Tess of the Road

Author: Rachel Hartman

Genre: Fantasy Fiction, YA (not really since Tess goes through a lot of adult hardships)

Format: Paperback

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐*(3.75*)



The story follows Tess Dombegh as she journeys through the Road of self discovery and acknowledge a past so painful and tragic that it ultimately becomes her stepping stone to transform into a stronger person.


I must admit I enjoyed Rachel’s first book ‘Seraphina’ but after a while I felt that it wasn’t a very memorable read. I couldn’t bring myself to read ‘Shadowscale’ when it got released. ‘Tess of the Road’ is considered as an accompaniment to the previous books. Tess, the younger sister of Seraphina is this book’s main character. She is an older twin sister and was first in line to be courted for marriage. Until everything goes to hell for her. 


One can’t help but feel sympathetic towards Tess as she grew up with a mother who criticised her every move especially her curiosity towards marriage and men. She forewarned Tess by quoting scriptures that damned every action of enjoyment of sexuality claiming that it was a duty for women while an inevitable lustful desire for men. Circumstances led Tess to fear being impure but she eventually fell in love. 


The story to me, was an homage to daughter-mother relationships and how toxicity can make or break a child. If Tess grew up in a loving home where love and values trumped tradition, she wouldn’t have had to escape and seek solace elsewhere. She wouldn’t have gotten herself mixed up with the wrong crowd but as reality stands, reflecting on one’s mishaps doesn’t solve years of pain unless it is channeled in a healthy way and we let go until it becomes ‘nothing’.


Rachel’s writing was great but my only complaint was the number of detours that Tess went through, kind of diluted the point of the story. All in all, it’s a good tale about healing and finding your true self. 


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