Warning: Review may contain spoilers for Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim. You can read my review for Spin the Dawn here.
I was so honored to be given an advanced reader copy of Unravel the Dusk as Spin the Dawn was one of my top three reads of 2019! Unravel the Dusk did not disappoint, and was even better than Spin the Dawn in so many ways. I was completely thrilled to dive back into Maia’s story and of course see more of Edan (swoon).
Our story begins several months after the end of Spin the Dawn and Maia is struggling to hide a new secret, the secret that she is slowly turning into a demon. When we left her at the end of the last book, she was a mostly free woman – no longer hiding under the guise of being a man and she was finally receiving the recognition she deserved all along for being the incredibly talented tailor. However now, try as she might, she is failing at not giving into the pull of her dark tendencies. She’s depressed, lonely and struggling – but immensely more powerful and tougher.
The action gets rolling in the book very quickly as Lady Sarnai tries to escape before her wedding to the emperor, only to be caught and forced to proceed. Doing her duty, Maia dresses Lady Sarnai in one of her three magical dresses, only to have it almost kill Lady Sarnai. In a move of desperation, Maia steps into Lady Sarnai’s place under disguise to prevent the wedding and quickly weakening truce from completely falling apart. Unfortunately for Maia, it quickly falls apart and she’s left trying to pick up the pieces again and save her nation and loved ones from utter destruction.
Maia is torn by her two natures – her demonic curse that is calling her to return to the Isles of Lapzur and her human side who is a devoted daughter, sister, lover, and citizen of her nature who wants to save those she cares about. But which one will succeed?
Elizabeth’s writing is fluid and easy to read. It was one of the things that I loved so much about Spin the Dawn and my admiration continues through this book. Unravel the Dusk is so rich in culture and world building that it makes you feel as if you are traveling with Maia on her journey. Elizabeth’s writing draws you in and provides you a very colorful and engaging world without bogging you down in unneeded information or flowery words.
My only (minor) complaint is that we do not get to see Edan until about halfway through the book. I loved Edan so much in Spin the Dawn. He is a fantastic mix of a powerful man in his own right but still lets Maia shine. I loved the growth he encouraged in Maia and was extremely sad to see them part at the end of Spin the Dawn. While I do appreciate the need to see Maia act on her own and war with herself on what is right and wrong, I selfishly wanted Edan there helping her navigate her inner struggles. His feminist nature and support of Maia really stands out in this book that is based in a world that the men are in control and women are completely dismissed and under-valued.
Maia is such a fantastic heroine that is strikingly different than most strong women we read in YA fantasy. I sincerely appreciate Maia for her strengths and how different she is from other ‘strong’ leading ladies. While most of our heroines are fantastic fighters, sassy, and in your face – Maia is somewhat reserved, respectful and embraces her creative talents. Most of her identity is based on a craft that to us seems classically feminine, but it does not make her any less strong and her heroism and devotion to her country and her loved ones shines through in everything she does.
My understanding is that this is a duology, but I sincerely would love to see more of Maia in the future. Thank you again to Random House Children for sharing this sequel with me for my honest review!