* I have received this book for review from the publisher but this in no way affects my review*
Source: Received from Publisher
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Summary of Maresi from Goodreads:
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.
Book Review Summary:
Overall, Maresi was an enjoyable read but it really came into it's own at the end of the novel in contrast to the beginning. It had loveable characters and was well-written however the main protagonist can often be seen as younger than her years.
Maresi follows the the Red Abbey which a refugee for young girls from the world that they live in giving them a future they could only dream of. The Red Abbey is turned upside down with the arrival of Jai and the girls have to find a way to protect their home... Overall, I enjoyed the plot of Maresi however I found that the plot was better at the end of the novel in comparison to the beginning of the novel. The novel at the beginning is full of a lot of world-building which is normally a good thing however I found that this made the plot really slow and meant that I was quite bored at times. Saying this though, the world building is definitely needed in the novel because there is a lot that as a reader you need to get to grips with and need to understand what happens in the rest of the book. I however really enjoyed the rest of the book because at the end, the plot really picks up and it is really thrilling and fast-paced. You find that you can finally piece things together that thing start to match up.
I also found however that the plot was a new kind of fantasy story that was completely different to anything that I have read before and this different made me look at the plot in a new way. There were also some plot twists that I did not see coming which was a really nice surprise and it was definitely engaging. Overall, I did enjoy the plot however it was slow especially at the beginning.
The characters were definitely all enjoyable in this book and it was really lovely to read a good that advocated female friendship as this is a thing that I do not often see in the realm of YA fiction. The friendship between Maresi and Jai was definitely really lovely to see especially as it developed over the course of the novel. Although Maresi is the main protagonist of the novel, I did enjoy her character however I found that she could be quite juvenile at times and could often be see as quite a young character in comparison to some of the things that happen later in the novel. Maresi did however did go though some character development over the course of the novel which did make her much stronger. This being said I did like her character but I think I did prefer the character of Jai just because I think you could see the character development in her throughout due to the the character she was in the beginning.
Apart from Jai and Maresi, the side characters were also really loveable and it was really nice to see them developed too. This was especially with the nuns who were good characters almost acting as mum figures for the girls which was nice to see.
Overall, I think most of my problems lie in the writing, I enjoyed it but there was something that I just could not connect with. This was however a translated book so maybe that had something to do with how I did not connect with the writing. Overall, I just do not know why I did not connect with this book. I did find the voice of Maresi to be quite juvenile especially in terms of a young adult book because it did seem like it was meant for a younger audience. I do wish I liked this book a lot more in terms of writing but what can you do...
Maresi was a entertaining, original fantasy read but it was let down by it's writing which was slightly juvenile. I would definitely recommend to a younger audience.
Have you read Maresi? Did you like it? Leave it in the comments below.
See you soon,