Summary: 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.
*I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review. Thanks to Randomhouse Children’s for the opportunity!*
Ok. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, and I was so wrong. It’s really good. It is a beautifully written story that has everything you could want out of a YA fantasy novel. The adventure is epic and fun, the romance is swoony, the system of magic is interesting, and the main characters are wonderfully likable. I absolutely loved the Chinese culture in this book, especially its influences on the magic system. It all works so seamlessly and transports us to a really vibrant world that I can’t wait to see more of. The whole story has a traditional folklore feel to it as well, which adds a level of maturity and simplicity in the storytelling. Maia is a great heroine and really comes into her own by the end. I loved her arc, but I do wish we could have seen it progressing a bit stronger throughout. The chemistry and tension with her love interest are fabulous from the get-go, and the pace of their relationship was perfect. The journey they take together is fun and fantastical and super fast-paced. The ending packs a punch and left me wanting more. I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and I cannot wait to see where this series goes.