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Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman: A Book Review

Tess of the Road
Author: Rachel Hartman
Genre: Ya, Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 2018
Pages: 538
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is. . . different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can't seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she's done is so disgraceful, she can't even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess's family decide the only path for her is a nunnery. 

     But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She's not running away, she's running towards something. What that something is, she doesn't know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else--a life where she might belong.

     Returning to the spellbinding world of the Southlands she created in the award-winning, New York Times bestselling novel Seraphina, Rachel Hartman explores self-reliance and redemption in this wholly original fantasy.

     My Review: Tess had always been an unruly girl. She had different ideas and could not keep herself from getting into trouble. Her parents, who were at a loss about how to handle Tess, decided to send her to a nunnery. Instead, Tess ran away and disguised herself as a man. She reunited with a quigutl, a species related to dragons, and set out to search for the mythological World Serpent. As Tess embarked on her journey, she made many friends along the way that taught her about life. Tess realized that the true journey is to find herself.

   Tess of the Road is a companion novel to Seraphina. At first, it took me some time to warm up to Tess. She is different from Seraphina. Seraphina is composed, intelligent, and thoughtful. Tess seemed rude, selfish, and temperamental. However, once I got more into Tess’s story she became a real and lovable character. I truly felt that I understood her. She had suffered from a tragic past. She was always looking to heal her past. She learns that the past is who she is and learns to accept it. Tess is also a very compassionate person. As she heals and develops friendships with others along the road, she heals herself.

   Overall, Tess of the Road is a journey of friendship, healing, forgiveness, and acceptance. The message of the novel is to learn to love yourself. Each of the characters play a role in shaping Tess’s character. Some of them are also on a quest of healing and self-discovery themselves. Therefore, each of the characters had a purpose and played a meaningful part in the story. The medieval setting of Tess of the Road was very realistic and did an excellent job in showing that women had very few options. After reading Tess of the Road, I’m very impatient for the sequel! Tess of the Road is a thought-provoking story that lingers with you! This is one of the most profound fantasies that I have read this year! I recommend this novel not only for women, but also to those who need a little inspiration and encouragement on their own life’s road.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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