Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publish Date: 01 June 2021
Page Count: 368 pages
I recently read and absolutely loved Spin the Dawn, the first instalment in Elizabeth Lim’s The Blood of Stars duology. Lim’s Asian-inspired setting is steeped in myth and the magic of gods, setting the scene for some beautiful moments.
I’ve seen mixed reviews about sequel Unravel the Dusk, so I was keen to read it for myself and share my thoughts.
I couldn’t resist including this picture of FairyLoot’s ironically candy-coloured edition of the duology; it feels entirely at odds with the tone of Unspin the Dawn. This novel is capital-D dark. Much darker than the final chapters of book one.
I can’t discuss much of the plot while avoiding spoilers for Spin the Dawn, but I’ll say that while the first book is seeded with hope, triumph and romance, Unravel the Dusk is a tale of desperation and loss.
The changes within Maia set in motion at the end of book one prove to be her key struggle, and perhaps downfall, in this instalment. Her simple dream to become a Master Tailor seems far away as she is pulled into the machinations of others, the threat of war still looming.
Many of the characters from Spin the Dawn make a return, some more surprising than others. Edan plays a slightly smaller role than I expected, though this wasn’t an issue for me. I really liked Lady Sarnai as a character, and trying to decide where she sits on the spectrum of villain and hero. Her relationship with Maia is really interesting.
Throughout the book, Maia faces bleak choices. While Lim rightly hones in on her inner turmoil because of this, I did feel that the tone of the story became a little one-note and heavily focused on foreshadowing. There were also some tenuous plot points towards the beginning of the book that I didn’t quite believe, but this seemed to resolve later in the story.
I loved the story’s conclusion, which was like observing some new celestial legend unfold. Lim really hits her stride when going to town with her spiritually-focused fantasy, and she’s written a satisfying ending to this duology.
I also loved that Unravel the Dusk frequently references the legend of a cursed Kiatan princess, which is the basis of Lim’s next duology. Six Crimson Cranes has already been described as Lim’s best work yet, and I’ll happily be revisiting her world.
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!
Trigger warnings: Death of family, ableism, bodily harm, emotional trauma, torture
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