Did you know there’s a Greek island with a thousand-year-old monastic community where, to this day, only men are allowed to set foot? It’s called Mount Athos, and it inspired the setting for Maria Turtschaninoff’s Red Abbey Chronicles.
After visiting an exhibition about the island years ago, it made the fantasy writer very angry. “How can it be that in Europe, today, there’s still a place where women aren’t allowed?” she says of her immediate reaction.
So what did she do? What any author would do! She let her feelings spark a creative vision, which turned into a YA trilogy that evokes the world building and moral force of Ursela K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle.
“What would happen, I thought, if I turned that on its head,” Maria says of her brilliant idea after visiting the exhibition. “And had an island and an abbey where only women are allowed.”
In Maresi, the first book in the Red Abbey Chronicles, only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Thirteen-year-old Maresi lives a happy life in the Abbey, protected by the Mother and reveling in the House of Knowledge’s library. Into this idyllic existence comes Jai, a girl with a dark past. Soon dangers of the outside world follow Jai into the Abbey, and Maresi can no longer hide in books but must become one who acts.
Already an international sensation, Maresi makes its way stateside January 3. But before you pick up a copy, Maria has a few more words to say about the book and the themes you’ll find hidden between the covers. Check out her video below!
Read the first 29 pages of Maresi, here.