Award-winning Rachel Hartman's newest YA is a tour de force and an exquisite fantasy for the #metoo movement.
"Tess of the Road is astonishing and perfect. It's the most compassionate book I've read since George Eliot's Middlemarch." NPR
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 elsea 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.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR * BOSTON GLOBE * The Chicago Public Library * KIRKUS REVIEWS
Four starred reviews!
"The world building is gorgeous, the creatures are vivid and Hartman is a masterful storyteller. Pick up this novel, and savor every page." Paste Magazine
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.90(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
As a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of Seraphina. Rachel earned a degree in comparative literature but eschewed graduate school in favor of bookselling and drawing comics. Born in Kentucky, she has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada. To learn more, please visit SeraphinaBooks.com or RachelHartmanBooks.com.
Read an Excerpt
The twins had taken their morning stitchery to the Tapestry Salon, one of the less fashionable sitting rooms in the palace. Jeanne liked the quiet, and Tess the tapestries, which depicted a seagoing adventure involving serpents and icebergs and flying fish. A younger Tess might have gone in search of the weavers to ask them what legend they (or their forebears) had been trying to depict; she might have scoured the library for references or asked Pathka the quigutl, who knew an awful lot about serpents of every sort.
Tess the lady-in-waiting, however, sadder and sixteen, had no time for such involved and esoteric interests. Who would have dressed old Lady Farquist if Tess was selfishly haring off after her personal curiosity? More important: who would put Jeanne forward in the world and find her a husband?
Jeanne, embroidering at the other end of the couch, was too sweet and mild to do it herself. If she were, left to her own devices, no one would have noticed her at all.
“Lady Eglantine’s soiree is tonight,” Tess was saying as she basted a new sash onto Jeanne’s blue satin gown. She’d add mother-of-pearl beads, too—she’d gleaned some off Lady Mayberry in exchange for a particularly succulent bit of gossip—and no one would recognize the dress when she was done. The Dombegh twins couldn’t afford many new clothes, so Tess, the stronger seamstress, had learned to be resourceful.
“Couldn’t we stay in for once?” said Jeanne, leaning her blond head against the back of the velveteen couch and gazing out the window at the snowy courtyard. “I’m tired of all this.”
Jeanne was tired? Imagine the tiredness of the person who dressed her, altered her clothes, and carried her messages. The one who vetted eligible bachelors and navigated the treacherous web of palace politics with no thought for herself, doing everything for Jeanne’s happiness and that their family might be saved. That person must be bloody exhausted.
Tess basted fiercely, stabbing the needle in and out, and kept her mouth clamped shut.
The twins had no option but to attend every soiree until Jeanne’s future was settled. Tess frowned over her work, trying to find the words that would best persuade her sister. “I’ve heard a certain someone is going to be there,” she said, tilting her head and batting her brown eyes.
Jeanne knew whom Tess meant, and blushed, but still she opened her mouth to protest.
And that was when the miracle happened: the door of the salon flew open and there stood a strapping young man of twenty-two, Lord Richard Pfanzlig, the exact same “certain someone” Tess had alluded to.
Tess hadn’t planned this meeting; the spooky timeliness of his appearance raised the hairs on her arms. He looked windblown, flakes of snow glistening in his thick dark hair; his commanding nose shone red from the cold, and his cloak swirled dramatically around him.
Tess’s heart quickened, though he wasn’t here for her. She didn’t want him for herself or envy Jeanne (more than usual), but he cut a romantic figure, and Tess was not immune to romance, in spite of everything.
He whipped off his cloak, tossed it toward a chair, and missed, but no matter. All eyes were upon his finely fitted maroon-and-gold doublet, his trunk hose, and his shiny, shiny boots. Or maybe his eyes, which smoldered at Jeanne from across the room.
Jeanne couldn’t bear it. She squeaked and grew intent upon the shepherdess in her embroidery hoop. Tess sighed inwardly, praying her shy sister wouldn’t spoil this opportunity.
“I heard Lord Chauncerat intended to ask for your hand,” cried Lord Richard, clasping a fist to his chest. “Am I too late?”
So that was why he’d come. Tess resumed her stitching with some satisfaction. Lord Chauncerat, of course, had made no proposal; he was a Daanite, uninterested in women, but he kept it secret. Tess had found out, or more accurately, something in his gaze had reminded her of Cousin Kenneth and she’d guessed. For her silence, Lord Chauncerat had permitted her to take his name in vain and start the tiniest rumor that he might have a modicum of interest in Jeanne.
