I was so excited when I was offered a galley of Hartman's new novel set in the fantasy realm of Goredd first introduced in Seraphina. Here we meet Seraphina's half-sister Tess. Tess chafes at the role she's had to take on in her family and the restrictions placed on her as a female. She's bitter and angry and yes, she drinks too much to dull her frustrations. But she's chugging along with the goal of getting her sister settled in a good marriage. Disaster strikes at her sister's wedding (totally Tess's fault) and she's told that she will be committed to a nunnery as a result of her bad behavior. So she does what any right-thinking heroine would do, she hits the road and finds that the journey changes her in ways expected and not.
I loved this one. But I've found that my feeling is not universal - if the reviews on Goodreads are anything to go by. They are decidedly mixed. Pay no attention to them. Listen to me. I'm telling you right now that all the nay-sayers (and it's about 50-50) are totally wrong and I'm totally right. The trigger for some readers is Tess herself. She's not very likeable as the book begins and I'll admit, I frequently wished I could tell her to "snap out of it" to quote Cher. But she's an incredibly real young woman. Her feelings about her place in her family, the roles she and her sisters all play, and her discovery that all is not as she imagined are spot on. And along the way she has some adventures, makes some friends, and perhaps saves the world. It's all here.