Maresi, Book 1 in the Red Abbey Chronicles by Maria Turtschaninoff
What It’s About: Maresi’s world is one that many would envy. She is a Novice at the Red Abbey, a refuge for women and girls. Situated on an island surrounded by rough and unpredictable seas, the Abbey is a sanctuary for those who need to escape – from hunger, abuse, ignorance… At the Abbey, the young girls discover and develop their talents. Some are teachers; others are cooks or builders; while others – like Maresi – thirst after knowledge and books. They are all devoted to the Moon and the trinity of beings that make up the Moon- Maiden, Mother, and Crone. And, just like the Moon, their lives have a predictable rhythm. Until Jai, a new Novice, arrives on the island. It is obvious that Jai has suffered unspeakable trauma. And it is acknowledged by the Mother that she has brought unwelcome danger to the Abbey and its residents. Will Maresi be able to defend her beloved Abbey and her friends?
Roben’s Thoughts – I thoroughly enjoyed this Fantasy saga! The author has created an intricate world filled with magic and beauty. I was intrigued by the different plot threads running through the story. While ultimately it is Maresi’s narrative of events, Jai’s story is inextricably woven with hers. The third strand is the story of the First Sisters who founded the Abbey. A “woven story” is very appropriate for this tale since the Abbey’s main source of silver is from a special red fabric that is dyed and woven on the island by the Sisters and Novices.
There is definitely darkness and violence in this book but ultimately there is light and hope. Book 2 in the series is Naondel, which is the name of the ship that carried the First Sisters to the island (scheduled for publication in January, 2018.)
I would give Maresi to readers who enjoy strong female characters, uplifting stories, and are looking for something different than formulaic dystopian stories.