Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

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The Blood of Stars duology. Random House, 2020. ISBN: 9780525647027.
(Young Adult). Recommended. Much has changed for Maia Tamarin since the conclusion of the first novel in The Blood of Stars duology. In Spin the Dawn, we watched Maia, a young woman living in a patriarchal Chinese society, impersonate her brother in order to enter a competition to become imperial tailor. Talented but overlooked because of her gender, Maia manages to fulfil the seemingly impossible task of weaving three magical dresses from the sun, moon and stars. In Unravel the Dusk Maia returns from her perilous journey to make the garments to find her kingdom readying for war and that Edan, the boy that she loves, has disappeared. If this is not enough for one character to deal with, Maia is also forced to pretend to be the emperor's future bride in an effort to stave off the coming conflict and also wrestle with the demon Bandur, who is determined to take over her body.
Unsurprisingly, there are many plot lines, characters and conflicting motivations woven into this book. Set at a much more urgent pace than the first novel, Unravel the Dusk charts Maia's rapid growth as both a woman and a protagonist. As in the first novel, she is an enjoyable and worthy main character and is supported by a well-fleshed out cast.
Unravel the Dusk is darker in tone than its predecessor but it provides a strong and entertaining end to the series. Readers also interested in fiction influenced Ancient Chinese culture will enjoy this book. Themes: Identity, Love, War, Magic, Demons, Royalty.
Rose Tabeni