This has been a really good month for me! I’ve been so excited to read this! The book gods are shining down on me right now!
This book is the second in the Red Abbey Chronicles series, but it actually serves as a kind of prequel to the first book, Maresi. You can read my review of that book if you follow the link. This book follows the same themes, but it fills in the backstory to Maresi.
The Red Abbey, the setting for Maresi, lies on an island and is home to displaced girls and women. It is a haven for the broken, abused and powerless. The women there raise the girls and work together to create a society of love, acceptance, and safety. The inhabitants receive education and training as well. It sounds wonderful! Naondel is the story of the women who founded this society.
The story begins with a woman named Kabira. She has access to a source of magical power which belongs to her family. She is courted by a man named Iskan, who only wants access to this magic. He is a cruel sociopath, and as the years pass he becomes more and more powerful and sadistic. He collects women and girls into his harem. These are gathered from different continents and cultures, and though their heritage is dissimilar, they are alike in courage and resolve. These wives and concubines, are abused and controlled by Iskan, but are in the end indomitable. The women come to care for and respect one another and help one another to cope with their circumstances, and rise above them. They are a remarkable group of women.
Maresi was a little feminist gem of a book. I knew Naondel would be written in the same vein, but this book pleased me more than I imagined. It reminds me a little of The Joy Luck Club and other books by Amy Tan who consistently writes moving stories full of wonderful, strong women. Their strong relationships with one another are the focus of the books, and Naondel is much the same. It also reminded me of a tv show I watched recently. Big Little Lies starts out as a “Real Housewives of Monterey” type show, but deepens into a conversation about violence against women. It highlights, particularly in it’s final moments, how powerful women can become when we act as advocates for one another. If we can get past the superficial differences among us, we can start to achieve great things.
Please read Naondel & Maresi, especially if you’re of the feminist persuasion. You won’t be sorry you did. I can’t wait for the next book to come out. I fully intend to grovel at the Publisher’s door when ARC time arrives for book 3.
Song for this book: Mr. Moon by Eisley
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley