Wednesday, January 26, 2022

ARC Review: In the Serpent's Wake by Rachel Hartman

In the Serpent's Wake

Rachel Hartman
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (February 1, 2022)

Description: From the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of Seraphina comes a piercing new fantasy adventure that champions our resilience and humility.


At the bottom of the world lies a Serpent, the last of its kind.

Finding the Serpent will change lives.

Tess is a girl on a mission to save a friend.

Spira is a dragon seeking a new identity.

Marga is a woman staking her claim on a man’s world.

Jacomo is a priest searching for his soul.

There are those who would give their lives to keep it hidden.
And those who would destroy it.

But the only people who will truly find the Serpent are those who have awakened to the world around them—with eyes open to the wondrous, the terrible, and the just.

My Thoughts: This book is sort of a sequel to TESS OF THE ROAD in that one its stars is Tess Dombegh who is on a journey to save a friend. She's traveling with her brother-in-law Jacomo who was studying to be a priest but left before he took his vows.

Tess and Jacomo have joined the expedition to the pole started by Margarethe, Countess Mardou, who is a naturalist. She's taken Tess as a mentee and Jacomo as her spiritual adviser. Tess joined this expedition both as a spy for her queen and in order to bring her friend quigutl Pathka to the hidden serpent at the end of the world in the hopes of healing it. 

The Countess's expedition is in a race with a dragon expedition led by Spira, a dragon Tess wronged in the past and with whom Tess would like to make amends. Spira is also a character in search of more than the serpent.

Along the way, Tess sees all sorts of injustices that she would like to be able to right and finds herself in the middle of a war as natives of the lands she visits try to overthrow their invading overlords. Tess very reluctantly reconnects with the man who raped her and left her pregnant when she was fourteen. He's now engaged to the Countess until his death at the hands/flippers of creatures who aren't supposed to exist. 

The story is told from multiple viewpoints and is framed in a larger story told by the Mind of the World. I enjoyed this story. It was a successful coming of age story for a lot of the characters. I think I would have appreciated it even more if I had read TESS OF THE ROAD more recently, but the prologue in verse did sort of summarize the first book. I loved the idea that stories are personalized to those who tell them and that stories told can lead to unintended consequences. 

Favorite Quote:
Tess pursed her lips, smarting as if she'd been swatted. It must be nice to be a countess, seeing only the clear, pure essence you want to see, and never the messy, complicated slob in front of you.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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