Unravel the Dusk | Review // A book literally about fighting inner demons

Greetings readers!

Today I am bringing to you a review of one of my anticipated sequels of 2020 and I am glad to say that I enjoyed it very very much!

*Many thanks to Penguin Teen CA for the ARC!*

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Unravel the Dusk  (The Blood of Stars, #2)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 7th, 2020
Publisher: Knopf

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

The Likes

Maia continued to be a great MC in this book! But unlike book one which was more self-discovery, this one was definitely a self-recovery as we dived deep into her inner character. It’s a battle against forces outside and within herself as she faces the dark power growing within her. Her old self, the one with that had a heart of gold, is slowly decaying and just reading about that self-destruction she has chosen to undertake for her country is quite inspiring. I’m not sure how many of us can say we would willingly turn ourselves into demons for the sake of defeating a demonic tyrant. And I’m not sure how many of us can say we’d fight tooth and nail out of said demon clutches to restore our humanity again. Suffice to say that she goes through some stuff.

Eden was still very mysterious and a Tragic Magic Boy. AND he is a serious Tragic Magic Boy in this one let me tell you! His relationship with magic was a really important point for his development in this story. I think his POV would have been an interesting element to have in the book as well. Just to see what was running around in his thoughts when he had to face the consequences for his past actions.

Then there are other characters who just…get in the way of happiness and make things interesting. The demons, the Shansen, the emperor, they all make for a great series of antagonists that just keep coming to kill the joy. And yeah I’m saying that this is one of the things I liked because it means that the story isn’t so clean simple to barrel through. They put up some great challenges for our MCs to conquer.

While there was a heavy focus on Maia’s inner journey there was also travelling happening in the outside world too. We get to see more places and learn new magic happenings. We learn more stories about the magical creatures roaming the land. There are some epic battles fought with enemies of both the magic kind and the human kind. Maia may not be a warrior but she doesn’t have much of a choice but to take up this fight anyways. She is still a tailor who wields a wicked pair of scissors and that counts for something! That being said I like how we got to see the penalties of using magic for reasons beyond making a simple stitch and instead to fight a demon, whether it be for good or bad.

Y’all this book had the angst too! Not only in terms of the lovers destined for doom but just for the sake that Maia is literally turning into a demon and losing her memories. And then we get to this very emotional scene and I was just saying omg omg omg the whole time. So be aware that this book does come with the emotional baggage you would expect to come from a story about a girl who is fighting to not lose who she is. 

In the midst of writing this review I JUST HAD THE TITLE EPIPHANY AND OH MY GOD. I get it now and it is quite genius.  And since I’m here I might as well talk about the cover secrets because Y’ALL the cover has lots of secrets about the book and I loved flipping back to cover as I read and pointing out the things I recognized.

My biggest mistake with this series was not rereading book 1 because I had only vague memories of the final plot points! Despite not remembering everything though, Lim did a good job of jogging the memory of readers. I still think it would have benefited me to do a reread though so I could have really appreciated all the connections.

The Questionable

I feel like the solution to the political problems was a little too rash and unrealistic. I mean I question a lot about how this country will readjust and I just don’t think I quite believe it. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of Lady Sarnai. I’m not sure I liked her in book 1, but this one. I don’t know. I felt bad for her at points in time, but other times she just….mmm…..no. I didn’t feel very warm things towards her.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was a deep dive into one Maia’s inner turmoil as she fights to save the ones that she loves and not lose herself in the process. The writing and storytelling is still as magical as it was in book 1. Lim did an incredible job of creating such a rich world and dynamic characters to fall in love with. I personally cannot wait for her next book which is based on a legend that was told in this book AND I LOVE IT WHEN BOOKS CONNECT!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? How beautiful is this cover? Do you enjoy reading stories about a character’s inner turmoil?

*Link to the master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter movements and other humanitarian movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


Spin the Dawn |Review // This book. This. Book. Ahhhhhh

Greetings readers!

One of the many, many flaws I possess, according to my mother, is that I cannot sew. Correction: I cannot sew properly. I can do a sloppy job of it, but actually doing a clean seam is beyond my abilities.

