Book Tuesday: ARC – Tess of the Road

Title: Tess of the Road
Author: Rachel Hartman
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Pages: 544

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.

Rachel Hartman has done it again people!

Trouble maker Tess has always been a headache to her family. After punching her cousin at her sister’s wedding and learning that her family plans to send her to a nunnery, she realizes it’s time to take matters into her own hands for once and leaves home disguised as a boy.  She meets Pathka, her quigutl friend from childhood and together they embark on an epic adventure, just like they used to dream about as children. However Tess’s past has a way of catching up with her and she must learn to face these nightmares that she’s kept dormant for so long. Only then will she be able to truly move on.

Oh I loved this book so much!! I mean, I loved Seraphina, but I think I just loved Tess’s story even more.  She has gone through some horrible things in her life and she learns to overcome them. Making mistakes along the way and helping others as well. I think I loved it so much because of how flawed Tess was. She’s far from a demure young lady and is the first to tell you that. She’s quick to anger and often spites herself because of that. I loved watching her journey (both figuratively and literally) into becoming more confident and allowing herself to finally forgive herself. There are so many characters along the way that it would be too many to mention here, but each one is complex and brings their own story that helps shape Tess.

The plot moved quite nicely. There wasn’t action on each page, but it was really well balanced and every new adventure Tess faces is there for a reason.  There are no real “villains” per se (although there are some really nasty characters that you wouldn’t mind seeing getting their comeuppance).  It’s more about how Tess views these characters and their actions or, more importantly, the reasons behind them.

I need more of Tess’s story immediately. It was such a vivid and wonderful narrative of somebody who is deeply in pain and taking that one last shot to help themselves. Its the book that every person needs to read, if only because we’ve all gone through our own hells and could all benefit from taking a journey on the road with Tess.

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