Maia proved her skill as a tailor when she wove the dresses of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but it will take more than a beautiful gown to hide the darkness rising up within her…
We’re thrilled to share a preview from Elizabeth Lim’s Unravel the Dusk, the sequel to Spin the Dawn—available July 7th from Knopf Books.
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. Edan, the boy she loves, is gone—perhaps forever—and no sooner does she set foot in the Autumn Palace than 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.
When the emperor’s rivals learn of her deception, there is hell to pay, 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, and in the meantime she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.
Fireworks exploded from behind the palace, shooting high beyond the stars.
“Ah!” Everyone gasped, marveling at the sight.
Briefly, I marveled too. I’d never seen fireworks before. Sendo tried to describe them to me once, though he’d never seen them either.
“They’re like lotuses blooming in the sky, made of fire and light,” he’d said.
“How do they get up so high?”
“Someone shoots them.” He shrugged when I frowned at him, skeptical. “Don’t make that face at me, Maia. I don’t know everything. Maybe it’s magic.”
“You say that about everything you don’t know how to explain.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
I had laughed. “I don’t believe in magic.”
But as the fireworks burst into the sky now, lurid splatters of yellow and red against the black night, I knew magic looked nothing like this. Magic was the blood of stars falling from the sky, the song of my enchanted scissors—eager to make a miracle out of thread and hope. Not colored dust flung into the sky.
While those around me cheered, eight more young men carried another golden palanquin toward the emperor. Lanterns hung from every side, illuminating an elaborately painted phoenix.
A phoenix to match the emperor’s dragon. To breathe new life into the country, helping it rise from the ashes of war.
The attendants lowered the palanquin, but Lady Sarnai didn’t step out. She was wailing so loudly that even from the back of the square, I could hear her. In some villages, it was tradition for a bride to wail before her wedding, a sign of respect to her parents, to show that she was distressed to leave them.
But how unlike the shansen’s daughter.
A soldier parted the curtains and Lady Sarnai tottered forward to join the emperor and her father. An embroidered veil of ruby silk covered her face, and the train of her gown dragged behind her, crimson in the fragile moonlight. It did not even shimmer, as any of the dresses I’d made for her would have: woven with the laughter of the sun, embroidered with the tears of the moon, and painted with the blood of stars. Strange, that Khanujin would not have insisted she wear one of Amana’s dresses to show off to the shansen.
I frowned as she continued to wail, a shrill sound that pierced the tense silence.
She bowed before her father, then before the emperor, falling to her knees.
Slowly, ceremoniously, Emperor Khanujin began to lift her veil. The drumming began again, growing louder, faster, until it was so deafening my ears buzzed and the world began to spin.
Then—as the drums reached their thunderous climax—someone let out a scream.
My eyes snapped open. The shansen had shoved Khanujin aside and seized his daughter by the neck. Now, he held her shrieking and kicking above the Hall of Harmony’s eighty-eight steps—and he ripped off her veil.
The bride was not Lady Sarnai.
Excerpted from Unravel the Dusk, copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Lim