That was all it took at court. You put a copper coin in the gossip engine, every tongue polished it up, and it came out unrecognizably golden. By the time the rumor reached Lord Richard’s ears, it would’ve been inflated to ridiculous proportions. He’d burst in as if expecting to interrupt the wedding itself.
Jeanne wasn’t finding her voice. Tess bailed her out: “Indeed, Lord Richard, you have arrived just in time.”
His face lit up as if Jeanne herself had spoken, and not Jeanne’s oracle at the other end of the couch. Tess didn’t mind. She’d have plunged her hand into her sister’s back and moved her mouth like a ventriloquist’s dummy’s if that would have helped.
Lord Richard crossed the room in three strides and dropped to one knee before Jeanne. The embroidery stand was in his way; Tess edged over and hooked it with her foot. Jeanne’s eyes widened as the frame drifted away, leaving her no choice but to meet Lord Richard’s eyes.
She looked at her hands. Tess cursed silently.
It wasn’t that Jeanne didn’t like this suitor; the problem was entirely that she did, rather a lot, and that she’d been raised on the strictures of St. Vitt to keep her desires severely under wraps. It was devilishly hard to encompass both.
Tess felt for her, but this was important.
Lord Richard took Jeanne’s hands—clever Richard!—and Jeanne looked up at last, flushing pink all over. She was beautiful even pink, Tess noted with some satisfaction. Richard seemed to think so, too, because he pressed her knuckles to his lips.
Tess tried not to watch, even though she was supposed to be the chaperone, guaranteeing that nothing got out of hand. Privately she sort of wished things would get out of hand, just a little. It would have eased her heart to think that even pure, virginal Jeanne was a mere mortal.
As if Lord Richard could read Tess’s mind, he released Jeanne’s hands and was back on his feet again, two yards of decency between them. Tess sighed.
“Jeanne,” he said gruffly, his heart evidently in his throat, “I want to marry you. Would you have a fellow like me?”
A rich, handsome fellow who seemed utterly smitten with her? Unless she was terribly stupid. Tess snipped a stray thread with her scissors; she hadn’t raised Jeanne to be stupid. She hadn’t made every mistake she could possibly make, hadn’t given everything up, so that Jeanne could sit there, saying nothing, as if she were stupid.
“Say yes, Nee,” Tess mumbled around the needle between her teeth.
Jeanne rose, her green day dress draping demurely around her, and curtsied to Lord Richard. There should have been no suspense, but Tess found herself sweating all the same, her eyes glued to the duo, tall and dark facing short and pale. Lord Richard fidgeted with a button on his doublet, which Tess found humanizing and endearing. If Jeanne should turn him down, it was going to take a lot of looking to find another suitor half this well suited.
In a voice so sure and strong that Tess couldn’t quite believe it was her sister speaking, Jeanne said, “Lord Richard, I would happily accept your offer, but do you understand my family’s situation? My father was unjustly stripped of his law license, and we’ve struggled ever since. I should feel ashamed to put too great a burden on your house, and so I cannot agree to marry you without being certain you know how many obligations come with me.”
Tess’s jaw dropped; this was not part of the script. That is, it was the truth—the family desperately needed Jeanne to marry for money—but it was nothing anyone would, or could or should, utter aloud. This was a game everyone played but no one acknowledged. Tess felt vaguely sick. She’d worried that Jeanne would look too mercenary, and here was Jeanne herself, laying it all out on the table.
Lord Richard, however, was smiling, and not a strained what have I gotten myself into? smile, but a smile full of warmth and gentleness that almost took Tess’s breath away. “My dear, there is no burden your family could place upon my house that we could not easily bear, or that I would not willingly take on for your sake.”
Saints above, he was perfect. Jeanne deserved no less. How had they gotten so lucky? If Tess felt a self-pitying pang for her own ill fortune, for Will and Dozerius and everything else she’d lost, she suppressed the feeling almost before she noticed it. This was not the time; the moment was all Jeanne’s, as was right.
Jeanne, her courage spent, returned to her bashful, blushing self again. She stammered something adorably grateful; Richard, all passion, took her hands once more. He shot a glance at Tess, asking permission. Tess nodded curtly and turned her eyes resolutely to her hemming.
