books that keep you guessing around every turn, Spin the Dawn is for you.

If you love competitions, Spin the Dawn is for you.

Love romance? Spin the Dawn is for you.

But I think what is most fascinating to me about Spin the Dawn is the way the author takes a simple profession like sewing, and makes it an exciting and exhilarating story.

Spin the Dawn gets a very strong 5/5 stars from me and will easily sit at the top of my favorite reads of 2020.

Looking for more great books like Spin the Dawn?

If you loved Spin the Dawn, check out my review of City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.

2 thoughts on “Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – Review

  1. Can I please ask is the romance a heterosexual one or gay or other? The reason I ask is because I’m looking for fantasy books with a gay lead or romance at the moment. Thank u!

    1. The main character has feelings for a man while pretending to be a man herself, however, the romance subplot of the book is definitely heterosexual.

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