"She still held sorrows, but she was not made of them. Her life was not a tragedy.

"It was history, and it was hers."

Oh, I love the writing of Rachel Hartman and the world of Seraphina. This one is more personal than the two previous, and might just be my favorite.

The first entry in the Cast of Characters at the end of the book: "Tess Dombegh--the one most likely to get spanked."

Life can be hard. Tess has always found ways to make it even harder. And she has accepted that her life will be one of suffering, anger, and resentment. Then, at seventeen, she reaches a breaking point and decides (with the gentlest of nudges) to run away. And so she finds herself walking. As long as she doesn't stop moving, there's a chance she won't give in to despair. So she walks.

Of course, that is only the barest hint of Tess's story, for the road brings challenges and adventures. And the road brings opportunities to think, and process, and learn, and grow, and to begin to see everything she's know from new perspectives. Tess is less alone than she realizes. She discovers companionship; sometimes she creates companionship. She learns to hide and steal and flee; she learns to work and earn and share and give. She chases the legends of dragons. She discovers. She learns to stop running from her anguish. She learns to love.

This is exquisite storytelling.

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