Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff
Series: The Red Abbey Chronicles #2
Publication: April 6th 2017 by Pushkin Press
Format: Hardback Pages: 480
‘In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose – to obey. Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servants; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power. But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming. In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free. And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.’ – Goodreads
I read the first book in the Red Abbey Chronicles, Maresi, back in January and I fell in love with it. Naondel is the second book in the series and the story takes place before the events that occur in Maresi.
In Maresi, we were introduced to this wonderful Red Abbey that kept women from all walks of life safe; it was a sanctuary founded by a group of women a long time ago.
Well, in Naondel we’re told the story of that very group of women. The book is split up between the perspectives of each of those women before they ever came to know one another. We learn about the tragic events that led to the seven women uniting as one in Ohaddin, about what led to them needing to form a sanctuary in the first place. Naondel chronicles a history of horrific violence endured by these women, it was hard to read at times.
Much like Maresi, Turtschaninoff continued to demonstrate inner strength and solidarity amongst the women in Naondel. As mentioned before, the Red Abbey is a safe space for women, Naondel is the story that explains the need for a safe space. There’s no male hero in this book, it’s all about a group of women working together.
The confinement of Anji, the magical pool of water to which one of the women, Kabira, is guardian, juxtaposes with the imprisonment of the women in Ohaddin. I thought the connection the women had with nature was interesting, they were all in sync with nature and felt comforted by it. The women also expressed hurt and shock at places like Anji being boarded up or destroyed. I loved the way Turtshcaninoff described scenes, the writing was lovely, each scene was riddled with emotion.
I thought Iskan, the antagonist, let the book down. He was one-dimensional and predictable. Iskan’s power-hungry nature and his aggression aren’t explained and, at times, I felt it was put down to him simply being a man. Which I had a problem with. I thought it strange that the other men surrounding Iskan did not do anything to help the women, or to even display some remorse for them.
Naondel can be read as a standalone; you don’t need to have read Maresi to read this book. You can even read Naondel before you read Maresi. I was hoping the sequel to Maresi would be a continuation of her adventures, but I’m glad Naondel explained the origins of the Red Abbey as it gives the series a good foundation. I am interested in continuing this series because I do really enjoy reading Turtschaninoff’s work, and I love the way she portrays female relationships.
Trigger Warnings: domestic abuse, rape.