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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.
I don’t always read reviews before going into a book, and in this case I’m glad I didn’t read a good chunk of them, because I loved this book.
Tess of the Road is a very character driven book, and is not your typical fast-paced fantasy. It’s slow, and is centered around Tess, her relationships, and her journey– both of the road and of self discovery. So this won’t be for everyone. This is very much a book about a girl working through her pain, trauma and self-hatred. Tess is rebellious, selfish and stubborn…and I absolutely loved her, and I enjoyed her character arc. She’s a troublemaker who always disappoints her mother, while her twin sister seems to be the epitome of goodness.
I don’t always love the “girl dresses as boy” trope, but it worked well for me in this novel. This was well written, the prose was beautiful and the characters had depth. I also really liked the lore of the dragons, the world serpents, and the quigutl culture.
This won’t be a fantasy for everyone, but I personally enjoyed it and look forward to the next.