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Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

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.

I never get tired of dragons, so I knew from the moment I read the description I wouldn't want to miss Rachel Hartman's Seraphina. I wouldn't necessarily call it a trend, but there have been a few successful YA titles dealing with humans that can shift into dragons, though I wouldn't group this particular novel in with those. While Seraphina is comparable to books like Firelight and The Sweetest Dark, Hartman's novel is most definitely fantasy, while the others are more paranormal romance.

While it might not seem like it'd make a huge difference, Seraphina features dragons shifting into humans. Which means that, at their core, these shifters are dragon, not human. And in this particular novel, dragons are very different than humans... in fact, they often have trouble blending in even when in human form. I found this element of the novel extremely interesting, especially since I wasn't expect that small detail to have such a large impact.

Unlike other popular books about dragon shapeshifters, Seraphina has political elements, which, in my mind, pushes it more towards the fantasy genre. These elements aren't overwhelming, but they're integral to the story in that they impact the attitude of the characters. 

Still, like the other novels mentioned, Seraphina does feature a romantic plot line as well... a good one I might add. It's complicated and difficult, but oh so worth it. Seraphina doesn't think much of herself, but her love interest truly sees her, even though she's hiding a rather big secret about herself.

I can't wait to read more about Seraphina, Kiggs, and the rest of the characters from Seraphina. This entire first installment was action packed, but, if the ending of this book was any indication, the next book is going to be intense. I think I've found a new set of favorite fantasy books to add to my recommendation list! 

Random House Children's Books, July 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780375866562, 467 pages.

Check out the book trailer for Seraphina below:


  1. I'm starting to LOVE fantasy books and dragons, so this sunds perfect to me. And I'm even more excited to read it because of your great review! Glad you liked it! ^__^

  2. I love dragons! I've seen this one around but haven't paid that much attention to it until now. I like how this one, unlike others, has political element and that it's more of a fantasy not paranormal romance. I'm definitely going to have to check this one out now!

  3. I'm so excited to read this one! It's sitting on my shelf now. Hopefully I can get to it soon.

  4. I can't WAIT to get my hands on this one! Haven't read about Dragon shape-shifters yet, but this one sounds fabulous :) Great review and I'm a new follower!

    Confessions of a Readaholic

  5. Meep. I'm not a huge fan of books with political elements in it. Well, actually... that kind of depends... :/

    ANYHOW, this one sounds great! I love books dealing with dragons, and you seemed to really enjoy it.

    Thanks for the review!

    Skyway Avenue Reads


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