She didn’t keep them there. She peeked through her lashes and thought her heart would burst as Lord Richard chastely kissed Jeanne’s cheek. Tess recalled such joys, even if she would never again experience them; indeed, she wanted more than that for Jeanne—he should kiss her lips at least!—but Lord Richard came from a devout household, as strict as theirs, and passion could not override his upbringing. Not today, anyway.
He didn’t linger, either, because it would not do to have tales told. One of Jeanne’s great appeals, in the absence of money, was that she had not the faintest whiff of scandal about her. She was innocence incarnate. Lord Richard wouldn’t compromise himself by compromising her.
When he left, Jeanne turned toward her twin. Tess’s smile froze when she realized her sister’s eyes had filled with tears.
“Dear heart, those are tears of joy, I hope?” said Tess softly, holding out her hand.
Jeanne flopped onto the couch and laid her head on Tess’s shoulder, where she began to weep in earnest.
Tess set her sewing aside and put her arms around her sister, saying, “No, no, why are you sad? If you dislike Lord Richard, we will find you someone else. Never mind the money, never mind how long it takes. Papa and Mama will find a way to send Paul to school. Seraphina will swoop in and fix everything—” She wouldn’t, in fact, because she couldn’t, and Jeanne knew this as well as Tess did, but Tess felt it incumbent upon herself to keep her mouth moving, to keep her sister’s spirits up. “Something will come through for us. It always does.”
Jeanne drew her handkerchief out of her bodice and held it to her streaming nose. “That’s not it, Sisi. I’m happy to marry Richard. I believe I may be a bit in love with him.”
Tess drew herself up a little, taken aback. “Whatever is the matter, then?”
Jeanne’s cheeks were speckled like a rosy quail egg, her eyes rimmed in pink. “I can’t help remembering that you’re older than me, whatever we may pretend to the world. I don’t deserve this honor and happiness, not when they should have been yours.”
Tess’s heart contracted, wringing out the unselfish joy she’d felt earlier. Wasn’t this typical, though? Not only did Tess not get what should have been hers by birth, but now she had to comfort dear, tenderhearted Jeanne, who was upset by the unfairness of it. Tess did not often feel true resentment toward her sister, but in this moment she did. Soothing Jeanne’s guilt, on top of everything else, seemed a bit much to ask.
“There, there,” she said, patting her sister’s back mechanically. “We both know I’ve gotten what I deserved. If I had really valued any of these things, surely I’d have had the good sense not to throw them away.”
Jeanne sniffled and nodded. Tess turned her face away, unwilling to let her sister glimpse any anger in her eyes. It wasn’t Jeanne’s fault; every ounce of blame could be ascribed to Tess herself. Could be and should be. She ascribed it with all her might.
Only an ungrateful bitch of a sister could feel angry at dear, gentle Jeanne.
Tess walked through the rest of her day, waiting on Lady Farquist, laughing at gentlemen’s jokes during dinner, steering Jeanne’s footsteps toward the obligatory soiree. Jeanne and Richard exchanged lingering glances across the room but said no more than a coy word to each other. Tess didn’t care what they did; she was marking time until she could finally be alone.
Around midnight, Tess closed the door to her little room, which was technically a walk-in closet; her “elder” sister got the suite’s main boudoir. She fished around behind Jeanne’s hanging gowns and three pairs of shoes and drew out a little bottle of plum brandy, which she’d won off Lady Morena. She rationed the stuff religiously, because one never knew when it would be possible to obtain another, but tonight she filled her little glass three times. The fumes streaked painfully up her nose (plum brandy was not as delicious as it sounded), making her cough every time she exhaled, but she didn’t mind. She flopped onto her cot, pleasantly dizzy, and joy was finally able to rise up in her again, a single bubble of hope.
After two years at court, diligently securing her sister’s future, Tessie would be free.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This series continues to be excellent
This was such a fun, entertaining read. I love the world that Rachel Hartman has created! Tess is such a fiesty, stubborn and fun character. I loved watching her grow! She started as a sullen teen, who lashed out at everyone and grew until she became a strong, capable woman. It was an absolute delight to journey with her! ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. P. S. It took me awhile to read this simply because I started it, then had to backtrack. I highly recommend reading Seraphina and Shadow Scale before reading this. Just to get an idea of the world and some of the characters a little more clearly.
