Thursday, February 22, 2018

Book Review: Tess of the Road

Title: Tess of the Road
Author: Rachel Hartman
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Source: eARC
Format: Publisher

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 (goodreads).

Tess of the Road was beautifully written but wasn't strong enough to hold my attention. 
Plot: As a disclaimer, I did not realize that this was apart of the Seraphina series and I haven't read of Hartman's previous titles. I wonder if I would have liked Tess of the Road more if I had read the other books first, but it looks like the world will never know. 

I was instantly drawn into Tess of the Road because of Hartman's writing, it was clever and she even snuck some humor in. I've always found humor to be rare in epic fantasy novels so I respected how natural Hartman made it seem. At some point, I realized that this book wasn't really going anywhere and lost interest. Tess of the Road was very much an epic adventure: Tess encountered strangers who would help her grow and learn something about herself. Unfortunately, there was never any rising action, it didn't feel like Tess' journey was leading toward anything and there were only so many strangers Tess could meet on the road before I got bored and started skimming. 

Characters: From birth, Tess was told that she was born "bad" and would never amount to anything. Tess had a hard life and I couldn't help but root for her and be awed how she came to love herself and take her own needs into consideration. Tess of the Road was worth the read solely because of Tess' growth and the comments on sexism that Hartman made. 

Worldbuilding: I'm tempted to read the other books because Hartman's world was so impressive. She created various species and took time to explain languages and dialects to the reader. I love languages and grammar rules so I appreciated this extra step to solidifying the world. 

Short N Sweet: Tess of the Road was a solid fantasy that needed more action to keep my attention. 


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