I review Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff.
A priestess, a warrior, an aristocrat, a servant, a witch, a fisherman’s daughter and a slave destined for human sacrifice: seven very different women united by one common bond- they are all prisoners of the handsome, cruel Iskan, and they all want to escape. But in order to do so they must first find a way to overcome their differences and work together…
This prequel to the brilliant Maresi weaves multiple stories and voices into an ambitious and utterly engrossing fantasy tale.
Told through the perspectives of multiple women, Naondel is heartbreaking, breathtaking, and utterly feminist. It’s a story of women, sisterhood, and survival.
We begin with Kabira, a young woman from a wealthy family, who guards the secret of Anji, the spring that gives life – and controls it. Kabira falls in love with Iskan, son of a powerful man in the realm, and shows him what Anji can do. Iskan’s evil soon rears its head, and Kabira is terrified of what she’s unleashed. But she is trapped in his web.
The years pass, and Iskan acquires a large group of women, from different corners of the world. They live together, if not in harmony, then in understanding, and soon become allies against Iskan’s cruelty. Almost all of the women are subjected to his depraved sexual desires (although these aren’t described in detail, they may upset some readers), and all of them are dependent on his good graces. As Iskan grows more powerful, he also becomes more paranoid, and no one is safe.
The perspectives of all of the women are beautifully written. Their different characters and experiences shine through, and each one of them carries a moral for the reader to learn. Naondel is a feminist text because it not only describes the suffering of women (at the hands of men), but it also shows the strength of the sisterhood, and how important it is for women to come together.
Naondel is due out in April, and is the prequel to Maresi, which is now on my list to read. Turtschaninoff is an author to keep on your radar.