TESS OF THE ROAD, by Rachel Hartman, Random House Books for Young Readers, Feb. 27, 2018, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
Rachel Hartman returns to the world of the Southlands in Tess of the Road.
Tess lives in the medieval kingdom of Goredd. There, dragons and humans coexist in a seemingly harmonious way. And everyone has their place. Women are expected to be ladies, men are the protectors, and dragons can be whomever, whatever they choose.
While this may all sound fine in theory, it’s not always the case. Take Tess for example. Tess is different. From the time she was a small child, Tess has always in trouble, speaking out when she should remain quiet and sharing ideas that should be kept secret.
Despite everything, Tess tries to be good, but when she makes a grave mistake, it changes the course of her life forever. Even Tess can’t forget her disgraceful actions, and it seems her only path is a nunnery.
Every time Tess has had the chance to make a choice, it’s been the wrong one. So her parents have removed all options. But on the day she’s scheduled to join the nuns, Tess makes a choice one more time — a choice that sets her on the open road to a place where she might find peace and acceptance.
Tess of the Road may be set in the world of the Southlands, but it’s not a continuation of Seraphina or Shadow Scale. This book is all about Tess, who is Seraphina’s half sister. In fact, it stands so much apart that if you haven’t read Hartman’s previous books, you are just fine.
I wish I could say I like Tess of the Road as much as Hartman’s other books, but it is slow getting started. Tess doesn’t actually get on the road until you’re almost a full fourth of the way into the book. Things do pick up leading to her “escape,” but it takes a while.
Tess isn’t a particularly likeable character, and her overall story arc doesn’t feel new or interesting. I found myself pushing to get through this one, which isn’t something I like doing. I’d check this one out at the library before purchasing it.
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