Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim: FAQ and Character Overview

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Spin the Dawn is a young adult fantasy novel by Elizabeth Lim first published in July 2019. It is Lim’s debut novel and since then, she has continued on to write multiple books with much more to come. 

In this article, you can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the book and its characters. Any spoilers will be marked clearly, so don’t worry if you haven’t read the book yet.

What is this novel about?

Spin the Dawn tells the story of a young Maia Tamarin, who dreams of becoming the best tailor in the land. As a girl, her dream is close to impossible.

However, when presented with the chance, she travels to the Summer Place in her father’s place to compete for the position of imperial tailor – all the while disguised as a man.

Accompanied by the mysterious court enchanter, Maia’s journey takes her on an adventure where she will find more than she ever could have imagined. 

Is Spin the Dawn a standalone, a part of a duology, or a series?

Spin the Dawn is the first book in the Blood of Stars duology.

The second book – Unravel the Dusk – came out a year later, in July 2020.

The sequel has a completely different, but equally epic, adventure that fans of YA fantasy will likely enjoy.

Furthermore, since the duology is finished, it makes for a perfect series to binge-read.

Is this book a retelling?

Yes, Spin the Dawn is a Mulan retelling. However, I can assure you that it is still a completely new and unique story.

Does Spin the Dawn have a map?

spin the dawn map

Yes, Spin the Dawn has a gorgeous map featuring the kingdom of A’landi pictured above!

Does this book have an enemies-to-lovers romance?

Spin the Dawn does have an enemies-to-lovers romance, however, it is very quick-paced. They go over the enemies part very quickly, and then it does take a while for things to progress but it’s still fairly fast.

If you’re looking for a nice, simmering, slow burn in particular, I would recommend searching for something else.

The romance is still so much fun to read about and the banter between the main couple will keep the readers on their toes.

Trigger Warnings

Death, the threat of sexual assault, comments displaying homophobia, violence and blood, as well as imprisonment are all things you should be mindful of when picking this book up yourself or recommending it to others.

Does Spin the Dawn feature LGBTQ+ content or characters?

No, there is not LGBTQ+ representation in this book.

There is actually some homophobia since people think Maia is a man herself and is thought to be in a relationship with a man, and they face minor backlash from it.

Who is the love interest in this novel? 

While it is fairly obvious from the summary of the book alone, below is a mild spoiler, so scroll if you don’t want to know!

The love interest of Maia in the book is Edan, the court magician.

Spin the Dawn Kiss


While they do tease each other and come close to intimate moments, the first proper kiss shared between Edan and Maia is in chapter 24. After that, they exchange quite a few of them during their journey. 

Below you can find an excerpt from the chapter. 

His voice became even softer, if that was possible. “Then again, none of the girls were you.” My knees wobbled then, and my scowl fell out of place. “Me?”

“You’re quite oblivious at times, my xitara.”

“Stop teasing me,” I said, my lower lip quivering. “It isn’t funny.”

Edan’s broad shoulders tensed, but his eyes–his deep, sapphire eyes–were clear. “I tried to tell you, but I thought–” He inhaled. The Edan I knew was never at a loss for words.

“Thought what?”

He took a step closer to me. “I thought you found me disagreeable.” Another step. “I do,” I said, my breath catching in my throat.

Edan’s gaze burned through me, and despite what I was saying, my body did not rebel against his coming closer. “Highly disagreeable. And impossible.”

“And arrogant,” Edan murmured. Our noses touched. “Let’s not forget arrogant.”

“How could I?” I said breathlessly.

He drew me close, practically lifting me off my feet, and kissed me. His lips pressed against mine. Gently at first, then with increasing urgency as I started to respond with my own need.


In this section, we’ll go over the main characters of Spin the Dawn and take a closer look at them. This part will be spoiler-free and has just general information we learn quickly upon being introduced to them.


Spin the Dawn Fanart Drawing
Fanart of Maia

Maia Tamarin is the main character of the book, and we follow the story from her point of view.

At 18 years of age, Maia has always been ambitious to become the imperial tailor. She has her father, Kalsang Tamarin, to thank for the hard training in sewing that has led her to become a master in her craft.

Maia cares a lot for her family, and truly is a selfless person since she is willing to sacrifice a lot for her loved ones.

Overall, with her relatable character, talentedness, and braveness, Maia is an easy-to-love heroine.


The second main character who we follow a lot throughout the story is Edan.

He is the court magician and enchanter. His character is truly a mysterious persona whose shell is hard to crack open at first.

He quickly takes interest in the competition to choose the next tailor for the emperor, and through that, also Maia.

With sapphire eyes, tousled black hair, and a quick wit, Edan is a perfect candidate to be anyone’s new heartthrob book boyfriend to thirst over.

What does ‘xitara’ mean in Spin the Dawn?

Edan quickly nicknames Maia as Xitara. It is later revealed that this means the Brightest One in a language Edan grew up speaking. (Isn’t this just adorable?!)

Lady Sarnai

Lady Sarnai is the drop-dead gorgeous bride-to-be of the Emperor. She seems to have a cold and cruel personality, but maybe there is more to her than it seems.

Emperor Khanujin

Emperor Khanujin is the ruler of A’landi and he is the fiancee of Lady Sarnai. The Emperor is a cruel man, albeit a good ruler. According to many, he is quite the charmer with his dashing good looks.

Spin the Dawn and Six Crimson Cranes

Six Crimson Cranes is the first book in a new series by Elizabeth Lim. It is set in the same world as Spin the Dawn, only centuries before and is its own story entirely.

Six Crimson Cranes is mostly a retelling of the Wild Swans, but apparently, Lim has also taken influence from several other fairy tales and East Asian folktales.

Six Crimson Cranes also features the same dream-like writing style with beautiful magic and gorgeous world-building and storytelling, so it is certainly worth reading as well.

Similar books to Spin the Dawn

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

This book is a contemporary YA fantasy with Hindu mythology. If you liked the magical competition aspect of Spin the Dawn, this book is for you!

With a competition that has a lot riding on it, characters that make you question their true intentions, and beautiful worldbuilding, this book reads just like a fairy tale, similar to Spin the Dawn.

This standalone doesn’t get nearly enough love it deserves, so I highly recommend it!

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Character dynamics in this standalone remind me very much of those in Spin the Dawn. With enemies-to-lovers, a handsome magician, and an epic adventure that forces our main characters to work together, this book is perfect for fans of Spin the Dawn.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Also a YA fantasy book inspired by a Chinese legend, this book also has enchanting storytelling, with some page-turning romance, disguising oneself, and powerful magic. All this makes for a perfect book to pick up after Spin the Dawn!

Thank you for reading!

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