Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

This was a book I'd seen some advance praise for not too long before it was published. I'd read a couple of books about dragons already so I had a pretty good idea that I would like this one. I had plans on picking it up at the bookstore but one of my local libraries got it in before I had the chance to so I checked it out. This book was so much more than I had imagined--different from any of the other dragon books I'd read and written beautifully. Here's the summary:

Seraphina is an unusually talented musician living in the kingdom of Goredd. Four decades of peace have passed between the dragons and humans and for the most part, they all live in harmony. The dragons just want to be accepted but the humans can't help but fear that the dragons will one day up and decide to eradicate them. Dragons are the mathematicians--the rational scholars and teachers and ambassadors in Goredd. They fold themselves into human shape and rarely revert to their natural dragon forms. When one of the members of the royal family is murdered, everyone believes a dragon is to blame. Seraphina is drawn into the action and paired with the Prince in an effort to solve the crime. And even though he's engaged, Seraphina and Prince Lucian find themselves falling for one another. In the process they uncover secrets that could destroy the kingdom. And all the while Seraphina does everything she can to protect her own secret--one so important that it could mean an end to everything she cares about.

**This is Rachel Hartman's debut YA novel and I couldn't have loved it more. She creates an epic fantasy unlike any other. Seraphina's world is completely different than our own but the medieval elements and easily lovable characters make it feel familiar. In some high fantasy novels it can be confusing to learn about the world the author has created but that's not the case in Seraphina. The questions you have don't frustrate you. You get the answers you need in subtle ways that make sense with the tone and pace of the story. At first I felt that Seraphina's secret was revealed too soon and not all that surprising but then I realized that her secret was only one small part of the story. Seraphina's need to be loved and accepted, the mystery of what was going on in Goredd, and the relationships and characters, were all so much more important.  All in all, I can't recommend this book enough. The sequel, Dracomachia, is due out early next year.