ARC Review: Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles #1) by Maria Turtschaninoff10:00
Series: The Red Abbey Chronicles #1
Author: Maria Turtschaninoff
Published January 14th 2016 by Pushkin Children's Books
Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren't allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.
Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.
Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.
A story of friendship and survival, magic and wonder, beauty and terror, Maresi will grip you and hold you spellbound.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. This in no way impacted on my view.
I first heard about this book through some bloggers via Twitter. Because I trust their judgement on books, I decided to try and request a copy, and was lucky enough to receive one. I had next to no knowledge what the book was actually about, other than the fact this was it's first time being published in English, rather than its native Finnish. Most of reviews I've since seen have been extremely complimentary, and I was hoping I'd feel the same way - unfortunately, this was not the case.
Maresi is about a young girl, living in a secluded nunnery, on a female only island. The only men who are allowed anywhere near are merchants delivering goods, and taking items manufactured and sold by the nunnery. And, even then, they are met at a jetty, and don't disembark the ships. For many years, everything has ran very smoothly. Once Jai, a bedraggled young girl, arrives at the convent, things change, and not for the better. Maresi and Jai become quick friends, but Jai's history soon catches up with them.
I did like Maresi, but there was just something lacking. She was a proper role model for young girls, both in the book and otherwise, but I never really felt the whole 'feminist' aspect of the book that a lot of other reviewers have mentioned. The nuns were really great characters, and I enjoyed how much learning was a part of the story. Jai, however, I never really warmed up to. I understood she'd had such an awful life, and really sympathised with her for that, but I still didn't connect with her character.
The book also seemed really slow, for the most part. Nothing really happened for about three quarters of the book, and then when it did, it was over in a short space of time. Even when I had just finished the book, I forgot pretty much all that had happened in it: it just wasn't memorable, at all. I'm not sure whether it was just a bit too young for me.
I'm still glad that I read the book, though I wouldn't be in a hurry to read it again. I think younger readers would probably prefer it more than I did, but I know people my age, and older, have also loved it.