Author: Rachel Hartman
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Seraphina (Book 1)
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 467 Pages
ISBN-10: 0375866566 (Kids@Random)
ISBN-13: 978-0375866562 (Kids@Random)
Reviewed by: Michelle
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.
Quick & Dirty: A unique story filled with dragons in a world so detailed that it will leave you wanting more.
Opening Sentence: I remember being born.
When I first saw Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, I was instantly drawn to the cover. Most of you who have followed me and read my reviews know how much I love covers, and Seraphina’s cover? Gorgeous. It screams fantasy in every sense of the word. Dragons? Check. Historic and intricate architecture? Check. Awesome font and color schemes? Check and check. When I finally read the synopsis, it confirmed my feelings for the book. And after diving into the first page? I was instantly sold.
Seraphina takes place in a medieval setting, in the land of Fored, and following the life of Seraphina Dombegh, a girl born into a world where dragons and humans coexist. After years of war, there is now peace throughout the kingdoms, despite an unspoken distrust between the two races. A member of the royal family is murdered, and dragons are suspected to be behind the malice death. Seraphina finds herself drawn to the investigation, and helps the captain of the guard, Prince Lucian Kiggs. Secrets are revealed, uncovering sinister plots to destroy the peace between the races, and for Seraphina, a secret of her own threatens to destroy her life.
Seraphina is deeply invested to the dragon race. Seraphina is the daughter of an ambassador to the dragons, and lives at the courts as the new assistant to the court composer. She is tutored by Orma, a dragon scholar and a musician. Seraphina is emotional and wears those emotions on her sleeve. She is snappy and cranky, but loyal and very headstrong. And while Seraphina can be brave, I found some of her actions foolish. But I will say Seraphina is a well-rounded character, and once she discovers more of herself and the other secrets within the book, she blossoms into someone you will love.
Orma, Prince Lucian, and other supporting characters made this story. Orma is my favorite in this story. From the few lines in the prologue, he instantly won my heart. He is so calculated and precise, void of any emotions, but I found that his words moved mountains. His relationship to Seraphina was sweet, and his guidance came at times when she needed it most. Prince Lucian was the opposite of Orma. He was filled with emotion when he tried not to show them, and he was a companion for Seraphina. Lucian is witty and absolutely charming.
There were so many great supporting characters that added to the level of depth and dimension for Seraphina. It added to the great world that Hartman created. There was definite dimension and thrown in with the detailed background and setting, what more could you ask for? While Seraphina is a fantasy, I found myself believing everything, thinking this was a real world. The words used, the actions described, and the scenes detailed onto the page helped for a magnificent reading experience.
Seraphina is intelligently written, set in a medieval setting. While I mostly speak praise of this story, I felt that a few scenes were overworked and a few overlooked. There were a few things that I skimmed through, feeling that it didn’t necessarily need to be there. Overall, Hartman kept me engaged throughout the book allowing me to enjoy it from the first page to the last.
He stood up, his bare feet sinking into the lumpy straw mattress. He wore Porphyrian trousers and a knee-length tunic, a paedis charm on a cord around his neck, and small gold earrings. He waved his hands slowly through the air as if he were breaking cobwebs overhead. The straw tick didn’t have much spring to it, but he leaped as high as he could and touched the ceiling on the third try.
No one in my visions had ever been aware of my presence before. How could they be? I wasn’t really there. He could not have touched my face because there was no face for him to touch, but I felt myself trying to recoil from his searching hand.
He frowned and scratched his head carefully. His hair had been arranged into coiled knots all over his scalp, the part lines between sections forming tidy little hexagons. He sat again and stared hard at the ceiling, his brows drawn. If it had not been impossible, I’d have said he was looking right at me.
1. Seraphina (July 10, 2012)
2. Dracomachia (TBD)
FTC Advisory: Random House provided me with a copy of Seraphina. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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