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Tess of the Road
Contributor(s): Hartman, Rachel
ISBN: 1101931280     ISBN-13: 9781101931288
Publisher: Random House Childrens Books
    OUR PRICE: $17.09  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: February 2018
Annotation: "Tess Dombegh journeys through the kingdom of Goredd in search of the World Serpents and finds herself along the way"--
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Courts and courtiers; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2016041764
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.50" H x 5.75" W x 1.50" (1.40 lbs) 536 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #2)
Hartman returns to her fantastical medievalesque world in this worthy companion to Seraphina (rev. 7/12) and Shadow Scale (rev. 3/15). Tess is Seraphina's human half-sister, and a twin. She is already considered a troublemaker when she has an affair with a scholarly cad, becomes pregnant, and cedes her rank as eldest to her younger, "purer" twin, Jeanne, in the hope that Jeanne can secure a favorable marriage and keep their struggling family afloat. Tess's baby does not survive; the cad runs off; and Tess's reputation threatens the marriage her sister is poised to make. In a fit of resentful self-pity, Tess disguises herself as a boy and takes to the road with a quigutl (half-dragon) friend. Their picaresque journey becomes a refashioning for Tess, as she frees herself from the misogynistic teachings of her upbringing and the burden of her mistakes. There's much richness in this tale's nuanced, accessible expression of adolescent naiveté and sorrow, and in Hartman's magical imagery and practical themes. She offers up sturdy, compassionate wisdom along with intelligent invention—and the promise of more to come in a sequel. deirdre baker Copyright 2018 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2018 January)

Gr 9 Up—Set in the same world as Seraphina and Shadow Scales, Hartman's new book is full of dragons, "quigults," and quests. Tess, Seraphina's younger half sister, is a curious girl. From trying to learn how babies are made to sneaking out of the house to attend scientific lectures, she is constantly straining against the boundaries of a very strict patriarchal society. After getting "in trouble" at a young age, she devotes her life to ensuring that her twin sister will make a favorable marriage, thus securing their family's fortunes. Using alcohol to dull her pain eventually causes things to unravel and Tess runs away from the volatile family drama. Out on the road, Tess makes discoveries both personal and scientific that lead her to find peace within herself and a place in the larger world. The author skillfully weaves Tess's current adventures and her backstory, slowly revealing the rape, pregnancy, and subsequent death of her child—which led to her current pain and bitterness, while simultaneously describing her evolution into a strong female protagonist. Hartman tackles complex issues such as gender identity, rape culture, and a sex-positive outlook without including graphic sex scenes. Unfortunately, there are so many lessons to be learned, and they are so pervasive, this book reads more like an updated version of an allegorical fairy tale than like an epic fantasy adventure. The slow pacing will deter many of the genre's fans. VERDICT Additional purchase for larger libraries where character-driven fantasies are in demand or where the author is popular.—Sunnie Scarpa, Wallingford Public Library, CT

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.