I usually prefer my fantasy on a grander scale but this character-driven story of smart, damaged, prickly Tess's journey sucked me in as deeply as any of my favorite epic adventures. Hartman's language is gorgeous, with so many touches of humor and beauty. Tess sets off in search of a fabled "World Serpent" but also to escape some fairly wrenching and infuriating emotional abuse from her family (and society). There's a lot of tough stuff here (including sexual violence and persistent misogyny) but it's also a book that made me feel like my heart and mind were stronger for having read it. This is set in the same lush and vivid medieval fantasy (with shapeshifting dragons) world as the authors previous duology, but I don't think you absolutely need to have read them (I have not yet read Shadowscale myself).
Thank you to JRachel Hartman, Random House Children’s, Random House Books for Young Readers, and NetGalley for allowing me the extreme pleasure of access to an advanced reader copy of “Tess of the Road” for an honest review. Do you like damsels and dragons? Do you like Young Adult and Fantasy? You will find all of that RIGHT HERE. But you will find so, so, so much more. a Tess of the Road is a marvel of #metoo movement for the current YA generation of readers (and all those, of any age, who love both Young Adult Literature and have their pulse on the best representations coming out about it). This a story about suffering and the great long path from it, how hard it can be, how cruel the world can be, but that there are endless reasons never to give up, and that effort wasn’t for nothing. It’s an acknowledgment that no matter how alone you feel, you are never truly alone, and no matter how far down society thinks they can push you, you can still be relisent, both in strong and soft ways, giving their labels no mind to you.
Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman, is a wonderful fantasy fiction novel about a girl named Tess. The novel is about a young girl named Tess who faces challenges in her life. Because she is a girl, she isn’t able to do anything without being in danger, so she decides to disguise herself as a man and runs away from her family. Throughout her journey on the road, she discovers many things and goes through a transformation. The book is shown to use 3rd person limited type of point of view and stays constant with it throughout the book by following the protagonist, Tess. The pacing of the novel wasn’t fast or slow. The author keeps constant with the pace up until small parts of the novel where the pace felt fast. The pace of the novel never felt slow since the author made sure the story never stopped and kept flowing. The antagonist, William, is the antagonist since he goes against Tess, the protagonist. William tends to pop up in flashbacks in Tess’s memories and haunts her life. He also poses as an obstacle towards the protagonist by not allowing her to do things she wants to do. The protagonist, Tess, is the protagonist because she is the main character of the novel and is followed throughout her journey by the reader. The major conflict of the novel is between Tess and society. Tess is against society since they expect woman to be well-mannered and she isn’t. My favorite character would be Tess because of her rebellious attitude and the way she acts without a care in the world. Tess is known for causing trouble when she was younger, and I believe this closely resembles me when I was a child, which in turn proves why she is my favorite character. I wouldn’t change anything about the novel because the author has written it with precise intentions and for that reason I wouldn’t want to ruin a masterpiece. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and its roller coaster moments where there were unexpected outcomes. I would recommend it to people to who love fantasy novels and adventure stories.
Tess of the Road is a travelogue of the Southlands, part of the fictional world developed by Rachel Hartman in the Seraphina duology. Ultimately, Tess of the Road is a journey of self-discovery. As the younger, somewhat infamous sister of Seraphina, Tess has a tough road ahead of her. She has been branded a troublemaker. Seemingly never able to do anything right, despite her many sacrifices to improve her family financial and social standing, Tess gives up on trying to help and please everyone and runs away. But Tess isn’t just running away from the responsibilities of finding a good match for her twin sister in the Goreddi court. Tess has a bigger secret she is running from and Hartman does an excellent job weaving this reveal into the larger narrative of Tess’s journey. In light of the #MeToo movement, Tess’s secret will resonate with many readers. A young woman taken in by the first man to notice her for the intelligent young lady that she is when she can’t yet see it for herself, Tess’s confidence and self-worth is shaken when the young man suddenly disappears. Self-loathing and self-doubt take root in Tess’s heart and mind. As Tess shares her physical and emotional struggles throughout her journey through the Southlands, the reader will be heartbroken, but by the end, admiration prevail. In addition to discovering the truth behind Tess’s true reasons for running away, Hartman also gives readers a bit of insight into the dragon subspecies of quigutl. Throughout the original duology and in the early pages of Tess of the Road, there is a negative feeling around the quigutls. But Tess sees them for more. When she crosses paths with an old quigutl friend, Pathka, she seizes the opportunity to become reacquainted with the quigtul culture and invites Pathka to join her on her trip. Through their adventures together, Tess discovers that she and the quigutls have something in common — neither are thought of fondly by others, especially those of their own species, and both of them have troubled pasts. Tess isn’t as alone as she thinks and she soon discovers there is more to everyone that what is presented publically. The craft with which Hartman layers the history and mythology of Goredd with the characters’ backstories is captivating. There are parallels between the layers that are not immediately realized at first blush. Beyond the idea of looking for acceptance of self and of others, Hartman tackles what each culture, human and quigtul, believes is a healthy parent/child relationship. As each character comes to grip with their own personal narrative and bits of truth are discovered there is release and acceptance on a personal level. (It turns out that sometimes the world at large isn’t ready to accept that legends have some truth behind them.) This new novel from Hartman, set in the same world as the Seraphina duology, allows readers to return to the amazing world of Goredd where humans and dragons coexist in a tentative peace. Tess of the Road has heart and is a rewarding emotional journey to discover the truth of a legend and the truth of self.
I got this book off of Netgalley as an eARC. I have mixed feelings about this book. It has a strong female protagonist as does Seraphina, however it has the whole rape backstory, which sucks. So the whole premise is that Tess needs to get away from her mother as she's pretty much abusive and hates Tess for being raped and getting pregnant as the religion of her mom is St. Vitt which is an analog of Christianity. Tess then gets the opportunity to run away from home and meets up with Pathka, her childhood quigtl friend. We then find out that quigtl can change their sex so Pathka is now male instead of the female quigtl that Tess knew. This is important as quigtl have the gender neutral pronoun 'ko' which never gets used when talking about Pathka. This really bothered me because there is a correct pronoun and it's not being used. There's also a homeless man that Tess is horribly cruel to, just so she can have a moment of redemption getting help for him. After she meets Pathka then the whole book is about her going after ko goal of Anathuthia. After thus it's pretty much set in arcs of what happens. She gets to a place then thing happens, gets to another place and another thing happens. That may or may not be your thing, but to me it felt like it was padding. Overall it felt as if there was a hatred of women as it was women that seemed to be the ones hurting Tess, even inadvertently, to where she'd run to the arms of a man to seek consoling. This is kind of painful to see for a book that wants strong women. They just don't seem to support each other as much as I'd like to see. Overall it's not a bad book, but I really wish it wouldn't have done a lot of things it did.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book! Let me start by saying that I came into Tess of the Road not knowing very much about the world, its characters, or the backstory. One thing I liked right away was that we didn't get any big info-dumps regarding the author's other series. I didn't feel like I needed to have read Seraphina before reading this book, which was good. Unfortunately, because of the big time gap between the first chapter (when Tess is very young) and the next chapter (when Tess is practically an adult) I suddenly felt like I was missing a lot of information. The beginning of the book was more centered around family tensions. Tess's relationship with her mother was especially toxic. I felt for Tess when her mother was constantly criticizing her and making her feel like she was just in the way. I sympathized with her and hated how abusive her mother was. I was also frustrated with how her father seemed very passive and didn't take on much of an active role. It seemed that despite the father's mistakes it was really Tess who paid for his sins. She was the family punching bag, always being picked on and blamed. And in the middle of all this chaos, Tess relied upon her twin, Jeanne. It was always them "against the world". Jeanne was the ideal child, doted upon, favored, and loved and Tess took it upon herself to shelter Jeanne from the worst the world had to offer. She focused her whole life on helping Jeanne navigate life, helping her avoid her own mistakes, ensuring her a good future. I felt like we didn't really get to know Jeanne very well. She was always in control of her emotions, proper, and helpful. It's only after other events transpire that Tess finds herself at a crossroads. She can keep trying to earn her family's acceptance or she can run away and try to carve her own future. One Tess decides to start over on the road her path leads her to an old childhood friend, Pathka, and soon they begin an adventure to finds the world's serpents. In general, I found Tess's character to be interesting. Tess seemed to be caught between wanting to be good daughter her family expected and the incorrigible troublemaker everyone told her she was. At the same time, however, it wasn't enough to really get me to fall in love with the book. Tess had some minor adventures while on the road. With this book having dragons I was expecting more action and adventure, but really Tess of the Road is more of Tess's personal journey of self-acceptance. It dealt with some very adult topics like being a good mother, alcoholism, verbal abuse, losing a child, and rape. It didn't read like a YA at times which was neither good nor bad, just something to be aware of. The journey to find the world's serpents really felt like an aside/background to the book. Tess's issues always took precedence over everything else. I was expecting the fantasy elements to take more of an active role in the story besides just the characters' races/species or the background but that wasn't the case in this book. Really, the setting could have been anywhere else with all human characters and the story could go on just the same with Tess on the road. For it being in the fantasy genre I was kind of disappointed on that end. Overall, I think this book had an interesting character and premise, but it just didn't deliver on the fantasy end.
Tess of the Road (Hardcover) by Rachel Hartman Tess of the road is the third book in the Seraphina series. This complex fantasy world has many contingencies that bring insight to the reader about our social norms and complications in modern society. Rachel Hartman uses the fantastic aspects of Porphyria to show that prejudice and injustice are something that although part of the world we should not accept. Tessie is an imaginative child that believes wholeheartedly in the fantasy put forth in her favorite book, The adventures of the Porphyrian Pirate Dozerius and his valorous crew. She longs for adventure, but her accepting heart has a lot to overcome. Her family has many secrets, some the universal secrets of childhood, some that are so deadly for her family that their exposure would be a death sentence, and some are those things a society use to excuse their exploitation and persecution of people and creatures they do not completely understand. Tessie has much of the same strengths as her half sister Seraphina, and some of her own unique talents that will leave the reader that already loved the Seraphina series with another character to cheer, adore, and rally for. This is a great Young Adult novel for children to use their own eyes to see the truth, their hearts to uncover the truth, and their resolve to face their consequences.
I did not completely hate this book but was fooled by the cover. I wanted a tremendous amount of dragons and fighting and a epic high fantasy. Instead, I found the MC to be tedious and NO DRAGONS WHATSOEVER! From the disaster she causes at her sister’s wedding to her pretending to be the misunderstood victim for the rest of the book. I believe that she acts out to get attention and that she chooses to put herself into the situations that make her seem to be “misunderstood”. I struggled to finish this book because the author kept going off on random tangents and adding so much fluff that the storyline suffered more for the additional wording. The reader must undergo so many dark undertones and constant chaos that the story becomes too heavy of a read to enjoy. Yes, I believe that the author has the ability to spin a fantastic tale and to build worlds that are viable. No, I do not believe that she achieved that with Tess. It takes a huge toll on me to DNF a book so I tried to start and restart this book too many times. I eventually gave up and called it a lost cause. Just because this book is not for me, does not mean that I would sway anyone from reading Tess. I would encourage those who love a story that supports full-on feminism. The only that I even remote enjoyed about this book was the cover and it was a complete LIE! I do not understand why there was a dragon simmering with the night sky on it? Unless Tess thinks that she is some type of dragon for being rogue, disconnected from the world, and constantly the center of controversy? That being said, I am highly disappointed that I was misled into wanting this book because of the cover and the misleading blurb! I do appreciate Netgalley and Random House Children’s Publishing company for allowing me access to the book for this review. I apologize that the book was not for me and that I cannot say I enjoyed it.
I want to state this at the beginning- Tess of the Road is one of those books that you will either love or not. If you’re looking for dragons, high fantasy adventure, or swash-buckling action, this is not the book for you. Instead, if you’re looking for a beautifully written, thought-provoking, and insightful story, this is the book for you. Yes, Tess is an unlikeable narrator. Does it ultimately matter? No. I applaud Hartman for her portrayal of Tess. Rather than the typical fantasy heroine, Tess is unlikeable, unsympathetic, and absolutely unconventional. And yet, there was something raw, real, and entirely human about her. I didn’t like her but I could understand how she had become the person she was. As the story progressed and more of Tess’s story was revealed, Hartman beautifully addresses a wide variety of difficult topics. In particular, I loved the way in which she utilized flashbacks to identify each specific aspect of the formative events in Tess’s life that led her to where she is now. Tess of the Road is a novel about journeys. There is Tess’s physical journey away from her home. There is her quigutl friend’s spiritual journey. And, perhaps my favorite, Tess’s journey of self-acceptance and discovery. That was the one that resonated with me the most. I loved that Hartman didn’t give her heroine an overnight or easy fix for her problems but rather tracked Tess’s on-going journey day by painful day. She sometimes fails. There were setbacks, constant struggles against her inner voice, and difficult memories to overcome. But Tess kept going. And Hartman did a beautiful job of showing the strength it takes to do that. There are so many different layers in this book, I feel as if I’ll discover a new story every time I read it. At first, I did feel as if the book was too slow and meandering. However, as I neared the end, everything began to coalesce and I understood why Hartman choose to write the book the way she did. It was absolutely brilliant. This book may have been fantasy but I’ve only read a few books that did such a brilliant job of exploring human emotions, both positive and negative. I would highly recommend picking up Tess of the Road if you’re looking to go on a journey, to understand what it means to travel The Road. