NAONDEL is unlike any book I’ve read before, particularly in the YA category. It’s rare to see YA cover so many consecutive years with some characters aging out of teen years and new characters just entering them. Turtschaninoff introduces several protagonists, each unique, complex, and with a distinct voice. We see how they are pitted against each other from the beginning, in very realistic ways. Not only is the antagonist setting them against each other by favoritism, but as more years of abuse pass, some of the women mentally survive by closing themselves off and keeping everyone out of reach. Their coping mechanisms are as different as their personalities. Only by slowly learning to trust each other and seek out support are they able to find their freedom. I was constantly amazed at how the author managed to build each relationship between all of the women. Some find an ally in the other; some a true love; some a powerful friendship.
While some may find the beginning on the slower side, each chapter truly has a purpose that builds into an incredible and emotional big picture. This is not a novel to pick up hoping for a smooth-sailing story, but rather, one where tissues and perhaps a stress ball should be on hand. The conclusion combines a realistic and positive balance of hope, success, heartbreak, and pain.
By the time I turned the last page in NAONDEL, I had already bought a copy of MARESI to read as soon as possible. The Red Abbey world of magic, feminism, and cutting voice makes this a remarkable series.