Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff probably wouldn’t have been my usual first choice when looking for a new book to read. I don’t often pick up YA novels any more, probably because I’m not really a YA anymore, but after meeting Turtschaninoff and hearing her and Laura Dockrill talk about it at Waterstones, Islington I knew I had to read it. And not only because I got £3 off with my ticket. It is a fantastic novel for women of any age of course but would be especially important and empowering for younger female readers. I wish books like this had been around when I was in my teens. There is so much strength in this story and you as the reader can’t help feeling more powerful as a woman you learn about this community of women and girls. It has been compared to Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and I do see where people are coming from. There is that element of female strength in adversity.
I’m going to try to keep this review spoiler free but read on at your own risk! Maresi tells the story of a teenage girl, who the novel is named after, in the first person narrative. She is living in an Abbey on an island where no men are permitted to set foot. The island is kept secret but despite this young girls arrive fairly often usually escaping impoverished or abusive backgrounds. Everything has been peaceful on the Island until Jai arrives at the Abbey where danger will inevitably follow her. Maresi’s tale describes the fantastical, and sometimes magical, battle to protect the Abbey and her sisters. This novel will grip you and not let go until the very end.
I feel like this Maresi was written by a book worm, about a book worm and for her fellow book worms. Maresi and Jai are both big readers and obviously passionate about learning. Maresi calls the library the “treasure chamber” and spends all her free time in there. I have always read a lot and I love the feeling that reading can give you, like you’re in another world. Maresi gets that and I get her, I think we would have been friends if we ever crossed paths. Having said this there is plenty of action and this would be a perfect beach day read. You might cry a bit though. I did. On the tube during rush hour.