My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.
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. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh
This book was one of those that you get to the last page and just shout, frustrated that you have finished such an amazing book and must now wait what feels like an eternity for its sequel to release.
This book if reminiscent of Mulan, with the addition of djinns, and everything encompasses the trials and quests she must undertake to be the Emperor’s tailor. Maia has grown up assisting her father in their tailor shop since she was little. Her mother died when she was very young from sickness, and with the ending of the recent war, she has lost her two older brothers, and her third older brother, Keton, returns home from war crippled and changed from the once light-hearted and kind soul he was prior to departing for war. When an imperial official, Minister Lorsa, arrives at their house, demanding Maia’s father or Keton come to the castle to compete in the trials, she offers to take their place, as she is the stronger of sewers in her family. But like Mulan, this is no job fit for a woman in this era. Against her father’s wishes, she takes Keton’s place and identity to go to court.
The first series of trials, Maia is disguised as her brother, completing tasks given to the group of male tailors from Lady Sarnai, the emperor’s bride-to-be. Whoever wins the trial, not only will become the royal tailor, but will also make Lady Sarnai’s wedding dress. It is through these first set of trials that I really developed a strong hatred for Lady Sarnai. I pity her, yes. But she is a royal b*tch. She acts as most royals in this era would act, as they are god-like creatures that peasants should worship. Alright, she doesn’t outright say these things, but her attitude is this. This is why I pity her: she was never supposed to have an arranged marriage. She was in love with on of her father’s imperial soldiers. But with the treaty to end the war, she must be wed to Emperor Khanujin to unite the two sides. So we think… It is inferred that the war between Emperor Khanujin and Lady Sarnai’s father is in result of magic; the land of A’landi is rifted over the control of magic, more specifically, the magic of the Lord Enchanter.
The Lord Enchanter is similar to a genie, a djinn. He has immense power and magic, but is also under the control of the Emperor. He is unable to drift too far from his side, nor is he allowed to defy his orders, like a master to a genie’s lamp-in this case an amulet the emperor wears.
Following the first set of trials, Lady Sarnai tasks Maia with a seemingly impossible quest: make 3 wedding dresses, on e made from the sun, one of the stars, and one of the moon. There is lore to the strength and creation of said dresses, but no tailor has ever been able to survive to make the dresses as the tasks to get a piece of the sun, moon, and stars are nearly impossible. As the Lord Enchanter calls it: They are a quest that Maia must endure to both the mind, body, and soul.
When Maia sets out for her search, she is accompanied by the Lord Enchanter-having been able to sneakily work around the Emperor’s forbidding of helping Maia get the items. Along the journey, she grows closer with the Lord Enchanter (whom has known she is not a male). Their romance is precious ❤ The Lord Enchanter is so secretive of his life, perhaps because of what his life really is like as a djinn, and Maia has still carries the pain of losing her brothers and mother with her. It is this pain that follows her into the last quest of obtaining the tears of the stars. They arrive on an island filled with the whispers of ghosts and the threat of demon magic. Edan-the Lord Enchanter- cannot follow Maia through to the stars. She must venture alone with only the warning to not trust anything there.
Now this is where I get mad. She has known for ages that her mother is dead. Yet, she finds herself following what she believes to be her older brother Seton, into their tailor shop, her mother making food. That should have been a dead giveaway that this was not real but a trick of a demon. No, instead she screws around following this demon disguised as her older brother Seton and nearly gets herself killed. Had she just focused on getting the dang stars’ tears, she would not have changed the course of the next outcomes that inevitably change Edan. Let me just say this: it was at this point I screamed at my book, gently tossed it to the couch, and walked away for the day. I was that mad. I get really into books however though. The sequel will hopefully dive right into where we left off, and better have more Edan because my heart needs him.
With beautiful character development, culture, lore, magic, love, loss, betrayal, this is a must read!
Have you read this book yet? What are your thoughts?