Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

1 May, 2012 Reviews 14 comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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.

Holy shit. This is honestly a first for me… Oh, hi by the way, I’m Archer.

I’m actually left speechless by the force of the ending of this book, yes I know it’s the start of my review but I have just finished it and wow. There are no words.

Now I’m torn, not because I’m reviewing the ARC, but because I was friends with Rachel Hartman before I even had the desire to read her book. And this is probably going to be a gushing review.

I need to make this perfectly clear. My friendship with the author doesn’t make a difference to my opinion of their work. If you don’t believe me then look up my review of Eve Eden vs The Zombie Horde.

I loved this book. More than I’ve loved a book in a long, long time. This book moved me with it’s simple, eloquent message: Love is not a disease. I know that this may sound fairly obvious to most everyone but I assure you that there will be people out in this world that believe that it is. This book beautifully conveys the importance of all emotion, not just love.

Seraphina is unique, both the book and the character, I have never read a fantasy quite like this. Gone are the long arduous quests. Gone are page after page of padding that could be summed up nicely with “We walked, and walked, and walked and just for a little change of pace… We walked some more.” This is a fantasy of intrigue. Very much a murder mystery if you will. This is a tale of knights and dragons. But not as you’d expect.

Without spoiling anything too much, I hope, Dragons are in one way everything you would expect them to be and at the same time they’re everything you wouldn’t and for that Rachel… I would like to pledge my undying love. The prose is beautiful. Shifting from the expected choices for the opinions of Phina to the cold, detached, almost forensic wording of the Dragons. And the transition isn’t jarring. The two styles work well together in the context of this book, however, if I have one criticism it is… Would all the readers of this book be able to read and fully understand all of the writing without the use of a thesaurus? (That’s not a slight against the author but rather the education system.) Some of the word choices seem a little bit… obscure for what is being sold as a Children’s book. And I just wonder if it will be as appreciated as it deserves to be because of that.

The cast of characters seem to be richly developed, in my opinion, and with so many distinct personalities to write, that is a rare feat for an author of late. So many YA characters just seem to have about as much depth as a puddle. These characters are richly written and of a depth and forethought on the authors part that I have not encountered since… erm… well for a long assed time.

The pacing of the novel propels it along at a satisfying rate and the world building is smooth, believable, absorbing. Sure there are infodumps, but they’re cleverly blended infodumps that provide much needed backstory. Which helps round out the world (and unlike so many other fantasy novels recently, do not descend into the mind numbing minutiae of detailing everything).

Look, honestly, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Seriously, why the hell are you even still reading my review and not beating booksellers to death with your cold hard cash… Oh yeah… release dates… my bad. PUT THIS BOOK ON HOLD AT YOUR LOCAL RETAILER GODDAMMIT! I mean it. If you love fantasy, put down the George R.R. Martin, step away from the Tolkien (yes I went there, deal with it), and bury the Rowling. This is a book that will keep you engrossed until the end and then will leave you shaking your fist and prodding Hartman with a stick until she finishes the next one. Because if a YA author can make a fan out of me, then surely she can out of you.


Archer, out!



Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Archer is a scouser currently residing in Australia, yes he does realise that he is about as far from home as it is possible to get. He enjoys reading anything that can hold his attention for more than the first chapter and he doesn't really care what genre it is either. Reading has been something he has done since he was a child and it is still, in his mind, one of the best ways to kill time. Outside of reading and writing book reviews, Archer is a serious gamer and he reviews the games he plays when he gets a chance. He is also a very keen amateur photographer, an enthusiastic cook and enjoys spending time watching films and essentially trying not to stress. Find him on GoodReads.

14 Responses to “Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman”

  1. Lexie B.

    Lovely book review, Archer! I am determined to get a copy of this one. O_O I have it on NetGalley, but I suspect I’m going to be needing a finished copy as well. I adore fantasy when it’s done right, and everyone seems to agree that this one is completely fantastic.

    Plus, DRAGONS!
    Lexie B. recently posted…Hate ListMy Profile

  2. Kat Kennedy

    I really love this review, Archer! Seraphina was such an amazing book! I think you capture my emotions perfectly!

  3. Kate C.

    Great gushing review! 🙂 Man, I am DYING to read this book, just because Rachel seems like a pretty awesome person, from what I’ve read on goodreads.

    I’ve never met a person with a great sense of humor who wrote crappy books.
    Kate C. recently posted…Cover Love…My Profile

  4. Keru Faye

    I need to get my hands on this. I’ve been looking to find good fantasy novels for reference/nostalgia.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge