Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman | Book Review #386

Trigger Warning: Abuse, Verbal Abuse, Rape & Rape Mention

33123849Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

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’ve been excited about reading Tess of the Road for a few months now. I know that Tess of the Road was published back in February of this year. I finally got around to reading Tess of the Road in June, and I was fairly excited to read the novel. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the fact that Tess of the Road was in the same world as Seraphina. I didn’t want to read that book to have to understand Tess of the Road.

I was excited about meeting Tess because firstly, she has an adventure with a dragon. Secondly, she breaks the social norms and does her own thing. I tend to be enthusiastic to read books where the character(s) break social norms.

When I started reading Tess of the Road, I thought that the beginning of Tess’ story was incredibly cringe-y.

The second thought I have about Tess of the Road is if u want a book where there’s quite a bit of history; both Tess’s history and the world around her, then this one is for you.

What I didn’t like about Tess of the Road was that while we had Tess’s story in the present, seemingly every other event -no matter how small or big- would bring on memories of Tess’s past. It was cute in the beginning, but I’d have rather just read Tess’s story in a straight line, so to speak. Otherwise, I felt like the story was slow to go and to get the plot rolling.

What I ended up liking about Tess’ story was that we’re given hints as to what Tess did in her past, but we weren’t given any truths until it was revealed, and I really liked that. I was over the moon happy that certain truths, all of Tess’s truths, came to light.

However, the thing that I enjoyed most about this novel was that we see how utterly human Tess is. She  had astounding character development. I loved seeing Tess grow into the character she was by the end of the novel.

You could most definitely read Tess of the Road as a stand alone. However, I don’t think I will. I’m probably going to read the second book after it has been published.

While I didn’t get the dragons nor experience that I was hoping for, I did get an adventure and we saw exponential character growth within the main character, Tess.

I give Tess of the Road, 3 stars.

Happy Reading!
— Adele

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