Author: Rachel Hartman
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Summary: “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.” – Goodreads
Excuse me while I scream.
Seraphina is easily one of the best books I’ve read in a long, long while. The reasons for this are multitudinous. The writing, the world-building, the characters, etc.
First off, the writing. It is gorgeous. It strikes that perfect yet elusive balance between rich and clear, all without being overly flowery. This is probably some of the best writing I’ve ever seen, hands down.
One of the things that sets this fantasy novel apart from others, however, is the world the author built. The cultures and lore are intriguing, and not strictly based on Europe! Yay! Also, Hartman has a distinct way of approaching the topic of dragons. They’re not straightforward monsters to be conquered (well, depending on who you ask), but rather characters to be engaged with, each with a variety of motives and angles. Their culture and what makes them tick is just as engrossing too.
The characters were varied and believable. I could relate well to Seraphina, but aside from her I’d have to say my favorite character is Glisselda. She’s regal, kind, confident, and is armed with a sharp wit. The characters aren’t predictable or transparent, which lends to part of the charm of the book. You’re constantly guessing at people’s true loyalty, and usually I’m very good at guessing who the ultimate Bad Guy is. Not here! I was taken completely by surprise. Which I love.
The rhythm and pace were fine tuned to perfection. Even when things were (technically speaking_ slow moving, it didn’t feel slow moving. It felt more like the literary equivalent of gliding down a lazy river.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the romance. I saw no real reason for it, aside from the fact that (*SPOILER*) Kiggs was the first guy in Seraphina’s age range to really interact with her. (END SPOILER) The romance felt a bit forced; I feel like they make better friends than romantic partners. That being said, I do like that the romance isn’t there for drama’s sake. They decide to be honorable in how they intend to go about it.
All in all, Seraphina is one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. The characters, plot, pacing, etc . . . all of it is hands-down delightful. Highly recommended!