Hey guys! So I just got off an 8 hour flight and I’m writing this in an airport while waiting for my connection. Now, you may think that sounds terrible, but the 8 hour flight felt like nothing because of this awesome book I read!
Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman, is a piece of fantasy literature unlike any that I’ve read in a long time. It felt like a combination of Eragon and The Hobbit with badass female heroines and a healthy dose of feminism thrown in. Also dragons. Now, I used those titles as comparison to try and explain the awesomeness of this book to you guys, but this book was also so completely original that I don’t think it can really really be compared to any other.
This novel follows Tess, a headstrong, adventurous, and intelligent young woman. She’s born to a deeply religious mother, and from a young age she is the “trouble twin”, the devil to Jeanne’s angel. When she gets into some trouble at age 14 she must relinquish her position as “eldest” daughter, instead resigning herself to being Jeanne’s handmaiden until Jeanne is wed and then joining a convent. Tess pledges to do this dutifully, to make up for her past sins, but when adventure comes knocking she can’t resist.
I. Love. Tess. She is SUCH a kickass heroine, I can’t even tell you. She has spunk, she has pizazz, and most of all she has got some serious brains. Fantasy is my one true love, but as most of you know, fantasy has an unfortunate lack of strong female characters. It’s been that way forever, all the way back to Tolkien (I love the guy, but women weren’t really his forte). It’s gotten a bit better in recent times, but unfortunately many of the women in fantasy are, in the words of my best friend, “vapid, boy-obsessed ninnies”. I promise you, there is not a ninny to be found in this novel.
This story had the good, old-fashioned, traveling story feel that I love. You know, the stories where a character sets off into the unknown, ready for whatever comes their way. Those are my favorites, and this one did not disappoint. The people that Tess encountered on her journey were fleshed out beautifully, all of them adding a level of complexity or poignancy to the story. Tess grew and learned throughout the story, and we got to see some very well-done character growth. No static characters here.
Finally, I really loved the friendships Tess had. Tess had a few different important friendships, and each changed her in a different way. So often in stories, we see over-simplified or one-dimensional friendships, but in this story we got beautifully developed, complicated, and realistic relationships.
Overall, I thought this was a beautifully-written coming of age story. In this novel it felt like the characters drove the fantasy, not the other way around. We had moments of hilarity, or pain, and everything in between. This gorgeous novel gave us a look at what it means to be a girl, a woman, a friend, and an adventurer. If you’re interested you can get it here Tess of the Road
Thanks for reading my review, and until next time, happy reading 🙂