Reading Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim is like returning to Walt Disney World after not visiting since childhood.
All that excitement, all that wonder, all the magic!
From the moment you set foot on property at the Happiest Celebration on Earth you are immersed in one of the most amazing experiences there is to experience today.
Do you know what’s better than going to Walt Disney World?
Going to Walt Disney World again.
But if you haven’t been to Walt Disney World since you were a kid, you need to properly set your expectations. Those buildings and attractions aren’t quite as big as you remember them.
It’s familiar, yet different. But no less a magical adventure.
That’s what it’s like reading Unravel the Dusk.
Unravel the Dusk Review
Unravel the Dusk picks up the story of Spin the Dawn nearly right where we left off.
Don’t go into Unravel the Dusk expecting the same story elements. One of the biggest draws of Spin the Dawn was the competition to become the imperial tailor. And following that, the epic journey to craft the three dresses of Amana.
A task that resulted in Maia trading places with the demon that guarded Lapzur, thus becoming a demon herself. The transformation is underway, but it is not yet complete.
Unravel the Dusk is all about finding a way to stop Maia’s transformation while also trying to save Alandi.
It doesn’t take long for the tentative alliance between the shansen and the emperor to fall apart. Without Edan’s powerful magic bound to the emperor, the shansen sees his opportunity to seize the empire for himself, wedding or not.
It was hinted at in Spin the Dawn, but surprise! The shansen made a pact with a demon who gives him incredible strength.
Our heroes find themselves on the defensive very fast and now not only does Maia need to stop herself from becoming a demon, she needs to save Alandi in the process.
The only one capable of defeating the Hansen’s demon is another demon.
But giving in to her demon powers will cause her to change even faster.
So what does Maia do? Avoid using her powers to save herself? Or give in to her powers and save Elandi?
A Familiar Story
I said Unravel the Dusk was familiar.
Everything you’ve been waiting for? Unravel the Dusk is it and so much more.
Maia is strong, smart, and sacrificial. She puts others before herself, and even though she’s turning into a demon, her heart is right.
That doesn’t mean she’s without her struggles. In fact, you see very clearly throughout the book what’s happening to her as the demon grips her and takes hold.
I felt that Lim did a fantastic job showing the ever slippery slope that Maia begins to fall down. The longer we go, the more she begins to forget her friends, her family, and even Edan. Sometimes he’s only described as the tall man she feels like she should know.
There’s clever magic, internal struggles, and physical battles aplenty in Unravel the Dusk.
But a different experience
Unravel the Dusk is also entirely different.
It lacks some of the mysticism that felt reading Spin the Dawn. I’m not sure if it’s just because I know so much more about this world, or if it’s that the story itself falls short in some way.
That is not to say that Unravel the Dusk isn’t a fantastic book. It’s a very easy read and that I loved from cover to cover.
But I felt that it’s missing something. And I think that something is just the powerful wow moments.
Spin the Dawn was filled with so many of them. From both successes and failures in the competition, to the great struggle to craft the dresses, to the dazzling moment the dresses came to life. Each and every page of Spin the Dawn dripped with awe.
Unravel the Dusk does not.
There are some wow moments, but they lack the oomph I was expecting.
Again, still a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed. But it lost the twinkle. That extra little bit on top that takes a great story and makes it phenomenal.
How I described Walt Disney World is really the best way to explain it.
When I was a child, I loved the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area at MGM Studios. When I returned as a teen, a full 2-3 feet taller and 10 years older, that play set was not nearly as large as I remembered it.
All of Walt Disney World felt the same. My experience was different, perhaps a little less magical than I remembered, but no less and amazing trip that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.
That is Unravel the Dusk.
Without a doubt, if you loved Spin the Dawn, you will adore Unravel the Dusk.
I’d buy these books in a heartbeat and recommend them to anyone who loves YA fantasy, asian-inspired fantasy, or fantasy romance.
In fact, even though I was gifted a free copy of Spin the Dawn to review, I bought the hardcover as soon as it became available and I will be doing the same with Unravel the Dusk. I love these books that much.
Looking for more great reviews?
Check out my review of Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen.