Hi everyone! Toady I am so excited to post my spotlight of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim for the Tour The World In 30 Days blog tour! Learn more about the tour and keep scrolling for an introduction to the world of Spin the Dawn!
Tour the World in 30 Books is a blog tour hosted by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den in support of her local public library’s Diverse Book Drive. It’s in conjunction with a Diverse Book Drive hosted by the CCPL—a small, rural library in an area with a high poverty rate and a very homogeneous population, where people rarely have the means to travel or experience new perspectives. However, the library doesn’t believe that should stop people from learning more about the world around them, so they’re running a Diverse Book Drive through the month of September in an attempt to bring the rest of the world to the county instead. With a focus on MG and YA books, the CCPL aims to expose especially its young patrons to new and diverse perspectives and cultures.
How You Can Help:
Sammie has created a wish list for every book included in this blog tour. You can support the library by purchasing a book off of one of the lists below. (Hardbacks are preferred but not required). There are only a few more left to be purchased!
You can also find the library’s overall wish list here:
For the rest of this post, I am going to talk about my featured book, Spin the Dawn, and the influences behind it according to interviews with Elizabeth Lim. First, here is an introduction or refresher on what the book is about.
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.
In multiple interviews, Elizabeth Lim mentions that she wrote Spin the Dawn because she could rarely find Chinese-inspired fantasy as a child. As an adult, she has decided to write it herself. Multiple inspirations shaped the book that the author has shared in the past. For example, Lim’s grandmother was a seamstress, which inspired her to write Maia as a tailor. And that she was inspired by the The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s China: Through the Looking Glass for the gowns that Maia creates. (Exhibit 208 particularly is how she pictures a certain dress in the novel). The final inspiration I found and the one I want to discuss more in this post is the fairytales Lim’s father read to her growing up. Three in particular influenced the story of Spin the Dawn. Below, I will introduce you to each one, summarize it, and provide links to learn more.
1. The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl (Chinese)
This tale begins when a young cowherd discovers seven fairy ladies bathing in a lake. His ox encourages him to steal the clothes of one, so she can not flee and will become his wife. Six of the sisters flee back to the heavens abandoning the seventh (the Weaver Girl), who agrees to marry the Cowherd. They live happily together for years until the Goddess of Heaven orders the Weaver Girl to return.
When the Cowherd releases his wife has been taken, his ox tells him to kill and take his hide, which will allow him to travel to Heaven to be with his wife. When the Goddess of Heaven sees the Cowherd nearing the Weaver Girl, she angrily draws a line in the sky that becomes the Milky Way to separate the lovers forever. Once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh moon, all the magpies in the world create a bridge for the lovers to cross and be together.
There are many versions of this tale. You can find a couple of them here and here.
2. Donkeyskin (French)
In Donkeyskin, there is a wealthy king with a beautiful wife and a donkey who produces gold instead of excrement. When the queen becomes gravely ill, she makes her husband promise to only marry another as beautiful and wise as she, assuming he would never find such a woman. After her passing, the king quickly realizes that his daughter is the only woman who fits this description. The princess, who does not want to marry her father, attempts to make impossible requests of him, such a dress as bright as the sun, a dress the color of the moon, a dress the color of the sky, and finally, the skin of his magic donkey. One by one, he grants her requests, leaving her no choice but to run away using the donkey skin as a disguise.
One day, a prince spots her without her donkey skin disguise as she is trying on the dresses her father gave to her. He instantly falls in love with her, declaring the only thing that will keep him from being sick with longing is her baking a cake for him. While she is baking, she accidentally drops her ring into the batter, resulting in the prince finding it in his cake. He tells the king and queen he will only marry the woman who fits the ring he found. No one’s finger can fit the ring until the princess arrives. She and the prince are married and her father begs for her foreignness after seeing the error of his ways.
You can find the full story here.
3. East of the Sun and West of the Moon (Norwegian)
In this fairytale, a peasant man trades his daughter to a White Bear who offers him riches in exchange for her. The White Bear takes her to his castle and becomes a man at night, although she never sees him. When visiting home, the girl’s mother tells her she must take a candle and look upon the man in case he is a troll. The girl does so and finds out he is a handsome prince. He wakes when the wax drips on his shirt. He tells her now that she has seen him, he must go to the castle of the enchantress who cursed him east of the Sun and west of the Moon and marry her troll daughter. The next morning he is gone.
The girl goes in search of him and begins to ask strangers if they know where the castle east of the Sun and west of the Moon is. They each say no but give her three gifts made of gold. Eventually, the girl meets the North Wind, who brings her to the castle. The girl meets the troll princess and offers her the three gifts in exchange for three nights with the prince. Together they come up with a plan to free him. The prince declares that he will only marry the one who washes the drops of wax from his shirt. Since trolls cannot do so, the girl is the one who cleans it and frees the prince.
Read the full story here.
I hope you enjoyed learning about these folktales and fairytales that inspired Spin the Dawn as much as I did. If you have already read the book, do you see the influence of these stories in Spin the Dawn? If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you have fun noticing the references as you read! Thank you for reading my post and supporting CCPL! The full blog schedule is below if you are interested in finding out about our diverse reads.
Blog Tour Schedule:
Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den – Introduction, Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Dating Makes Perfect
Lauren @ Always Me – The Epic Crush of Genie Lo
Toya @ The Reading Chemist – Felix Ever After
Michelle @ Carry A Big Book – Sharks in the Time of Saviors
Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA – The Astonishing Color of After
Maria @ A Daughter of Parchment and Paper – Patron Saints of Nothing
Bri @ Bri’s Book Nook – True Friends (Carmen Browne)
Bec @ bec&books – Lobizona
Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story – Top Ten Diverse Stories Jorie Felt Deeply Connected To Whilst Reading
Sienna @ Daydreaming Book Lover – Loveless
Kerri @ Kerri McBookNerd – Raybearer
Noly @ The Artsy Reader – The Name Jar
Jacob @ The Writer’s Alley – Forest of Souls
Keri @ Are You My Book – The Tea Dragon Society
Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight – The Space Between Worlds
Melissa @ Ramblings of a Jedi Librarian – Girl in Translation
Livy @ Shelves of Starlight – Clap When You Land
Crystal @ Lost in Storyland – American Born Chinese
Lili @ Lili’s Blissful Pages – A Wish in the Dark
Leslie @ Books Are The New Black – The Poppy War
Noura @ The Perks of Being Noura – Love From A to Z
Crini @ Crini’s – A Pale Light in the Black
Rachelle @ Rae’s Reads and Reviews – Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
Dini @ DiniPandaReads – Wicked As You Wish
Madeline @ Mad’s Books – Spin the Dawn
Tessa @ Narratess – Brace Yourself
Kimberly @ My Bookish Bliss – Truly Madly Royally
Rena @ Bookflirting 101 – Anna K: A Love Story
Susan @ Novel Lives – Burn the Dark
Arina @ The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the Galaxy – A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Maya @ Awesome Reads – Jackpot
3 thoughts on “Tour The World In 30 Books: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim”
Awesome post! Spin the Dawn is such an awesome book and I loved every second of it! I also love that it’s inspired by these lesser-known fairytales and I’m sad that I never knew about these stories before because they’re so interesting! I’m actually surprised there haven’t been more retellings for these stories because I can definitely see them being made into great YA fantasies! 😍 Thanks for sharing these awesome bits about the book!
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Thanks for checking out my post! I would love to see more retellings for these stories too! There’s so many folktales and fairytales to draw from! I love to learn about new ones!