Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Tess of the Road

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House Books For Young Readers
Release Date: February 27th, 2018
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 2/1/18 to 2/6/18
544 pages

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 received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I have pretty mixed feelings about this book, mainly stemming from the fact that I've forgotten everything from Seraphina and Shadow Scale (whoops). Nevertheless, Tess of the Road grew on me. ALSO, THE COVER IS STUNNING.

Tess of the Road follows Tess as she disguises herself as a man in order to escape her very stressful household, one where she is expected to act like a lady and NOT do whatever she wants. Along the way, she teams up with her childhood best friend, Pasha, and embarks on a quest: To find the World Serpents.

As mentioned earlier, my biggest problem with this novel is that I remember literally NOTHING from Seraphina and Shadow Scale. Though Tess of the Road is listed as a new series, it's kind of more like a companion novel? And if you haven't read the previous two books, be prepared to be spoiled.

But once Tess left her family, the story got infinitely better. We got to focus on her as an individual rather than a connection back to Seraphina. In addition, there were some scenes that were very awe-inspiring, and found me wishing I could be on this journey like Tess was. AND SHE MADE SOME PRETTY GREAT FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES. Tess changed so much over the course of the novel, from disliking Seraphina to finally escaping her family and discovering herself.

Lastly, I'm going to go over what's different from this book and Seraphina, and also whether you should read this or not.

  • Less focus on politics, more on myths
  • We get to know more about the quigutl, a subspecies of dragon that throughout their lifetime switch genders, rather than the saar.
  • Tess' experience crossdressing as a man, which comes with the exploration of gender roles and sexual assault.

I have this list above but I almost remember nothing from Seraphina so like I think these are things that are different? Ha.

  • If you've read Seraphina and Shadow Scale, do you remember them? If so, then yes you should read this. Fair warning, reading Tess made me want to reread Seraphina more.
  • If you haven't read either of those two books, that's okay too! You don't need to know the characters from the previous duology to enjoy this!
  • If you've read Seraphina and/or Shadow Scale but do not remember them, I would recommend against reading Tess. Reason being that there is some character overlap, and I think I would have enjoyed this book far more if I remembered what happened previously.

Overall, I'm really glad I read this, and I'm actually kind of looking forward to the sequel (which I think there is one?). It would have been better if I actually remember what happened in Seraphina and Shadow Scale, or if there was some sort of refresher at the beginning of the novel, but oh well.

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