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.)
This review has been corrected. An earlier version incorrectly stated that the novel was translated from Finnish, not Swedish.