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Young Adult Fiction General

Tess of the Road

by (author) Rachel Hartman

Tundra Book Group
Initial publish date
Jan 2022
General, Medieval, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 7 to 12


From award-winning Rachel Hartman, Tess of the Road is a tour de force and an exquisite feminist fantasy.

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.

About the author


  • Winner, Cybil Award for Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Short-listed, Sunburst Award For Excellence In Canadian Literature Of The Fantastic
  • Long-listed, Sunburst Award For Excellence In Canadian Literature Of The Fantastic

Contributor Notes

As a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of Seraphina. Rachel earned a degree in comparative literature but eschewed graduate school in favor of bookselling and drawing comics. Born in Kentucky, she has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada. To learn more, please visit

Editorial Reviews

One of Booklist's Editor's Choice Books for Youth 2018
One of Boston Globe's Best Children Books of 2018
One of NPR's Best of 2018
One of Globe and Mail's 100 Notable Books of 2018
PRAISE FOR Tess of the Road:

"Absolutely essential." --Starred Review, Booklist

"Like Tess' journey, surprising, rewarding, and enlightening, both a fantasy adventure and a meta discourse on consent, shame, and female empowerment." --Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

"Newcomers to Hartman's work will be every bit as enthralled as her fans with this companion novel to Seraphina and Shadow Scale." --Starred Review, Bulletin

"Tess's ultimately unquenchable spirit, her struggles and adventures--be they at home or on the road--are a delight." --Starred Review, Shelf Awareness
"[S]o awe-inspiring, smart and relatable that it seems to physically pulse." --Globe and Mail
"[An] engaging companion volume to the award-winning Seraphina and Shadow Scale. . . . A picaresque road trip in a quasi-medieval, magical world, this is also a lose-yourself-in-it novel of adolescent healing and empowerment, a promise that youthful ignorance and its errors are remediable. Hartman conveys a warm sense of solidarity for girls who must fight off misogyny, sorrow and the burden of their own mistakes." --Toronto Star
"There's much richness in this tale's nuanced, accessible expression of adolescent naiveté and sorrow, and in Hartman's magical imagery and practical themes." --The Horn Book Magazine

"Tess of the Road is astonishing and perfect. It's the most compassionate book I've read since Middlemarch, and I love it, and Tess, fully as much as its predecessors. . . . Every step Tess takes on her road is a needle pricking the clenched parts of her heart into relief; as I read I felt those needles in my own heart, embroidering it with awe." --Hugo Award-winning author Amal El-Mohtar
"This book [is] . . . pointed and poignant, sharp and true, and the kind of book I know I’ll go back to again and again.”

"A richly detailed fantasy” --Boston Globe

“This novel is action packed, yet also richly layered.” --CYBILS

Other titles by Rachel Hartman