Monday, May 20, 2013

Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman: review

Goodreads rating: 4.10
ARC ebook, 482 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Random House for Young Readers
Series: Seraphina #1
Source: for review from publisher
Genre: YA Fantasy

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.

This is going to be a short review, mostly because, even after all this time, I'm still not sure what to say about it. I have to admit that the world-building is phenomenal. And dragons! The YA world needs more dragons. The fact that these dragons were human but could turn into dragons reminded me of the draki series from Sophie Jordan. But that was quickly thrown out the window because not only does this take place in a fantasy world, the humans actually know about the dragons. And they really don't like each other. There's been "peace" in this world, but just barely. The dragons don't want to be under the thumb of the humans anymore (and they could totally take out the humans if they wanted to), and the humans hate the dragons for what they are. The weird thing about these dragons is that, in their human form, they are completely unfeeling. This is where Seraphina comes in. We learn early on in the book that her father is human, but her mother was a dragon, which makes her half dragon. That's why, at times, I felt like our main character was really cold. Especially in the beginning. I wanted to like her a lot more than I did, but she made it really difficult. The character I really loved was her uncle. He's her mother's brother, which means that he's full dragon, but at times he had more feelings than she did, which really showed how you didn't have to be human to feel like they did.

The romance between Seraphina and Lucian (AKA the prince!) didn't really turn into anything until near the end, which I actually liked. Seraphina really needed time to grow and learn to be more human, but also to embrace her dragon side. Which is a little hard since being what she is would basically get her killed, and she feels that if Lucian knows what she really is, then he won't want to be around her anymore. But she can't get away from him, especially when she gets involved in the investigation of a murder in the royal family. Like I said, the world-building was insane. But the biggest problem for me was feeling very many emotions for Seraphina because she didn't have very emotions herself, inward or outward. Her father was unfeeling (though he was the human one out of her two parents) and her uncle was constantly trying to deal with being a dragon in a human world while dealing with his familial love for Seraphina. And once she realizes that she loves Lucian, she shows even less outward emotion, although we do get more insight into her thoughts. I wish I had more to say about this book. It was good, but because of Seraphina, it wasn't great. I understand that that's who she had to be, but I didn't like it. Still, I'm really excited to see what happens in the next book! Definitely recommended for fans of YA fantasy!


  1. Thanks for the review. I just got the audio version of this. I'll have to see if I agree with you.

  2. Great review. I do have a copy of this on my old Iphone. Its a long one so I always put off reading it. But, the weird thing is, I REALLY like dragon books. I wish I could find some spare time to listen to this one. After reading your review, I know its going to be a book I can sink my teeth into and enjoy.

  3. I enjoyed this one too - my favorite bits were the politics and world-building. I wasn't bowled over by Kiggs, but maybe upon a reread I'll like him better as a character. Definitely looking forward to the next in the series!


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