Series: The Blood of Stars #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 9, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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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’m starting this review off strong by confidently stating that currently, this is my FAVORITE book of 2019.
No really. I loved EVERYTHING about this book. The characters were interesting and varied. The plot was fresh and clever and fun. The writing was exceptionally readable and descriptive. The romance was well paced and delightful.
The synopsis says “Project Runway meets Mulan” and to be honest, that’s accurate. There’s more to the plot than that, but essentially that combination is what sets up the story. Maia wants to be the Royal Tailor for the emperor, but a girl could never hold such a position. So she pretends to be her brother and ends up in a Project Runway type competition that could get her killed. Fortunately, she has some tricks up her sleeves that the others do not.
I really liked Maia. She was brave, but also 100% freaked out by everything she was doing because if she got caught she would be executed. So there was this palpable tension the entire time because she felt driven to be at the palace, but she also wanted to run away. It was great watching her grow into her destiny, which was even bigger than she had dreamed of for herself (and lets be honest, the girl dreamed pretty big).
So if that plot isn’t already enough to intrigue you, the romance with a shady magician should really pull in you. Edan is one of my favorite types of love interests: not immediately romantic though terribly interested in our main heroine, obviously has a lot going on that we don’t know about, extremely clever and powerful, with uncertain motives that reveal themselves in time. I really loved him. He wasn’t even that present in the first half of the book, so much so that I wasn’t sure he was the love interest.
And if you think it stops at the Tailoring Tasks, you’re very much mistaken. There’s an epic journey here was well my friends. Magical creatures, tasks solved by cleverness, tasks solved by courage, a quest no one expects our heroes to return alive from. Staring certain death in the face.
All in all, this is the best YA Fantasy book I’ve read in a long time. Awesome plot with really likable characters, and a great ending leading into the next book! Book 2 can’t get here fast enough!