[A note before my review: Coming July 7th. I was OVER THE MOON when I received an ARC of Unravel the Dusk! I mean, how gorgeous is this cover?! It’s stunning. The colors are vivid, and the artwork is elegant. I’m all but drooling over here. Unravel the Dusk is one of the higher profile books I’ve been given to review. I had not yet read Spin the Dawn when approved, but I had heard great things about it. This was the motivation I needed to dive into Spin the Dawn. You can find my review here. I picked up Unravel the Dusk the day after finishing Spin the Dawn because of the little cliff hanger it left off on. But also because I was buried in the world and wanted to remain immersed. I enjoyed UtD so much that I pre-ordered the hardcover so that I could get all the swag with it!]
(5/5⭐️) “Everyone has a thread tied to someone—a person who’s meant to be by your side and make you happy.”
The stakes are raised in the stunning finale to the Blood of Stars dualogy. Maia is losing herself to the demon within. Every day is a fight against its evil. Some days she wakes up not knowing who she is, not knowing those around her. Even Edan’s face becomes a struggle to recognize. With each passing day that she stays away from Lapzur, she poses a greater threat to the people around her. Meanwhile, A’landi is on the brink of war. The emperor’s marriage to Lady Sanrai falls apart before it can be completed, and Sanrai’s father is out for blood. Maia is the only one who can hold everything together. Not only must she defeat Bandur to free herself from the tethers of the Island, but she must find a way to unite the people of A’landi. In so doing, she must make the ultimate sacrifice: herself.
Oh. My. Lantah. Unravel the Dusk broke my heart and stitched it back together. The cliffhanger at the end of Spin the Dawn was well worth it! UtD was a definite step above its predecessor, which was already great! While Spin the Dawn was very much a comfort read for me, this one kept me at the edge of my seat for its entirety. And the ending was so satisfying. With each word, Maia’s struggle to fight the growing darkness within her became more frantic. All I could do was turn the pages faster and faster to keep up with what was happening to her.
In Spin the Dawn, A’landi’s peace is at stake. In Unravel the Dusk, Maia’s entire being is at stake. It isn’t simply death she faces, but something far worse: transformation into a demon doomed to haunt the land. What could be worse than that? How about the lives of those she loves? Her father and brother. And Edan. Everything is at risk here. The game has changed.
“It hadn’t occurred to me until now that maybe the scissors had been sent to prepare me for this very moment. To show me how to trust the magic singing inside me, to turn my burgeoning darkness into light.” <<<THIS MADE ME WANT TO CRY>>>
Maia does everything she can to fight what is happening to her. Her struggles are admirable. There are several times where her hope is renewed, only to be shattered. Unravel the Dusk is an emotional rollercoaster. I cried a total of four times during the reading of this book. It was just so damn beautiful. The imagery, the metaphors, the unraveling of the threads of Maia’s humanity. There were some truly beautiful moments.
“What little I had left of my tailoring gift wasn’t for sewing with needle and thread, it was for crafting a future, stitch by stitch, for the people I loved. That future would hold tight, even as I unraveled. It had to, or else the choice I had made—the choice that Master Tsring had told me was inevitable—would be for naught.” <<<THIS ALSO MADE ME WANT TO CRY>>>
In terms of character arc, we see the completion of Maia’s journey, from where she started in the first book, to the strong woman she becomes in the second. We see the transformation in the decisions she makes at the end, especially in her ultimate sacrifice. She sacrifices to protect not simply the ones she loves, but the entire country. Her sense of duty is strong and ever-present in the choices she makes.
Edan is still Edan. Charming. I enjoy his character. We don’t see nearly as much of him in this story, but his love for Maia is constant.
“He pressed my hand against his heart. “You are not alone, Maia. Not now, not ever.””
Beneath his facade, you do see him struggle a few times, which makes him feel real. Edan is ultimately the one who keeps Maia’s sanity intact, especially as she begins losing herself. He’s always there by her side, fighting for her. I like that his love is reliable, constant. I think Maia needs that if she’s going to confront what ultimately faces her in the end.
I also appreciated Lady Sanari’s character arc. It ‘s a definite change. She goes from abandoning A’landi, to saving it. She confronts her father, a person she has hated and feared for many years. She even shows true signs of her humility when she doesn’t immediately kill him when she has the chance to. In the first book, it felt as if she had no redeeming qualities, and the reader was left disliking her, but that changes drastically in this book. I came to appreciate her...in time.
What a beautiful finale to a richly woven tapestry. The world Elizabeth Lim creates is stunning. It’s as unique as the gowns Maia creates. I applaud her for taking the fantasy genre and putting such a refreshing spin on it. I can’t wait for her next dualogy!
A huge thank you to @netgalley and @Randomhouse for a copy of the eARC in exchange for my honest review.