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.
Source: Review Consideration
5 Words: Faith, hope, learning, magic, friendship.
Hands down the best fantasy I have read in a long time.
I think this is one of those books where you either love it or feel a bit Meh after reading. I definitely loved it, but I can see why some people wouldn't like it.
This was a very subtle fantasy - if not for the magic and technology it could almost have been set now, in this world. There was no cookie-cutter plot with a Mary Sue main character. Instead there was complex plot with mixed yet natural feeling pacing and a thoroughly challenging Maresi, who had as many bad parts about her character as good.
This story started very slowly, and it felt like not much happened except for beautiful world building, until about half way through when suddenly the plot truly took off and I could not put it down.
The writing had a bit of a fairy-tale feel to it. I liked how the magic wasn't something confirmed, it wasn't something definite. It felt a lot like magic realism - how much was coincidence or faith or in their heads? I liked how it let me decide.
Something I really liked was how much food was discussed - it's very much a factor of the life the people on the island live, but food is talked about a lot by the main character, especially how it correlates to different events and season. It was a nice way to see the passing of time depicted. And yes, it made me hungry.