Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 27th, 2018
Edition: Kindle Edition, 544 pages
Purchase/Pre-Order: Amazon US | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iBooks | BAM
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.
So, I really wanted to love this book, but it was just alright. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the Seraphina series that this is kind of a sequel/standalone spin-off of. But since I haven't read that duology, I just felt a little disconnected to the world, and this book seems to rely on the reader having already read the series. (Say that 10 times fast). Also, I'm not the biggest fan of "girl dresses like a boy" trope, but in this case, it worked and made sense.
That being said, I just didn't really feel like the MC was very likable anyway. She was dealt a shitty hand, that's for sure, but she didn't seem to try very hard to not make any more bad decisions. She didn't really try to use common sense. I guess it didn't help that her mother was very unforgiving and shamed Tess every chance she got for the mistake she made.
The pacing of this book also didn't work for me. Things moved too slow, and by the time things started to pick up, I no longer cared about the journey ahead. I suppose it would help if I had any sympathy for Tess, but I didn't. She was just really unlikable and uninteresting as a character. I will commend the author for giving our MC the past she did, especially for YA, but Tess continues to make bad decisions. She lets her family make her feel shame when the blame for what happened doesn't fall solely on her. I also felt that Tess's twin,
There are some little nuances and worldbuilding that I feel like I missed because I'm not familiar with the Seraphina books. And honestly, that is a kind of a massive flaw in this book in my opinion. This book should be able to stand on its own without readers needing to read a different book that has a completely different MC.
I didn't much care for how the back and forth went with the storytelling, revealing what happened in her past and jumping forward. It was a little clunky at times and didn't really bring me to care anymore about the character.
All in all, this book was just boring when it had potential to be better than it was. Maybe I did miss some worldbuilding in Seraphina that could have helped me get into this world more, but at this point, I am very uninterested in reading those books.