This novel absolutely blew me away, tore my heart out and rebuilt me. It was far more than I ever expected, even though my expectations were high.
Naondel is the sequel to Maresi, a book I read earlier this year and absolutely loved. In Maresi, the island of Menos is built around the history turned mythology of seven women who founded the Red Abbey.
In Naondel, we go back to Kabira the Mother, the woman who it began with. Protector of Anji of the pool, her duties are distracted when she falls for the Vizier’s son, Iskan. As Kabira’s infatuation with Iskan deepens, so too does his hold on her and Karenokoi. And so begins the story of how the women came together.
I need to be clear here, where Maresi talked briefly of gendered violence, Naondel shows it. Rape and violence against women from men are regular factors in this novel (in depth content notes at the end), and I’d urge survivors to choose their moments to read this, as with other books of its ilk like Who Fears Death.
Naondel is a story about women joining together, recognising the way patriarchy and male violence has damaged them and transforming their resilience into sisterhood. Each chapter is told by a new crew member of Naondel, occasionally returning to key characters such as Kabira and Garai. Sadly Estegi herself, ever present, never gets her own point of view chapter – I hope that we get a greater investigation of her in the future.
The wonderful thing about The Red Abbey Chronicles thus far is that there is no set order to reading them. Reading Naondel second has made me appreciate the mythology behind Maresi, and I feel that this is probably the best way round to read them.
If you love feminist fantasy literature of the likes of Margaret Atwood, Nnedi Okorafor, Naomi Alderman and Melinda Salisbury, then you are not going to be disappointed by Maria Turtschaninoff.
Maria kindly wrote about curiosity in her writing for me this week – find out more about her writing through the Naondel blog tour.
What to read next:
- Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
- The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
- The Power by Naomi Alderman
Thank you kindly to Maria Turtschaninoff, Vicki Berwick and Pushkin Press for sending me a copy of Maresi and Naondel to read.
Content warnings: rape, physical violence against women, sexual violence towards women, self harm.
Mild spoilers in terms of LGBTQ+ content, Naondel features a f/f relationship and an intersex character.