maresi

Fin­nish fem­i­nist fan­tasy

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Turtschani­noff was in­spired by vis­it­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion about a Greek monastery where no women are per­mit­ted.

re­leased 14 Jan­uary 247 pages | Hard­back au­thor Maria Turtschani­noff Pub­lisher Pushkin Chil­dren’s Books

Maria Turtschani­noff might be an un­known name to most English-speak­ing read­ers, but in Fin­land and Swe­den she’s won mul­ti­ple awards. Maresi is the first in her new tril­ogy and also the first of her books to be trans­lated into English.

Maresi lives at the Red Abbey, an idyl­lic is­land con­vent where men are for­bid­den and girls and women are pro­tected and ed­u­cated, build­ing an ide­alised life of work, study and wor­ship. Some girls come seek­ing learn­ing, some es­cap­ing prej­u­dice, and some are run­ning for their lives. One of th­ese is Jai, who’s flee­ing her cruel, controlling fa­ther – but he’s not go­ing to let her go lightly.

In a genre where so many works fo­cus on the ar­che­typal “strong fe­male char­ac­ter”, it’s refreshing to find a hero­ine who isn’t par­tic­u­larly adept at fight­ing, climb­ing or shoot­ing, but is in­stead a book­ish girl who loves learn­ing. Red Abbey is very much an ide­alised com­mu­nity – ev­ery­one gets on far too well, and sex­u­al­ity is pretty much ig­nored – but that feels only right in a world, so much like our own, where al­most every­where else is both full of dan­ger and empty of op­por­tu­nity for women. A touch­ing, well-drawn story of fe­male com­mu­nity, sol­i­dar­ity and friend­ship. Rhian Drinkwa­ter

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