Review of The Spirit Tree (Tess Lamar #1), by Kathryn M. Hearst

I received an Audible credit for a copy of Katheryn M. Hearst‘s The Spirit Tree through AudioBookBook.

Description from Goodreads:
Tessa, a southern girl with a crazy family and a brand new college degree, wants nothing more than for her life to start. When her uncle dies unexpectedly, she inherits more than his old truck. Lifetimes of family secrets unravel and nothing will ever be the same. After learning that she is not only a Fire Bird, but also half Nunnehi—the Cherokee equivalent to a fairy—Tessa is forced to fight for her life. Good thing she was raised by two tough southern ladies.

Review:
Pretty good. I liked the characters, Bryson was especially wonderful and I liked that Tessa had a backbone. The writing was smooth, as was Holly Adams‘ narration. Mostly I liked the book, but I had a few gripes.

I’m not down with the pointless love triangle. There was no need for it, but more importantly, it meant I never really felt the actual romance in the story. Sure, Tessa chose one man over another and we’re told why, but the whole thing was just too diluted by there being two men.

Similarly, the secondary mystery (or maybe primary, it did come first) was solved too easily and then just disappeared from the plot in favor of another one. So there too, having two mysteries meant neither was strong enough on its own. Plus, it made the book feel awful long.

There were also a few TSTL moments in which Tessa threw herself into danger and had to be rescued. I got tired of her apologizing to Bryson for endangering herself.

Lastly, I’m a bit iffy with the use of Native American mythology in the plot. I’m not screaming appropriation or anything, but there were several occasions where I kind of had to side-eye the book.

On a broader, genre level, I have to ask why young women in such books are never raised to know their own heritage, such that some man (or men) have to step in and teach them amidst a crisis. This is practically a constant in fantasy and I’m ALWAYS confused by parents/guardians who raise their wards without teaching them the basics of their powers. I mean, if you’re a shifter or have magic, shouldn’t learning about them be as expected as, say, teaching a young girl about the period she’ll have one day? Why do they NEVER do this? Why?

Despite my few complaints, the book is worth a read and I’ll be happy to read more of Hearst’s writing, but it wasn’t perfect.

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