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Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles) Hardcover – January 3, 2017
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"Utterly satisfying and completely different from standard YA fantasy, this Finnish import seems primed to win over American readers."
father and the Sisters. But what’s more impressive about this fantasy is the subtlety with which the serenity of the island and its way of life is established—through the calls of birds, the sounds of the lapping sea, the smoothness of driftwood."
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While Turtschaninoff can get a bit Tolkien-ish in providing more detailed descriptions than one needs I didn't feel like it bogged the story down. The world building is subtle and tense, presenting just enough information of the world beyond the Red Abbey to frighten. As a woman, as a mother, as a feminist, I found myself terrified and angry only to realize just how unfictional many of the elements of the story were.
This book is absolutely everything. I can't even express how phenomenal it is. I wish I could send a copy back in time to my teen self so that I can have read this when I needed it most. Calling this a must-read feels like an understatement and I desperately await the next two translations of the Red Abbey Chronicles.
Note: ARC received via NetGalley.
The world that Turtschaninoff created in MARESI is wicked and evil, but that's what really drew me in; I wanted to know who was in charge, why there was so much hate between people and if anyone was willing to stop it. MARESI didn't really offer me that initially, and as I was reading on I was wondering what was even going on. I had really high expectations for this book, and I think that there was a lot that could have been done with this story, but it did drag on to be a bit boring at times.
The narrator, a young girl called Maresi has only now adjusted to life on the island, and is now welcoming a new girl, Jai, who has come as a runaway from an abusive household. Girls who live in the abbey have usually been mistreated, or have been sent by family members in hope that they will be educated and be given a chance to live. Jai has escaped her father, who brutally murdered Jai's sister, with the help of her mother and is taken charge of by Maresi and the sisters at the abbey.
The relationship between Maresi and Jai was beautiful and extremely enjoyable to read about. They represent a great friendship, which is so hard to come by in newer books. Maresi and Jai have each other to grow, and though they do not always have a very vocal relationship, they know they can rely on each other. They were the main reason I didn't put down MARESI. Sisterhood seemed to be one of the main themes of this novel; Maresi and Jai's friendship shaped the plot of the book.
It's interesting to see Turtschaninoff's approach to feminism. I enjoyed looking at the Red Abbey as a Utopian society; every woman is taught to think intellectually and be laborious, but there is one mistake --- they are never taught about war.
MARESI was a delightful book, not only for its originality but for its gripping plot and interesting characters. I am genuinely interested in getting to know more about the twisted world Turtschaninoff has created in the first installment of The Red Abbey Chronicles. The second book in the series has already been released in its native Swedish, so it will undoubtedly come out in English in the near future. As soon as it happens, I will definitely be reading it!
Reviewed by Rachel D., Teen Board Member
Most recent customer reviews
A remote island abbey where only women are welcome.Read more
I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting much from this book.Read more