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I finished this book last night and I felt my heart breaking and re-knitting itself all the way through. This is a book that captures so flawlessly what it is like to grow up, and all the messy wonderful aching beauty of the process, and it took my breath away. "Tess of the Road" is a sequel, of sorts, to "Seraphina" and "Shadow Scale" but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone who hasn't read either. It is set in the same world as "Seraphina" and Seraphina herself makes several appearances, but the main character is Tess, Seraphina's younger half-sister. The structure of these reminds me of the way that Tamora Pierce has structured her Tortall series, with books featuring a different main character who comes into contact with old friends along the way. If you've read 'Song of the Lioness' and 'The Immortals' there's a similar dynamic at play here - the focus is on Tess, but familiar faces pop up with a decent amount of frequency. The book is beautifully written, well paced and well structured. It's half quest adventure and half coming-of-age: the overarching plot is not resolved when the book ends so I'm sure we'll be getting another novel featuring the further growth and adventures of Tess. The quest adventure plot was very entertaining, with just enough mysticism to keep it fantastic and enough horror and tragedy to keep it grounded. It was the emotional journey of the character that really got me though. Tess has had a rough time of it, and even though some of the trouble is of her own making Ms. Hartman does a wonderful job of building a character who is flawed but sympathetic. And the best part? Tess is growing up along the way. The character is far from static. She learns from her mistakes and her triumphs, and honestly grows up during the course of the book which is not always the case in coming of age stories. Tess makes terrible errors and excellent choices because that's what growing up is all about. I ached for her and cheered for her. I can't wait to meet her again. Ms. Hartman has demonstrated once more that she's a wonderful writer and this book was worth the wait.
I recieved a copy of this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. "The Road took them from adventure to adventure; they met curious characters, left them behind, and found them again." The pace of the book is slow overall, it took me a long time to finish. Typically, it takes me two to three days to finish a book of this size. I understand the pace was necessary for the author to build upon the overall premise of this book, but it was hard to get through at times. I did enjoy the last part of the book infinitely more than the beginning. I found the lead character, Tess, to be sympathetic but frustrating. So frustrating at times that I lost some sympathy towards her. She does evolve as the story progresses and I actually ended up liking her at the end of the book. (Side note) If you got this book hoping there would be dragons, they are not a main part of the story line. The dragons that are mentioned, inhabit human form. Overall, a well written book but the pace was so slow which made it difficult to hold interest. I feel the next book in the series, will probably be a lot better because now the characters backstories are fully developed.
When I saw Tess of the Road on NetGalley, I was captured by the cover. But I wasn’t going to request it. Then I read the blurb and went “Hmmm“. Dragons, a subspecies of dragons, half-dragons, and a great adventure. I thought “Why not, sounds like a good read“. Having read the book, I can say with absolute certainty that this book was a disappointment. It dragged while reading it. I couldn’t keep my head in the book. I was actually bored and came to DNFing. But I have a personal vow never to DNF a book, so I finished it. Tess of the Road did have a promising plotline. Girl strikes out on her own with her quigutl companion. She is determined to find dragons that were lost. She has many adventures along the way before resolving her quest. It was everything else that happened in the book that ruined it for me. What I was expecting was dragons, women empowerment, and adventures. I wasn’t expecting teen pregnancy, rape, and child abuse to be discussed. I felt awful for Tess. From the beginning of the book, she was abused by her mother. She did something wrong, she got beat with a wooden spoon or locked in a closet. Her mother was a very bitter, abusive religious nut. I was not expecting to read such vivid accounts of child abuse in a book like this. Her family puts the fun in dysfunctional. So I got it when Tess ran away. If I was put down, verbally and emotionally abuse as much as Tess was, I would have done the same thing. I wish that it was mentioned why she hated Tess so much. I did like that the journey helped Tess come to terms with her abusive past and the loss of her child. While she did act childishly for most of the first half of the book, I felt that her change came when talking about her son’s birth and death. It was after that I saw her mature and own up to her past. That was one of my favorite parts of this book. Seeing Tess grow from a selfish girl-child to a woman who was ready to take acceptance for her past and forge a new future. I thought Pathka and Kiku were fascinating. Their relationship was very complex. Pathka resented Kiku for being born. Kiku resented Pathka for being there for her. Kiku was disturbed