Aisley's Reviews, Book Reviews

Book Review: The Blood of the Stars Duology, by Elizabeth Lim

The Blood of the Stars duology has been on my TBR for so long and I finally took the time to get it read! Thankfully, the library’s hold list cooperated with me and I was able to get the books at the same time. I’m all for not waiting in between!

Synopsis

Maia Tamarin is one of the best tailors of A’Landi, however no one would know it because she is a woman and the daughter of a once-renowned tailor plagued by misfortune and grief. When the imperial tailor dies, the emperor demands that her father come to the Summer Palace to tailor for him. Master Tamarin is unable to do so, and to save her family from punishment, Maia poses as her broken legged brother, Keton, to travel to the palace and become the imperial tailor. 

But when Maia arrives at the palace, she discovers she was not there to be the imperial tailor, but to compete for the post with the most renowned tailors in all of A’Landi where the final challenge is to embark on a dangerous quest to sew the powerful dresses of the goddess Amana.

Spin the Dawn

What I liked:

I adored the setting. Everything was so vibrant and beautiful. There is something so enchanting about Eastern/Asia-based fantasy, and this book embodied exactly that. I loved the characters, the culture, and the conflict.

I also loved that this story basically started out like Mulan, but instead of recruiting soldiers, the emperor is recruiting tailors. I thought this was a wonderful spin on the idea. I also liked how the similarities ended there and the story went an entirely different direction, serving as an inciting incident, rather than serving the whole plot.

The romance was very sweet and took some twists I didn’t expect. I did not expect Maia to fall in love with who she did at all, and it didn’t feel like a bait and switch. It felt like something plausible, especially as the story went on.

Finally, the other thing that I loved about this book is that the “magical object” was something unique and that I hadn’t seen before. I really liked the idea behind it and I also loved the history of the object as well. 

What I didn’t like:

I felt that the quest part of the book felt rushed. I almost wonder what it would have been like if it had been a bit longer, just because the stuff happening on the quest felt more important than most of the competition with the tailors. Maybe that is personal preference, but either way, I felt like the point and the purpose of the book happened during the quest, or at least there could have been a better integration of the final challenge into the competition. It almost felt separate from the rest of the story somehow.

I did not appreciate the sex scene, but I’m a person who does not like sex in books. While the scene was tastefully done and very well written, I still would have preferred a fade-to-black or a cut away. 

Content Warnings

  • Violence: Medium, mostly monster fights
  • Language: Low. Minor cuss words
  • Sexual content: Medium. One sex scene, not described explicitly
  • 4/5 stars, highly recommend

Unravel the Dusk

What I liked

This book did a great job of showing the personal cost of the quest in the previous book. The consequences were so heavy and seemed so insurmountable, it had me guessing how it was going to get resolved all the way to the very end. I loved seeing the character grapple with the state they were left in.

The end of the duology wrapped up very well, I think. I felt like the ending was satisfying and suitable for all the characters.

What I didn’t like

There isn’t a lot that I would say I didn’t like, however there was a tie in to Maia fulfilling a legend in this one, but the legend didn’t feel particularly pertinent or important to the grand scheme of the book or make a difference in the overall outcome of the book. I don’t know if I was just reading too fast or if I missed something, but the “fulfilling of legend” bit in this book didn’t really work for me and felt like a shoehorn. 

Content Warnings 

  • Violence: High, takes place during a war
  • Language: Low, minor cuss words
  • Sexual content: none
  • 4/5 stars, highly recommend

What do you think?

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