Published - 14th January 2016 (Expected)
Publisher - Pushkin Children's Books
Format - Hardback
Synopsis - 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.
Thanks to Riot Communications & Liz Hyder for my copy of this gorgeous book! I'd seen a bunch of people receiving this book and so after I read, what must be one of the best blurbs i've ever read, I couldn't stop myself tweeting about it! I received the book from Liz a couple of weeks ago but since it's been crazy busy with work and Christmas, i'm only just getting chance to review it. This book is due to be published mid-January.
The first thing I noticed that I really enjoyed was getting a first hand tour of the Red Abbey from Maresi. Though of course Jai eventually has a bigger part to play in the story, when she first arrives it's a perfect set up to give the reader some insight to what is happening as Maresi leads Jai around and we see everything as Jai does. It really made me feel like I was part of the story.
I felt connected to Maresi and her insatiable need for reading - as i'm sure we all would. Those of us who love books know that there's something magical and compelling about books. It's not just the story contained within the pages, it's the texture of the page, the way it feels in your hands and of course, the smell. Even in a world that is so wonderfully different from our own, these bookish values still exist in Maresi. The very basis for the Abbey's existence is to protect knowledge. Reading Maresi felt like I was part of something bigger; something important.
The characters were wonderful too. Each one so different from the last but all of them come together as a family. You can get from the synopsis that Maresi is a female heavy book and with so many female characters you would expect characteristics to repeat themselves but honestly, each girl was so unique with her own personality. The magic of this book really kicks in when the Abbey receives some unexpected and unwelcome visitors. The strength and honour of these young girls really shines through when their way of life is threatened. As I said before, they stand together as one to protect knowledge, and more importantly, each other. It's beautiful.
This is going to be confusing to find the right words but as much as I loved Maresi, and was fully immersed in the pages, I also felt like something was missing. I can't even explain what it is, I just wanted...more. More action, more feminism...I don't really know. However on that same note, I had no idea that Maresi was just the first book. When I'd finished reading and saw that there was going to be a second book my excitement started to build and I have a feeling that Naondel will give me everything that I'm looking for!