Book Review – Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
The newest book from the author of the popular Seraphina series follows one of Seraphina’s half sisters Tess. Tess has always been the troublemaker of her family, but when Tess crosses the line at her twin sister’s wedding her family decides it’s best to send her off to a nunnery. Having no desire to go Tess runs away from home, starts dressing as a boy, and finds that maybe she can move on from her painful past and that no one is simply born bad.
I read Seraphina a few years ago and enjoyed it (I gave it a 3/5) so I was excited for the chance to read Tess of the Road before it comes out. I was really confused during the beginning of the story. Even though I have read Seraphina I didn’t remember all the details of the characters and culture of the places. This story jumped right in like you should know all that. For someone who hasn’t read Seraphina (or doesn’t remember it well) the story is very hard to follow in the beginning.
I felt so bad for Tess during the first half of the story, her parents were both awful in their own ways and it seemed like no one really cared if she was around other than her twin. I loved that she was determined to set out on her own but the majority of the book is Tess traveling on the road (hence the name of the book) and it really dragged in places. I felt like it took me forever to get back to an exciting plot that I wanted to read.
Tess’s friend Pathka the Quigutl is by far my favorite character. He was unique, dynamic, and experienced so much throughout the story. I also loved the mother and son duo who show up in the last third of the book, the nun who surprisingly shows up a few times, and D traveling woman who Tess meet while on a road crew. They all really provided perspectives Tess was missing and helped her to grow as a person.
While the book started slow and confusing the ending was engaging. I loved that Tess finally stood up to her family and we get a little more insight into her twin, who is battling her own problems. I’m interested in seeing where the next book goes and what happens to Tess and her band of misfits.
Just a warning, this book does contain more adult themes (sex, rape, etc) so while it’s billed as a YA this book may not be appropriate for all.
Rating: 3 / 5 – The story dragged in places and I was troubled by some of what was happening (I don’t want to say exactly what and give away a big plot point!) but I enjoyed watching as Tess learned it was okay to be herself. The ending sets up the possibility of an enchanting journey with a unique group of friends that I may want to read.
Thank you to the following for permitting me access to an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Tess of the Road. This generosity did not impact my honesty when rating/reviewing.
Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Pub Date: 27 February 2018