and vowed to kill Pathka if she got the chance. The whole race of quigutl was interesting but the author didn’t spend much time on them. Other than to explain that Pathka and Kiku were able to dream separately from the others, which made them different. I do wish more was spent explaining the quigutl’s race and why they were living among humans. Or their connection to the World Dragons. Only the barest explanation was given. I could not connect to any of the characters. While I felt awful for Tess, there wasn’t any connection. As there wasn’t anything with Pathka and Kiku. My disconnection with the characters made the book tedious to read. The end of the book was very predictable. I did not like what they did to the World Dragon that Tess found. I could not wrap my mind around why the author chose that route. It baffled me. I would recommend an Adult rating for Tess of the Road. There are some very adult themes in this book that wouldn’t be right for a teenager. There are sexual situations, language, and violence. There are several scenes of verbal and physical abuse of a child. One flashback to the death of an infant. There is also a flashback to a rape scene that I didn’t see coming. These are triggers for some people and I would recommend that if they trigger you, don’t read it. This is not a bo
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! DNFing at 30% ”If Tess pretended she was married hard enough, could she fool herself into having a baby?” I can confidently say that I have given Rachel Hartman a second chance with reading this book, hoping for the best. I read Seraphina in 2017 and ended up DNFing it. Unfortunately, I’m finding myself in the same boat with Tess of the Road. While the writing is well-composed and encompassing, I just didn’t like the main character Tessie, or the way in which the plot was headed. Tessie Dombegh is the main character. At a young age, her curiosity got her into rough waters with her mother. Holding onto her past mistakes, she becomes rather spiteful towards others, making her a very unlikeable character to follow. ”I don’t envy you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” said Tess, not lying exactly. It wasn’t envy so much as self-pity. Did that make her “all right” or not? When her twin sister Jean is proposed to, Tess tries to hide her jealousy of her sister’s position. However, her true feelings bubbling beneath the surface pour out at her sister’s wedding, when out of her drunkenness, she starts a fight. From this point on, I simply lacked interest in the plot. With the main character being so unlikeable, I fail to see a reason to move on. Another point to mention is that there is a lot of focus on sex, in a very tactless way. ”Is it true what they say, that the saar are slow to warm up, but once they get going they burn hot as the sun?” Sorry, but I don’t think this is a necessary addition to a YA novel. If anything, this book reads more like an adult fantasy novel due to its content. This is where the book crossed a line for me. Tess’ obsession with the topic was just off-putting. Vulgarity: While there wasn’t a lot, (I counted six up until the point of stopping) the overall mannerisms of the characters were vulgar. Sexual content: There isn’t anything explicit, but this topic is constantly being discussed between characters. Violence: Minimal. Since this is a DNF read, I will not be assigning a star-review.
pooled ink Reviews: Hartman has at last continued the intricate world she had crafted in SERAPHINA by composing a duology on Seraphina’s half-sister, Tess. Seraphina pops up for a glimpse once in a while, as is expected considering her position in life and her connection to Tess, but this is not her story. In fact it was incredibly interesting to read about Seraphina from such a different point of view. TESS OF THE ROAD is a story about grief and feeling like we’ve messed up so bad and so often that there’s no going back, but more importantly it is a story about finding your way back and knowing that no matter how you may feel, you are not alone and there is always forwards even if the road is painful and long. Roiling with a surprising spectrum of vivid emotion this is a journey filled with sacrifice, heartbreak, loyalty, and disappointment. A path paved with courage, anger, healing, painful truths, and an unleashed ferocity for freedom. Overflowing with dragons, mystery, and adventure, but ignited by a girl long beaten and broken until only her hatred could bare to face the world locking all hope and softness deep within…until the day she left her prison to take a chance on the road and with each step her life forever changed. **Read the full review on Wordpress: Pooled Ink
So the beginning of this book is boring and long. It really should not have taken so long for us to start with Tess on the Road. Even when you start on the road with Tess it is hard to like her. By then of the book I have come to like Tess, understand her and admire what she did through the book. It really is amazing what Tess does for being only 16 years old and of course being back in the day and not modern time is even more interesting. You have to get past the first part of this book to get to the better parts. *Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this for my honest opinion*
A new perspective
This book left everything flat. Weak story line, weak adventure, weak all round plot. Could have taken place in the 1800's, 1950's or 2050. Please do not write another!