Aug 03 2015

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Book Review)


Rating: ★★★

Review: This is only the second Dragon book I’ve ever read. The first I never actually finished (having only read about half-way through it) was Eragon by Christopher Paolini. My reasoning for not finishing the book had nothing to do with the writing style, but more to do with the weight of the book! But I’ll save my thoughts on that for when I finish and review the Eragon series…

As for Seraphina, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. You might be surprised to hear me say this, but I don’t usually read fantasy or science fiction novels. However, this book has me changing my mind on that, slightly…

I wasn’t even turned off by the love interest that so obviously was going to take place between the main two characters like I usually am. It didn’t feel forced in this instance and it came off as very genuine and believable. Also, I think the story structure and character building made a huge difference in my not rolling my eyes at the moment when both revealed their love for each other. I think Seraphina and Kiggs being both so different yet so similar in their upbringing was so well played and expressed! I was tempted to start reading the second book immediately upon finishing this one! The other characters in this book are all very individual and likeable as well. From Orma, the mentor, teacher and uncle of Seraphina to Glisselda, the Princess, cousin, student, and even BFF of hers as well. Honestly, I think I was most surprised by Glisselda and would pick her to be my favorite character so far. I half expected her to take on the stereotypical role of the conceited and air-headed princess who was all about glam but she is actually the total opposite. She is very smart and equally as caring of others. I could understand why even though the two main characters have strong feelings for each other they have chosen to suppress them (as much as they can) in order not to hurt Glisselda, whom they both care about very deeply.

I also liked that this isn’t JUST a book about dragons. Yes, they play a significant role in the book since it is mostly about the peace being kept between human-kind and dragon-kind, but there is also betrayal, deceit, and friendship, all leading up to an impending war, which is where the book ultimately ends. See, the dragons are able to transform into the form of a human to better interact with them and not scare humans with their massive size. Once in human form they then must wear a bell on their person to let the humans know who they are. They bleed silver blood and have a distinct odor that only other dragons can sniff out.

The mystery and secret that Seraphina carries is that her father (a human) fell in love with a dragon (her mother), but to his credit, he was not aware she was a dragon when he fell in love with her, married her, and had a child (Seraphina) with her, until that time. Seraphina’s father is very important to the community. He’s like the keeper of the treaty of peace between the dragons and humans, very knowledgeable of the laws of both sides, and well respected, by the humans anyway. Seraphina is born part dragon. This means she has very visible scales on her skin that she keeps covered at all times. Her father wants her to stay sheltered and not bring attention to herself but that backfires because she has a musical talent that doesn’t stay hidden for long, putting her in the public eye in a very big way.

All this leads up to a very involved story that I won’t go into too much detail on. One last thing though on the writing. Rachel Hartman is great with descriptions! The scene where the dragons are allowed to turn back into their dragon-forms and parade through the town as a way to show them the humans won’t attack them or are fearful or them, also so the humans can get used to what dragons look like and see that there’s nothing to fear from them, was majestic. I could easily picture the scene in my head and was mesmerized. So go read it for yourself! You won’t be disappointed, I promise!

Synopsis: Lyrical, imaginative, and wholly original, this New York Times bestseller with 8 starred reviews is not to be missed.  Rachel Hartman’s award-winning debut will have you looking at dragons as you’ve never imagined them before…
In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

by Rachel Hartman

512 pages
Random House | July 2012
Fantasy / Medieval / Young Adult
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