Tess of the road by Rachel Hartman

cover image

Tess of the road book 1, Southlands book 3. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018. ISBN: 9781101931288.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Hugo Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Book (Lodestar Award) (2019). In this highly readable coming of age story, Tess is a troublemaker. After trying to be good for the sake of her twin sister Jeanne who is getting married, she once again finds herself in disgrace, after punching a relative's nose. Being told that she must go to a nunnery, she decides to run away and takes to the road where she meets once again an old friend, a quigutl. Together they travel across the land, both carrying the past with them.
Set in the same world as Seraphina, 2012, and Shadow scale, 2015, fans of this series will welcome another stand-alone story that features dragons and a girl who won't bow to pressure to be good and behave as a docile young woman. The reader is gradually exposed to Tess's backstory and the reason why she is shunned by her mother. It is a heart breaking one that will remain in thoughts for quite a time after finishing the book as the reader thinks about the way girls are treated and how they are blamed for mistakes made, while young men are able to act irresponsibly and thoughtlessly. However Tess is resilient and compassionate, intelligent and strong, and she makes the most of the lessons that she learns on the road in her quest to find the origins of the quigutl.
Tess of the road has an original and unique fantasy setting, with relatable characters and themes of resilience and empowerment and well deserves its Hugo nomination. I look forward to the next book about Tess's life.
Pat Pledger