I received this book from Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
On the fringes of the Great Spice Road, 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. Then a royal messenger summons her ailing father to court, and Maia seizes her chance. Disguised as a man, she travels to the Summer Palace in her father’s place to compete for the emperor’s favour, and the coveted position of imperial tailor.
If Maia’s ruse is discovered, her life will be forfeit. But if she wins, she will achieve her greatest dream.
Yet nothing could have prepared her for the challenge ahead: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s bride-to-be. One from the laughter of the sun, one from the tears of the moon, and one from the blood of stars.
Accompanied by the mysterious court enchanter, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise, Maia’s journey will take her to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
‣ POV: 1st person
‣ Summary in Emojis: 🏯✂️👘✨🦅
‣ Trigger and Content Warnings: some violence
I really enjoyed this Mulan-esque tale of Maia, the daughter of a once-famous tailor, who takes his place in a competition to earn not only money to secure their future, but also fame and glory. I loved that Maia was so invested in herself, so proud of her work and wanting to show it of, whilst also working hard to help her family. Her motives and reasoning for everything were clear throughout and she made for a wonderful heroine you could truly root for. She has clear flaws and weaknesses but it’s admirable to see her overcome them–she would make a wonderful role model for teen readers.
This book is almost split into two parts, there’s the beginning where Maia comes to the palace to take place in the competition, which I did like, but then it transforms into this epic journey as she must travel to create three divine dresses–and this, for me, was where the story truly took off. The setting is outstanding and truly matches up to its gorgeous cover.
Regarding the romance, there is definitely a love story here but I don’t want to spoil too much about it, I will say it was very swoony and the two made a wonderful couple. I can’t wait to read more about them in the sequel!
I highly recommend this to fans of YA fantasy, it definitely stands out not just for it’s setting (which it gorgeous and fully realised), but also for its strong heroine and brilliantly thought-out plot.