Formerly 'The Mile Long Bookshelf'

Friday, 11 December 2015

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Title: Maresi
Author: Maria Turtschaninoff
Published by: Pushkin Children's Books
Publication date: 14th January 2016
Pages: 256
Genres: Young Adult/Fantasy/Finnish Literature
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

A world where girls live in fear.

A safe haven far away.

But is it far enough?

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.

Maresi is a Finnish, feminist fantasy story set on an idyllic, women-only island where everyone is safe - or supposed to be.

To be honest, I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. It sounded right up my street but I think because this isn't something I would usually pick up, I expected it to take ages for me to get into. However, I actually think this book holds the most intriguing first page of all time - seriously - and I was hooked. The world-building is spectacular and so vivid that I could see it all in my mind. That said, I hope the final edition has a map - not because it particularly needs one, but because this seems like the sort of story that should have one. And it would be pretty!

As well as the world-building, I loved the lack of romantic relationships in this book because, honestly, I can't remember the last time I read a book where someone wasn't pining after someone else. It was refreshing and a good change from what I normally read. Instead, it focuses on friendship and sisterhood, something I think YA needs more of.

Like booktuber Casey said in her review, Maresi made me proud to be a woman. It also made me realise that I should be reading more fantasy. It's a genre I enjoy and yet weirdly forget about, and after Maresi I will definitely be looking for more fantasy novels to add to my (mile-long...) bookshelf.

In a nutshell, Maresi is an incredible book and part of me wants to give it its own shelf complete with a velvet cushion. They're vastly different, but if you liked Louise O'Neill's Only Ever Yours, you'll love this. Maresi is fantastically original and I am so glad I read it. It's a very important read.

1 comment

  1. I'd like to mention that there actually IS a map, at least in the Finnish version of this book. And as a Finn I have read most of Turtschaninoff's fantasy novels and I love all of them, especially Arra. Unfortunately that one hasn't been translated into English, at least not yet. Let's hope Maresi is a success and maybe more of Turtschaninoff's wonderful books will be translated into English soon. :)


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