Thoughts on Spin the Dawn

I’m halfway through this book and I have to say, I’m liking it a LOT. However, I have some issues with its themes that I want to get off my chest. So, here I am, rambling about what I found a bit problematic about Spin the Dawn.

StD story follows Maia, a young woman who disguises herself as a man in order to win a contest to become the Emperor’s tailor. It was pitched as Mulan meets Project Runway for a reason, let’s say. However, she disguises herself as her brother, who is disabled, and to befriend a kitchen maid she let them think her a queer man.

So, yupp, we have a girl disguising herself as a disabled queer man. And I can’t help but think, how much more powerful and impactful would the story be, if the main character was truly a queer, disabled man? There are tons of stories out there featuring girl who tackle impossible tasks, or girls that disguise them as men to do so, but… there are zero stories about actually disabled queer men. So why not making a story about them? Moreover, the ‘faking to be disabled’ bit… kind of chafed with me. I found it a bit problematic.

Maia has the ‘aesthetic’ of being disabled, walking with a cane, without the troubles of having actual problems walking. I really didn’t like this, I find it borderline offensive toward disabled people. I had troubles walking during middle grade because of a disease, so it really hit a nerve with me.

And being queer, I don’t really like my identity being used as a ‘disguise’. So…

I still like this story plenty. I love the atmosphere, the Asian One Thousand and One Nights vibes of the plot. And the characters are compelling and interesting. However, the issues I mentioned are ruining the reading experience a bit for me. And imho are issues that are worth to talk about!