Alas, I still read this book which was all about sewing. And it was quite something. Quite something.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Knopf
Price: $24.99 CAD

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

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.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon

*My thanks goes out to Penguin Teen CA for providing me with an ARC*

I had the lovely opportunity to buddy read this with my fabulous friend, Mandy @ BookPrincessReviews. Considering our last two buddy reads went less than spectacular, we were pretty stoked knowing that this book came with such good buzz! And we are both so happy that we both actually enjoyed the book this time!

The Likes

The Characters

Maia: Ohhhh I loved her. I loved her. She was truly a fantastic MC to follow. She grew up in a house full of brothers who loved and doted on her. She had a mother, who was taken too early, but adored her so much as well. And her father who taught her almost everything she knows about being a seamstress. I loved the way she treasured and practically carried her family in the toughest of times, especially as a woman in a trade meant for men. I loved that she literally risked it all for her family, even if on the inside she knew that she really wanted to risk everything for her own aspirations. I loved her honesty because she literally couldn’t lie to save her life.

Edan: I pitched it to Mandy that he was a Tragic Magic boy and honestly I still stand by it. He was all charm and you guys all know how much of a sucker I am for the charming, borderline annoying ones. He was mysterious and harbored lots of secrets, some of which we get into. He was an interesting character to have around as more than just simple a love interest. His role was pivotal to the politics of the book too, which are quite tricky to maneuver.

Others…There aren’t many. The other tailors in the competition are not at all what they seem at first glance. Trust me, keep yer eyes on them. Then there are the emperor and Lady Sarnai, who were quite, quite not at all who they seemed to be!!!

The World

It was so, so rich. And we go everywhere–well most everywhere. It was incredibly fascinating to explore the different landscapes that the characters live in and journey. You get a sense of the difference in lifestyle between the royal characters and the civilians. The politics of the world are communicated very well. The society is suffering after a war and the court machinations in the palace may not be helping at all. It is a seducing setting no doubt.

The Plot

I loveeeeeeeeee competition books. And I also adore quest books. And this story was literally the best of both worlds.

The first part was all about Maia making it as a tailor and passing all the tests in order to serve Lady Sarnai as her official tailor. It was soooooo crazy and cool at the same time. It was a cutthroat killer competition about sewing!!! Sewing! I loved the challenges that they got, with materials so unconventional that I applaud Lim’s imagination for creating pretty pieces (even if they are just being described in words 😉 )

Then came the journey which takes up a chunk of the novel. it comes with three pivotal challenges that Maia has to pass in order to A) survive and B) become the Imperial tailor. It was full of danger and intrigue and risk. I know they have a lot of down time during this part of the book, but I didn’t mind. I lived for every moment between Maia and Edan.

It lived up to its selling points

Mulan x Project Runway. Let me tell you. This book is most definitely Mulan x Project Runway in every way that you can think and beyond. Maia had such a moment when she cuts her hair, I actually screeched a little bit to myself. It might not have had dramatic music in the background, but it was no less intense and magical.

I’ve already talked about the tailoring competition, but I cannot stress how Project Runway it truly is! So much talent, trash talking and crazy amazing dresses. The tailor competition is a little (a lot) more umm bloody, but still. Amazing. And the PR vibes run beyond just the competition. Maia’s skill is so wonderfully explored, I would LOVE to wear any of her creations!


This stunning cover gives a lot more away than you might think. I’m screaming.

The Romance

I didn’t think we’d get that far with them in this book, but neither Maia nor I could resist Edan’s charm! I loved them together. I truly did. Mandy is right when she says that they goes back and forth a little too much, but I was swooning the whole way there. AND OF COURSE THINGS GET ROUGH TOWARDS THE END. But I still truly love them together!!!

The Questionable

Just one tiny thing. The antagonist(s) were a little lack luster. Um I wanted a little more sleeziness and creepiness and well villain power. They were a little too mellow for me, even though they caused plenty of trouble for our dear characters. So I lacked that drama. However, I think we are gonna get a lot more from them in the sequel!!!

Overall, I loved this book. I loved the ending because it is not at all what I expected and it has been a while since I have been surprised by a book! I also LOVED that Lim put in this little excerpt before chapter one that when I read it again after having read the whole book…it just transformed the whole experience for me.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars


Let me know what you think! Are you excited for this book? How easily do you trust comps/selling points? How stunning do you think this cover is? Can you sew, are you any skilled in tailoring?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


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