In the Serpent's Wake: Tess of the Road, Book 2
By Michael Berry,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Teen deals with trauma on exciting, magical sea voyage.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
In the Serpent's Wake offers the chance to discuss colonialism, xenophobia, and mysogyny.
People can change for the better. Forgiveness is possible, though not guarateed.
Positive Role Models
Although heartbroken and unsure of herself, Tess is brave and conscientious about the promises she makes. She's still traumatized from having been raped by a lover, but she eventually finds way to deal with her feelings around him. Luckily, she has a supportive friends in ex-priest Jacamo and the mini-dragon Pathka.
The main characters mostly read as White, while the Islanders have darker, gray-green skin.
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Violence & Scariness
Naval battles with cannon shot and underwater fire. Sword fights. A major character is eaten by a sea creature. Tess is still traumatized by having been raped at age 14, which occurred in Book 1.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild displays of affection by a couple about to be married. Frank talk about menstruation.
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Mild and infrequent: "damn," "hell," "bastard." and "bitch."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that In the Serpent's Wake, by Rachel Hartman (Seraphina) is the concluding half of a fantasy series begun in Tess of the Road. This book chronicles 18-year-old Tess Dombegh's quest to do penance for helping kill a magical sea serpent. There's some violence -- naval battles, sword fights, and one character being eaten by a sea creature. A sexual assault happened in the first book, and its repercussions are felt in the second. There's minor, infrequent swearing ("damn," "hell," "bitch," "bastard").
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
As IN THE SERPENT'S WAKE opens, Tess signs up for an ocean voyage to the south pole, hoping to find the legendary Polar Serpent who supposedly lives there. The passengers include a priest who once hated her, a countess on her way to heartbreak, and a ruthless abuser praised by nearly everyone. Expeditions with conflicting agendas join the hunt, and it isn't long before someone loses their life.
Is It Any Good?
The world-building remains impressive, the humor sharp, and the action well-paced in this in this dragon-studded fantasy. In the Serpent's Wake also dives deep into main character Tess' psyche. Author Rachel Hartman concocts a comedy of manners that's actually deadly serious in its anticolonial politics. The characters are diverse, vivid, and unpredictable. Predicaments set up in the first book pay off in the concluding volume. The final chapters offer revelation and resolution. Tess' tale may be over for now, but it will leave fans wanting more.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how In the Serpent's Wake presents issues of gender and identity. Is it possible to imagine a society that involves a more fluid definition of gender?
Tess was sexually assaulted at age 14. How does she deal with the memories of the incident?
Why are fantasies with dragons so popular? What do we love about them?
- Author: Rachel Hartman
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, Ocean Creatures, Pirates
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: February 1, 2022
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 512
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 16, 2022
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Read
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