Well...long time no see! These last couple months have been very up and down, mostly down, for me. I did try my hand at vlogging (I stopped, but I'm planning on getting back in to it a little later into 2017) and I had a wonderful time taking part in the OTSP Secret Sister Project! I don't really want to get in to any of the negative stuff that happened, but I will say that, with everything that was going on, I didn't do much reading. One of the last books that I read was given to me by Emma of Miss Print, I had scheduled the review to post while I knew I was going to be away from my blog and, of course, it didn't post at all. In fact, not only did it not post, it completely erased itself! So I have to beg her forgiveness for it being woefully overdue and rewrite the review.
Things are looking up for me though! I've had a wonderful Christmas at home with my Parents and sister and I have a few days more until I head back to start my new job. I also read the last book that Emma sent me with days to spare for my review! It helps that I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I'll get in to the whys and wherefores below. First, what book am I talking about?!?! That would be...drumroll... Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff, which is the first book in the Red Abbey trilogy. It has been translated from the original Swedish and is being released in the US on January 3rd, 2017.
Of all the books that Emma sent me last year, Maresi has to be the one that I was equally most excited for and most nervous about. Fantasy is one of the main genres that I read, but the more I read in it, the more difficult it is to find interesting new books. Many just seem to follow the same old tropes and have carbon copy characters. In fact, I've read several other reviews that said this book doesn't seem like fantasy, and it doesn't, but in a good way. The fantasy elements are woven so carefully and thoroughly into this book. They feel completely organic and it makes the story more "real" to me. I don't have to suspend my disbelief or wonder how something works because it just ~is~. The fantasy in this book was so masterfully done, that I honestly felt like I was reading a historical fiction book.
I also really loved the attention that Ms. Turtschaninoff paid to the little details. Many books focus mainly on the big action or long journey of a story and this book, while it did have a main action point, focused more on the everyday acts of life and the setting of the story. Two things made this focus supremely successful. First, because the book is set on an island, with all of the main characters coming to the island instead of grouping together linearly, the focus on the island and the Abbey itself made this book vivid and engrossing. I could clearly picture everything in my mind as I read, and it made the story that much more engrossing. Second, the main battle of this series is mentioned early in the story, it's actual events are only hinted at, and the entire story is spent in nervous anticipation of what is going to happen. By focusing on the ritual aspects of Abbey life, and all the chores and acts that the girls go through simply to live there, the fact that the battle cause a complete break from routine makes the battle itself more jarring.
Going in to this book, I wasn't sure how much I was going to like the fact that it is written in first person point of view. I don't usually like first person simply because the narrator ends up grating on my nerves. In the case of Maresi, I'm happy to say that didn't happen! Not only was Maresi a fun and interesting character to read, her nature and involvement made the story more detailed than it would have been if it were written from someone else's point of view. It also fed in to the feeling of connectedness that this story gave me.
The only part of this story was the general sense of negativity towards men that permeated the book. I understand that this negativity is what drives the story towards its conclusion, and it that it worked very well. However, I despise overgeneralizations and that all I felt we were given. There are multiple cases of men being terrible human beings, but we are only given Maresi's dad as an example of a good man. I think the story could have used a more balanced view of men, and that would have made Jai's experience and the ultimate battle more impactful.
Aesthetically, this book was amazing. The writing was clear, flowed well, and the descriptions were vivid but not too wordy. The cover for the ARC was just text, but seeing the finished cover makes me very happy. It fits well and gives you a good sense of what the book is like. Overall, I really loved Maresi and give it 5 out of 5 stars. I cannot wait to read the rest of this trilogy!