Book Review – Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

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.


“Seize the wind. Don’t become the kite that never flies”

Maia thought that her life would be easier after she managed to create the three magical dresses of Amma, but her life only seems to be getting harder. Torn between her humanity and the demon inside her battling to get out. She will need to rely on not just her own strength, but the strength of those around her if she is to survive, not just her inner battle, but the war raging around her. But to win, she may have to give herself over and become the thing she most fears.

Unravel the Dusk picks up almost directly after the ending of Spin the Dawn. Maia has managed to create the dresses, thus cementing the marriage between The Emperor and Lady Sarnai the Shansens Daughter, Edan has disappeared after his bond with the Emperor was severed, and Maia herself is struggling with what she had to do to ensure peace for her country.

This book was a lot darker than the first. We see a whole different side to Maia, she fights so hard to keep her demon side at bay, knowing that once it wins there will be no going back. Her humanity and kindness is strong enough to make her last longer than most, but she can see and feel the changes happening. Because we have the internal insight I found it easier to bond with Maia as a character and desperately hoped that her humanity would win out. She really grows in this book, much more than the first. Though she still has an overly positive outlook on life, we see her discovering the realities of war, and that even her with her magical dresses and demonic powers may not be enough to save the Kingdom.

As well as Maia we get many more strong female characters. Lady Sarnai is not afraid to fight for what she believes in, even if that means going up against her father and potentially starting a war. Her and Maia dont have the best of relationships, but we see a grudging respect forming between the two. Ammi, Maia’s servent in Spin the Dawn is annoyed that Maia didn’t trust her enough to tell her the truth, that doesn’t mean shes going to let her go traipsing around the country alone though. For someone with no battle experience, Ammi does a fantastic job at raising Maia’s spirits and her friendship and actions were invaluable. I loved the strength of the female characters in this book, even when they were not overly likeable you couldn’t help but respect them.

Edan and Maia’s relationship gets explored more in this book, but he only really makes an appearance around half way through. Their swoon worthy interactions were one of the main reasons I enjoyed the first book so much and not to worry, there are definitely more of them in Unravel the Dusk. Though we get sweet and sarcastic Edan, we also see the strength he gives Maia to keep fighting, he will do anything to ensure she doesn’t become a demon. Even if that means fighting Bandur side by side. I enjoyed seeing his vulnerability in this book, after losing most of his magic he realises that he can’t always protect Maia from everything and that she has a power of her own.

We get treated to some epic battle scenes in this book, both magical and just run of the mill sword fights. Filled with twists and turns and some truly emotional parts at the end, I went through a rigmarole of emotions. Never sure if the happy ending I so desired was going to come to fruition. We also get the inclusion of some Asian Folklore, and with this book relying heavily on myths and magic, they added a whole new depth to the story. Making it almost seem like this could be a folklore in and of itself.

I did feel at times that Maia was a little indecisive, and I found myself struggling to keep up with her decision making in parts. I also felt that the magic system could have been explained better. I can also see some people might complain about the ending being a little too neatly tied up, but I enjoyed that. It was a nice change to get a somewhat happy ending, and the author deals with loss and grief in other ways throughout the book.

I’m so happy I got to read the ending of Maia’s story. Lim’s characters and lyrical writing style have made me a fan for life and I will certainly be picking up her other works.

8 replies »

  1. I have read a couple of neutral reviews about this one so it’s great to read yours and find that you actually enjoyed it! I haven’t read this series yet and had almost decided not to but your review is making me rethink the decision! 😇 Lovely review, Becky! Very very well written! 🦋🌻


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