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.
Unravel the Dusk picks up pretty much where Spin the Dawn had left off and despite that I did find myself wishing that I’d re-read Spin the Dawn to give myself a refresher on where things had left off at the end of that book because I couldn’t for the life of me remember exactly what the conflict was that had been set up for the second half of the story. Whoops! Not sure if that’s just because I read so many things or if the story was somewhat forgettable after a year’s time buuuuuut this does make me, once again, long for recaps at the beginning of sequels. (Just saying, authors and publishers. Just saying.) And with this book it took forever for me to remember exactly what happened because there were not many context clues leading me to go ‘oh yeah!’. Anyway, I digress. (So early in the review as well…)
Anyway. Once I mostly figured out what was happening I was able to get into the story with no problem. Like I said, this one is all about dealing with the consequences from the previous book. Maia finds herself mostly alone at court dealing with an emperor who is NOT happy with the state of things. She’s trying to play diplomat as well as court sorcerer now–quite a step away from her role as court tailor. She’s caught between the wants of the emperor, what’s best for the country, her own wants, and the wants of others such as Lady Sarnai. All of this while also trying not to give in to her own demon–literally. Maia is pretty alone at court except for one servant who is her friend.
There are a good amount of surprises in this book and I appreciated that. It didn’t take the direction I thought it would and that kept things interesting. I also love how the hero wound up being unexpected. Yes, Maia is the protagonist, but she’s not the one who winds up taking things in hand and leading the country (and honestly she’s not really suited to that role anyway). I really loved how all of this played out and I feel like everything was earned by the characters and the choices they made.
The one major downside for me, of course, is that Edan is gone for about half of the book and I really missed seeing him and Maia together because they have such a lovely relationship. Of course, I do appreciate that this time apart gave Maia the chance to focus on her self for a while, especially with everything she had going on. Because of this, I do feel like the first half of the story dragged for me. Of course the second half was brilliant. Lots of things happening including battles and magic and demons and love and family.
I loved where the story ended up. Like I said above, I think the ending was well earned. The characters fought hard! I also loved that Maia’s family wasn’t away the entire book and we got to see her spending some time with her father and brother, after all those relationships are vital for her and why she was doing all this in the first place.
Overall, I thought this was a satisfying conclusion to the duology and a good mirror to the structure of the first book although I do wish the pacing had been a little more even. 4/5 stars