Publisher: Random House Kids
Edition: Hardcover, 451 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
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.
Seraphina is a really unique epic fantasy novel with dragons! However they are not just your normal scaly fire-breathing monsters these dragons are incredibly intelligent, logical, and capable of taking a human form. If that doesn’t draw you in, Seraphina has a really interesting secret! I can’t tell you what it is but it definitely adds even more to the mix of originality.
I personally love the rich writing style and the interesting world building that went into creating the Kingdom of Goredd. The city is full of political and racial (humans/dragons) tension all due to the current peace treaty. There is also a really interesting religious system with numerous saints and even a heretic, which I’m incredibly curious about. The realness of these tensions is truly one of the highlights of the book, Hartman pulls in morality issues we can all understand. Then there are the dragons who are actually separated into two groups the Saars and the Quigs, saars are your typical dragons and quigs are more of odd little dragon cousins.
Seraphina is a smart, witty, and ‘prickly’ heroine with a huge secret that could get her killed. It’s something she’s learned to hide so well that she has a job as Music Mistress in the palace where her amazing music talent is most appreciated. I love that she’s resourceful and that while she has fear she’s willing to put it behind her to do what she needs to do. Then there is Prince Kiggs, who is the loyal honor-bound head of the guard and the swoony guy of the book. However I don’t entirely agree with the relationship that develops between him and Seraphina, while I loved them together it felt wrong given the circumstances. (Which obviously I can’t tell because it would spoil some of the book). The romance doesn’t take a big portion of the book though and even though I had some problems with it, it does develop nicely.
Overall this is a really impressive and really strong start to a high fantasy series. The set up is executed wonderfully and the amount of tension that builds over the course of the story really sets a promising pace for the next book!