Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Title: Maresi

Series: The Red Abbey Chronicles #1

Author: Maria Turtschaninoff

Pub Date: 2014, English translation: 2017

My Rating: ★★★★☆

View on Goodreads

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 recently took an interest in translated YA novels, I want to see what is out there, beside the narrow scope of American literature. I think I too often choose American writers over international writers, and I’m interested to see what other nations have to offer, especially in books targeted to Young Adults. How many translated YA novels have you read?

Maresi is my first foray into translated YA fiction, in my case I read its Polish translation (the third book’s Polish translation is coming out this month, and English next year… I don’t want to wait that long). This is an excellent start in my translated YA reading plans!

Maresi lives in Red Abbey since she was thirteen. She came to this mystical island inhabited by women only after she survived Hunger Winter. The Red Abbey is the only place where a woman can feel safe, where they can learn and do as they please. Where they can explore their female powers. Maresi is the one that writes for us the story of Jai, frightened and hurt girl who fled cruelty of her home. We slowly learn the extent of brutality Jai survived, and are faced with the man behind it. Women and girls of the Abby have to stand together to fight the man, and what exceptional fighters they are. They stand together, they are not violent, and they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the safety of others.

I love how female friendship is portrayed in the story, how powerful it makes all the girls and women on the island. It makes an excellent feminist YA story, that explorers friendship, trust, beauty. All the women and girls are described as beautiful, but not because of their looks, but because of their characters, of their kindness, struggles they overcome, a power they find within themselves. The scars on their bodies make them all more beautiful and precious. This is a story I want young girls to read!

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