Random House, 464 pages
ARC courtesy of Random Buzzers
"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."
When I first heard about Seraphina, I knew it was book that I had to get my hands on. Some of my favorite authors of all time were recommending the book: Christopher Paolini, Alison Goodman, and, even though I haven't read any of her books (Yet! I just know I'll love them. :D), Tamora Pierce. Needless to say, if you are a fan of any of these authors, you definitely want to read Seraphina. And may I also add in Kristin Cashore? I would say that this book reminded me a lot of her style as well, and every single one of her books have always ended up on my favorites list.
All in all, Seraphina is a fantastic read. I will certainly be keeping my eye out for a sequel (There IS going to be one, right?!). At the beginning of the book, I will admit that I was a bit bowled over with all the new terminology while trying to grasp the setting, character relationships, and the new concept of dragons. It can be a bit overwhelming, but after about fifty pages or so, you begin to understand a bit more of what is going on. With any fantasy novel comes this transition... if it is going to be a really good book, the world building is essential as it needs to convince you of the setting of the story, which Rachel Hartman accomplishes with ease. I believed the setting and thought it beautiful and intricate instead of simple and dull which is what sometimes happens with some lazy authors.
What I thought was so strange about this book was that I don't like love stories to be front and center in my fantasy novels. I like more of the action and political intrigue (Which I assure you there is plenty of!) to be the focus with maybe a small side love interest that is only mildly important to the plot. But Seraphina does both... action, political intrigue, and love all share equally important parts of the plot. Seraphina's personal love story is not the main one, but it is still important to her character development. It is really about dragons trying to cope with the human emotions while they are in human form; they don't understand love, guilt, empathy, or anything of the like, and they tend not to welcome these feelings. This is partly why tensions tend to be high between dragons and humans; they wish to distance themselves from human emotions.
Seraphina is a strong female character that I love to read about. She values her mind and independence, and I simply want to stand up and cheer whenever I find a young female character like that. And I love Kiggs as well as he tends to treat Seraphina and his cousin Princess Glisselda with respect and values their ideas, regardless of them being women. Simply put, the characters were a joy to interact with. They are smart, witty, funny, and lively, and I can't say that any of them in the book are expendable in the least. They are all important to the plot (while some obviously more than others), and the book wouldn't be the same without any of them.
Seraphina is a great start to what seems to be an epic storyline. I can't wait to read more about all of the characters' adventures! (Rachel Hartman, there better be another book!!! :D)
Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!