March 1, 2018

Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Title: Tess of the Road
Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House Books for Young
Release date: February 27th 2018
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC

Rating: 3.5/5

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In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

I loved Seraphina and Shadow Scale written by the same author, so when I saw that it was going to be another book in the same world, I knew that I had to read it.

Tess of the Road features sixteen-year-old Tess Dombegh, half-sister of Seraphina (main character of the Seraphina duology). Tess has spent the last two years in the court of Goredd, trying to get her twin sister a husband, but now that she has fulfilled her mission and her sister is about to get married, she has two options to enter a convent or to go live with her twin sister and future husband, and be the governess of her future nephews and nieces, but Tess makes a mistake and reveals a secret that could endanger her sister's marriage, so after the uproar her family decides to send her to the convent. But in the end Tess decides to flee and try to start a new life in the Kingdom of Ninys where nobody knows her and for greater security she decides to dress as a boy, since traveling as a woman is very dangerous. On the road she meets Pathka, a quigutl (a small species of sub-dragon), a childhood friend and someone who always told her fantastic stories about the huge snakes that lived under the earth. So once reunited they decide to travel together and look for these mythical creatures.

Tess had been impulsive and daring all her life, easy to get into trouble, in fact as a child she had the nickname "spank magnet", due to the spanks she received every time she got into trouble for her pranks, unlike her twin sister who always did the right thing and the proper thing of a lady. But due to a mistake she made when she was thirteen years old, her future change and despite her young age, she became bitter and resentful, in addition to having problems with alcohol, to mitigate her feelings of guilt.

Tess of the Road is about the journey of a young girl who tries to find her place in the world after having made mistakes that left her marked, as well as learning to love herself and forgive herself, in order to start a new life and not just run away from her problems.

Initially I was not liking the story because Tess is not a likeable person, so it took me a while to like the book, especially since I was waiting to see Seraphina, to which we get to see a little. Tess in the course of the story goes from a bitter and angry young woman to a woman who is learning her place in a difficult world where she lives because is a world difficult for a single women, without the protection of her family. In the end I liked it, it has a good ending that got me hooked to read the next book.

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