Publishers Weekly Review
Inside the ancient Red Abbey on the island of Menos, women and girls are shielded from abuse, rescued from poverty, and taught the necessary skills to improve their homelands. Novices Maresi, 13, and newcomer Jai have both lost their sisters, but while bold Jai focuses on revenge against the men who buried her beloved sibling alive, brave Maresi is trying to escape the pull of death herself. Fantasy and magic blend fluidly in the deeply feminist world of Turtschaninoff's first novel, originally published in Finland. When death calls to Maresi, it manifests in the whispering hiss of the Crone, an eerily haunting personification of her fears. The island haven is a bright spot of love and harmony amid the stark realities of a dark and brutal world, crafted in the spirit of Margaret Atwood's Republic of Gilead. The sisters and their protégés are tested by intruders, but they greet the hateful aggression with unity and a willingness toward self-sacrifice. In this first book in the Red Abbey Chronicles trilogy, the message is clear: knowledge isn't just power, it can save lives. Ages 13-up. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* It's rare to find a YA fantasy with such polished writing, and almost impossible to find a YA title so committed to a sympathetic portrayal of a matriarchy. Finnish author Turtschaninoff kicks off the Red Abbey Chronicles with the compelling story of 13-year-old Maresi, a novice at the Red Abbey on the island of Menos, where men are forbidden. Sent to the abbey at age 9 to escape starvation, Maresi is supported in her desire to learn everything she can, especially about the First Mother. When a frightened, abused girl named Jai arrives at the abbey, she and Maresi become fast friends, but Jai's angry father pursues her to the island, intent on getting her back and punishing the sisters. Maresi's simple, direct narrative is filled with compelling details of abbey existence, from bathing to eating to moon rituals. The wholesome, stable life of dedication to the First Mother in all her forms (maiden, mother, and crone) through study and service unfolds naturally through the first half of the book, building the reader's respect and affection for the abbey and its inhabitants. Utterly satisfying and completely different from standard YA fantasy, this Finnish import seems primed to win over American readers.--Carton, Debbie Copyright 2016 Booklist