Tess of the Road || A Book Review

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.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.


  • This book is ridiculously amazing.
  • It’s not for everyone, though. It’s really slow, and there isn’t much of a plot. It’s mostly just a character arc. But it’s a heck of a character arc.
  • For what little plot there was, I was confused for much of it.
  • THE CHARACTERS. Tess is an amazing character. She’s so developed and she seems like a real person. She has faults (many of them) and dreams and shames and other person-y things. She feels real, and I love seeing how she changes over the course of her journey.
  • The cover is a bit misleading. There aren’t really any dragons the way the cover implies. There’s a large, four-armed lizard and a really big snake, to say the least, but the dragons are in human form. It is fantasy, but it reads almost like historical fiction.
  • I love that the heavier topics were thoroughly discussed.
  • The book is really slow, but it’s compelling. You want to keep flipping the pages and keep reading and reading and reading (Warning: homework will suffer).
  • This takes place in the same world as Seraphina, but it’s necessary to read it beforehand. However, it is nice to read it first so you get a grasp on the world. There are also a lot of character cameos and references to Seraphina.
  • The writing, like in Seraphina, is gorgeous. I really love it.

4 thoughts on “Tess of the Road || A Book Review

    1. Yes! I love character driven stories. I will probably love a story heavy in character that lacks plot, but I’d probably despise one with an amazing plot and terrible characters. Characters are the ones you fall in love with, and they’re truly the ones that make a story shine.
      Rachel Hartman is an amazing author. Seraphina and Shadow Scale are beautiful books, as well.
      I think there are a lot of DNFs for Tess of the Woods, since the story is slow to start, but the ones who finish it love it. It has a narrow readership, but those who read it love it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is annoying when we, as readers, aren’t given the opportunity to actually connect t the characters, I don’t think characters can be terrible… but they can be terribly written which is why even villains can be interesting. I’ll bear that in mind with Tess of the Woods!

        Liked by 1 person

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