Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

17 November, 2011 Reviews 2 comments

Review: Seraphina by Rachel HartmanSeraphina by Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 10th 2012
Pages: 451
Format: Hardcover
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository
Goodreads
five-stars

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.

What does it take to inspire someone to read a book?

Is it enough to give a heartfelt plea to the book’s worthiness?

Maybe a meme? Or jazzhands? Will jazzhands convince you?

Turtle meme doing jazzhands.  Your mind is blown.
I know, a meme about jazzhands! Admit it! This is pretty damn irresistible!

Okay, well, if you’re one of those strange people who would choose a convincing, well-informed review over a meme of a tiny turtle doing jazzhands then…

More jazzhands
Are you sure I can’t convince you with jazzhands? Maybe throw in a shuffle for you?

Seraphina is half dragon, and not because her father struggles with the basic nuances of the English language.

I said slay, not lay!
Well, maybe a little bit…

In this epic fantasy by debut author, Rachel Hartman, Seraphina is an abomination who must hide her true self from everyone lest she and her father are killed for heresy. Dragons have the ability to fold themselves into human bodies and have maintained a strenuous peace with the human kingdoms. Seraphina’s life is put into jeopardy when court intrigue and mystery implicates that the treaty between dragons and humans is in danger.

Hartman’s novel is almost flawlessly executed. The novel, whilst long, is easily readable. Hartman doesn’t rush her narrative, but neither does it seem to drag or falter.

Aside from a few brief flashback sessions, the story is carried entirely by Seraphina who may be half human and half dragon, but she is all brilliant. She is the equivalent of some kind of bear/dragon hybrid. Like, a bear/dragon hybrid that can breath fire. Yeah, that level of coolness.

Bear/dragon hybrid breathing fire
Well, what do you know? They have a meme for that!

Often in novels, the female MC will profess to be extremely smart but, much to my chagrin, behave agonizingly stupidly and prove to have the mental faculties of a gnat. Seraphina is the total opposite of TSTL. She is brilliant, charming, ballsy and brave. All the while, she is also tactile, honest and fully-developed. Actually, I can not think of a single character in this book that I could argue as being two-dimensional or aggravating.

In fact, I absolutely loved the portrayal of strong female characters in this book. It was done with such grace and humanity that I found myself respecting most of the women in this book. Glisselda and the Queen were fantastic characters whom I absolutely adored.

Kiggs, as the love interest, was believable, endearing and wonderful. His character, so eccentric, so insightful and honourable, completely won me over. His relationship with Seraphina was genuine, subtle and romantic. The best thing? He wasn’t any over-developed Romanticized Alpha Male! Thank goodness! He rocked it without needing to bully, oppress or corner Seraphina in any way!

The pacing is excellent for a lengthy novel. I gobbled it up and only at the very end did I feel any desire to speed things up. It is also beautifully well-written. The imagery alone was breath-takingly beautiful. The prose were polished and elegant. It was a pleasure to read. This novel was so full of emotion, beauty and poetry that I was honestly startled because I expected none of it.

I must confess that I am an acquaintance of Hartman here on GoodReads. I had grown a healthy respect for her opinions and expression, so I entered into reading Seraphina with a certain amount of skepticism and trepidation. I wonder if Hartman felt a similar trepidation when she saw that I had applied for her ARC and decided to read it! Because, let’s face it, I’m not exactly known to be the most generous of reviewers. That’s probably actually an understatement.

If you think that my opinion of this book has been swayed by my association with the author, then feel free to make your own mind up about it. I’m sure more reviews will be popping up soon.

But, to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when starting this novel. I’ve read work by friends before and had to put them aside, with embarrassment. This time is different. When Seraphina is released, I will buy this novel and treasure it. I will probably read it again and again when I need a laugh, or a romantic story or something to relax to. In fact, I loved this novel so much that I want to recommend it to everyone. I want to go get everyone I know and make them read it. This is the kind of novel that deserves to be published, that deserves to be successful. We need more of this out there. Not another trashy teen YA. This is the good shit. Right here.

So, my question is, what will it take to inspire you to read this book?

This ARC was provided to me by Random House publishers. No money or favours were exchanged.*

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy
RT @huffpostqueer: This couple's princess engagement pics are a modern-day fairytale https://t.co/wY8MbULG0W - 1 day ago
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