Reader Reviewed The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi

Written by Maria Turtschaninoff

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Longlisted for the UKLA 2017 Book Award | January 2015 Debut of the Month What an unusual and powerful novel. The setting is an island in an unspecified fantasy world inhabited by a community of women who live separate from men, dedicating themselves to the worship of the Triple Goddess. Maresi is a young novice, sent there by her family to escape famine, and still wracked by guilt over the death of her little sister. She loves her new life, the women live austere lives but there’s ample time for friendship and study. Their peace is threatened when another girl arrives, on the run from her violent father, and the reader quickly realises that he will never let his daughter escape. The tension before his arrival is palpable, and the violence he brings with him truly shocking. Even so, he’s no match for Maresi. Turtschaninoff creates an original fantasy world, and her parable of sisterhood and bravery will enthral readers. ~ Andrea Reece

Readers might also enjoy Ursula Le Guin’s epic Earthsea series and Margaret Atwood’s science fiction.

A Piece of Passion from Adam Freudenheim, MD and publisher of Pushkin Children’s Books “I was blown away by Maresi, quite simply. Turtschaninoff has written an incredibly original, vivid and gripping story with appeal not only for YA readers but far beyond. And embedded in the story is a passionate feminist voice that will resonate with a wide variety of readers. It is testament to the sheer quality of Maresi that we have chosen it as our first ever YA title, and I’ve no doubt that Maresi and The Red Abbey Chronicles as a whole will become classics of the genre.”

Reader Reviews

Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews here.

  • Katie Humphreys, age 13 - 'Maresi is a thrilling book which makes you think about friendship in a different way. I found it SO gripping from cover to cover, and I loved the suspense at the end of every chapter!'
  • Rose Roberts - 'This book is excellent...WOW!!! I finished it in a day! I loved it.'
  • Jasmine Wright - 'An amazing, gripping book. Set on an Island inhabited only by women where a young girl, Maresi lives at an abbey. The Abbey is peaceful then Jai arrives and with her comes danger...'
  • Jenny Ilsley - 'Maresi is about a small island upon which lies a large abbey, full of women...Maresi is the main character in this book, she is a kind natured girl but afraid of the Crone (and what it might do to her).'
  • Emily Kirby - 'I highly recommend this book because it is thrilling, exciting and very enjoyable. When Jai arrives on the island Maresi has to teach her about the islands way of life.'
  • Bella Ettery - 'I really enjoyed Maresi and thought that it had a great plot. Every now and then, I still find myself thinking about Maresi, as if she is a real person.'
  • Charlie Upchurch, age 12 - 'I love the way the book slowly reveals Jai’s story, it makes it impossible to put down. I really enjoyed reading Maresi and I am excited about the next Red Abbey Chronicles book.'


The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

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.

A note from the author: “I think that it's rare for a book to focus solely on the female experience, and put it at its heart. That is why Maresi is such an important book for me. I want Maresi to enlighten every reader, normalising that women are powerful, strong, intelligent and most importantly, that they matter.”

Maresi is being published in eight languages and won the Finlandia Junior Prize.


'Dark, powerful and original... really stands out in a very crowded YA marketplace... Thrilling, suspenseful and gloriously feminist' The Bookseller

'A book full of courage. Dark, brave and so gripping you ll read it in one sitting with that instinctive hunch hovering over your shoulder warning you that something terrible is about happen if you turn the page. And then you turn the page...' Laura Dockrill , author

'A poignant, slow-burning fantasy' Taran Matharu, author

'Such a beautiful, haunting tale. Maresi s voice is unlike any other YA voice I ve read; her voice is strong but she shows us so many different emotions. Her relationship with Jai and the other girls felt very real, dealing with all of Jai s problems how a friend would. They were there for each other and it was great to see that. The writing is amazing; it has an almost mythical feel to it. The way it flows made it such an easy and quick read. Obviously there are darker elements to the book but that only adds to the story and the world that has been created. It s good to see these issues being used in books and drawing them to the attention of our next generation' Fiona Hadfield , children's bookseller

'A web of strength, friendship and belief. A beautifully painted, fantastical setting like no other; this story will resonate with me for a long time' Ben Alderson, Benjamin of Tomes

'A few times in a life time, a book comes along that wraps you completely in its world and its characters. Wildly imaginative, vivid and filled with wonders' Casey Daveron, Casey Ann Books

About the Author

Maria Turtschaninoff is a Swedish-speaking Finnish author and winner of numerous literary accolades. She was born in 1977 and has been writing fairy tales since she was five. She is the author of many books about magical worlds. She has been awarded the Swedish YLE Literature Prize and has twice won the Society of Swedish Literature Prize. She has also been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Turtschaninoff grew up in an environment that so normalised women’s rights and their importance that she didn’t realise such topics could be inflammatory until she was an adult. These values underpin all of her books.

Maresi is the first book in the three-part Red Abbey Chronicles, all of which will be published by Pushkin Press.

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Book Info


256 pages


Maria Turtschaninoff
More books by Maria Turtschaninoff


Pushkin Children's Books

Publication date

14th January 2016




Publisher Profile

Pushkin Children's Books is an imprint of Pushkin Children's Books


Pushkin Children's Books was launched in 2013 to share tales from different languages and cultures with younger readers, and to open the door to the wide, colourful worlds these stories offer. From picture books and adventure stories to fairy tales and classics, and from fifty-year-old bestsellers to current huge successes abroad, the books on the Pushkin Childrens list reflect the very best stories from around the world, for our most discerning readers of all: children. Twitter @PushkinPress

Publisher's Website

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