Monday, 27 January 2020

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Review: Maresi Red Mantle by Maria Turtschaninoff

Maresi Red Mantle by Maria Turtschaninoff

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Maresi Red Mantle by Maria Turtschaninoff

Published: 6th June 2019 | Publisher: Pushkin Children's Books | Cover Designer: Helen Crawford-White | Source: Publisher
Maria Turtschaninoff's Website

Maresi returns in the thrilling conclusion to the feminist fantasy epic The Red Abbey Chronicles.

For Maresi, like so many other girls, the Red Abbey was a haven of safety in a world ruled by brutal men. But now she is a young woman and it is time for her to leave. She must take all that she has learned from her sisters and return to her childhood home to share the knowledge she has gained.

But when Maresi returns to her village, she realises all is not well - the people are struggling under the rule of the oppressive Earl, and people are too busy trying to survive to see the value of her teachings. Maresi finds she must use all the terrible force of the Crone's magic to protect her people, but can she find the strength to do so when her heart is weakening with love for the first time?
From Goodreads.

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My other reviews of The Red Abbey Chronicles:
Maresi (Book 1) | Naondel (Book 2/Prequel)

WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.

I was sent this review copy for free by Pushkin Children's Books for the purposes of providing an honest review.


Having loved Maria Turtschaninoff's previous books in The Red Abbey Chronicles, Maresi and the prequel, Naondel, I was really excited for the final installment, Maresi Red Mantle. But while it was an enjoyable read, I was disappointed on the whole.

The story follows Maresi in the two years after her return to her home in Rova after being at the Red Abbey for eight years. But with her return it is almost a return to normal, everyday life. The writing is as engaging as it has always been, but not a huge amount happens, really. Maresi is much changed from the girl she once was; she is educated, and has her own traditions and religious affinities, that are at odds with those of Rova. They think her strange and different, and an outsider, even though they are her people. Even her mother is uncomfortable around her, and dislikes whenever Maresi talks about anything to do with the Red Abbey.

And so the story goes. She helps out on her family's farm, and she tries to start up the school she returned for. However, no-one sees any reason for the children to be taught to read or count over 20. They are farmers, their children will be farmers after them, there is no other life, so what's the need? But Maresi knows so many more options are open to them if they're educated - at the very least, the joy of reading books! The feelings of the people change when her ability to read manages to get the nĂ¡dor. the governor of Rova's foot of their neck, at least temporarily, and her school slowly grows. And Maresi experiences the joys of sex, and then slowly falling in love, over her two years.

And not a huge amount happens otherwise until near the end. There is some magic at times over the course of the story, and there's a sense that the story is building to something quite big, but even that was quite anti-climatic. While it is a pretty big deal, it lasts for only a few pages and then is over.

As I said, the writing is engaging, and so beautiful, so I was compulsively reading. And I did enjoy the fact that the lives of the farmers felt quite Pagan in how they followed the earth's cycles, and seemed to celebrate at least some of the same sabbats, which I have been learning about in my spiritual path. And there's even the Red Abbey's service to the First Mother and her aspects of Maiden, Mother, Crone, which is pretty much the same as the Pagan Triple Goddess.

But, overall, there just isn't a huge amount in the way of plot as with the previous two books. And it's such a shame, because I absolutely adored the first books! I kind of wish she'd stayed at the Red Abbey, to be honest. Life in Rova just wasn't as eventful. However, if you have read the previous books in the series, do read some other reviews before deciding whether or not to read Maresi Red Mantle.

Thank you to Pushkin Children's Books for the review copy.

You might also like:

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Have you ever been disappointed by the final book in a series? Have you ever read any books that feature Pagan themes that you would recommend? Have you read The Red Abbey Chronicles? And Maresi Red Mantle? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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