Maresi (The Red Abbey Chronicles #1)
by Maria Turtschaninoff
Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Maresi, a thirteen-year-old novice there, arrived in the hunger winter and now lives a happy life in the Abbey, protected by the Mother and reveling in the vast library in the House of Knowledge, her favorite place. Into this idyllic existence comes Jai, a girl with a dark past. She has escaped her home after witnessing the killing of her beloved sister. Soon the dangers of the outside world follow Jai into the sacred space of the Abbey, and Maresi can no longer hide in books and words but must become one who acts.
4 of 5 Stars
I got almost instantly drawn into this story with the way the beginning takes place. The first few pages start off with Maresi explaining that she has to write her account of what takes place. I found this style of narration to be charming, and the perfect way to start off. I liked Maresi right away, her personality showed fairly easily and I really appreciated getting to know her as the plot progressed.
While we don’t get to know the other characters as well as we do Maresi, they still form important roles in the story as a whole. Unlike some fantasy novels with foreign sounding names which come across as sort of cliche, the many different names in this story made sense to me. All of the women and girls who reside at Red Abbey come from various parts of the world. I loved the melting pot atmosphere this created, a little culture all their own. I especially loved how incredibly detailed the history and lore of was. It felt rich and deep and completely believable. I could tell there were many stories that we didn’t get to know and I’m hoping we find more out in the future.
It’s hard for me to come up with anything bad about this book, I really enjoyed it. It’s a perfect mix of dark and gritty as well as magic, fantasy, and strength. I would caution readers who are sensitive to violence, there are a few scenes that get somewhat graphic. For me, it never felt over the top. Each scene or instance that strayed into darker topics felt necessary. Each time, it supported the story and kept things moving. This is especially true as I got to know more and more about Jai.
Overall I highly recommend this book as an easy read for anyone who enjoys fantasy and a bit of magic. I’m looking forward to seeing what else may come from this series in the future.
A big thanks to Abrams and Amulet Books for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.