Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA fantasy + romance
Length: 392 pages
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
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.
THE MASH-UP I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED.
Ohhhhh I’m so happy I picked up this debut! Mulan? Project Runway? TOGETHER?
IT WORKED SO WELL. I got all of the Mulan vibes (my favorite Disney movie, by the way) from Maia’s actions and decisions. Then add in the competition to be the best tailor where there were even unconventional materials challenges?! Yessssss. The vibes this book gave off alone gave it a star. This was exactly what the synopsis gave me.
Maia and Edan were absolutely precious too. I had seen on multiple reviews that the banter is on point, and I’m here to put my vote in that THEY’RE RIGHT. It’s witty, sassy, and so stinkin’ cute. I really liked the way their relationship developed. I was surprised by a few bits of information about Edan that reminded me of other books and I was cool with it. I liked those additions and thought it gave another layer to who Edan is.
The adventure that these two went on was magical and enchanting. I was surprised that this was able to take only one book. I think it could have expanded into more if it wanted and still been captivating. Since this plot kind of wrapped up I’m curious where the next story will take us.
This is one of those typical YA fantasy books that WORKS. It’s why I love and read the genre regularly. The writing is delightful, the romance is on point, and the story is full of magic. I loved the world-building and the way the magic is set-up. Maia is such an easy character to love. I appreciate her loyalty to her family and how everything circles back to them. She’s brave, but also able to accept help. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
Overall audience notes:
- Young adult fantasy
- Language: none
- Romance: some kisses, make-outs, one or two fade to black, barely any detail love scenes
- Violence: magic, fire, physical, arrows