Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Pushkin!
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.
I've seen people raving about this book all over Twitter, and now, after reading...I can see why! I was completely mind blown by this book, not least because this resembles of our world in this day and age.
I was intrigued by this from the start because of all the hype, and as soon as I started reading my intrigue grew. I wanted to know more about Maresi, I wanted to know more about the Abbey and it's history. I became completely engrossed in the book and it's world. I was fascinated by the Abbey and how things worked there, and their beliefs. I was so fascinated by the belief system of the book, the First Mother and so on, I don't know why my brain leapt to Game of Thrones but the whole Mother and the Crone thing made my brain go there, but it was so well created and explained on the page that I was fascinated by it all.
The book makes you think, and it has a lot of messages to tell the reader, without shoving them down your throat or screaming them in your face. They're subtle, put across in a way that allows you to absorb it and think about it without it being harped on about constantly to hammer the message home, there's no patronisation.
While slow to start, understandable considering the effort that's gone in to setting the book up, and the Abbey and letting you get to know the occupants of the Abbey including Maresi, the day to day life of the occupants AND introducing Jai and getting to know her, it's written so compellingly that you can't stop reading. Jai slowly opens up, and things build up over the course of the book, the tension racks up and the conflict slowly comes on to the scene. I was completely engrossed in the world of the book and how atmospheric it was, and learning about Jai and her past, that the tension had been building for a while before I fully noticed it ramping up and up. I mean, there's some comments made about what's to come and they're both intriguing and spine shivering.
The anticipation had been building from the beginning, and when the big conflict of the book happens I read that part turning pages as fast as I could. It was heart breaking and horrifying and brutal in parts, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was a bit darker than I was thinking and it really sticks in your mind and makes you think.
Maresi sucks you in to it's world and keeps you in place with the compelling writing and the slowly building anticipation and tension. It's a quick read, short but rich. I'm definitely intrigued for the second book!
EDIT: As of now (January 5th!) Maresi is now out in paperback with a brand new cover!