Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Posted September 24, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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Unravel the Dusk

Unravel the Dusk

by Elizabeth Lim

Series: The Blood of Stars #2
Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers on July 7, 2020
Genre: #OwnVoices, Demons, Fantasy, Magic
Target Age Group: Young Adult

Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

 

When I finished Spin the Dawn, I was so excited for this sequel novel. Spin the Dawn checked a lot of boxes for me – the enemies to friends to lovers vibe, the three-part adventure, the girl-breaking-into-a-man’s-world-and-being-amazing trope.  After saving the kingdom in the first book, I was really expecting a level up here.

And, I feel let down, honestly.

I thought Maia’s progression was fine and the story inside her head made sense and was consistent with the happenings the previous book.  Unfortunately, I felt that Unravel the Dusk failed to really take the story to the next level.  Book one had a bit task – saving the kingdom by sewing the dresses of the Sun, Moon, and Stars.  It’s already a tall standing order.  So when most of book two revolved around saving Maia, it felt underwhelming.  Sure, we like Maia real enough, but it didn’t have the same sense of urgency.  The same weight of loss.

For me, this lowered the enjoyment of the book.  There was a lot of stuff going on off-page and a long way away from where Maia travelled and I wanted to be there where the action was happening.  Instead, the first half of the book was all uneventful travel and internal monologues and repeated fear of inevitable things, and it didn’t capture me.  It help my attention well enough – the world in itself is intriguing – but the story wasn’t memorable.  It simply, was.

I also felt Lady Sarnai was a wasted opportunity.  She was an intriguing character in the first book and mores in the second.  But since Maia and she spent so much time apart and the only see Maia’s POV, we never got to really dig into that character and see how she really ticked and her motivation and growth and fears.  We only skimmed the surface of Lady Sarnai’s character, and I feel like there was so much more.  This is one of the moments where I feel a dual POV would have served the story better, allowing Maia to complete her own journey while introducing a POV character with greater stakes in the heart of he action.

As a companion to Spin the DawnUnravel the Dusk was fine.  It is worth reading if you enjoyed the first one, but keep your expectations manageable.  In particular, this is a good story to follow for those who like the simpler things in the first book, for those who adored Maia’s character and want to see more of her, and for those who liked the Maia/Edan relationship.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★
Plot: ★★ 1/2
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★

3 Star Rating

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Unravel the Dusk Stays on the shelf

If this had been the first book in the series, or even the second book where I felt the first book was a bit meh, I probably would have offloaded this one.  But I’m also trying to be realistically about the fact that much of my disappointment about Unravel the Dusk has to do with it not eating my expectations after the first book in the duopoly.

I may read it again if I have a hankering to read the whole series, and for that reason, it gets to stick around for now.

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Which did you like better – Spin the Dawn or Unravel the Dusk?  If you disagree with me about the sequel, let’s chat!  I’m completely open to any discussions as to the things I may have missed or may not have appreciated about this book.

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2 responses to “Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one. I’ve been really looking forward to it but my library hasn’t got it yet, though all the reviews I’ve seen so far have been similar to yours. The stakes seem low in this one compared to Spin the Dawn 🙁

    • Amber

      It’s okay! 🙂 It certainly hasn’t turned me off Elizabeth Lim! Sometimes second books are like that – it just trickier in a duology because you can’t go “eh, book 2 wasn’t the best, but BOOK THREE will be GREAT”. 🙂 I hope you have a different experience when your library is able to get it and you get to read it!