winged reviews
Review, Young Adult / March 9, 2015
Seraphina by Rachel HartmanSeraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #1
Publisher: Corgi Childrens, Random House Children's Publishers
Date: January 2013
369 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the BookGoodreads

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in 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.

Quite honestly, Seraphina deserves nothing short of a glowing review! I absolutely adored it. I’ve never been much of a re-reader, but I can easily see myself picking up Seraphina again and again – in fact, I wanted to do just that, the minute I turned the last page.

I was attracted to this book after binge watching GOT – I was curious to actually read a book about dragons; creatures that I was so unfamiliar with but oh so very curious about.

The world building in Seraphina was incredible. Hartman has crafted the kingdom of Goredd, complete with its own rich and unique culture, religion, traditions and courtly affairs; as well as her own take on dragons, of course. I loved the intricate details of these elements and never felt overwhelmed or confused. However, if you have concerns about stepping into an epic fantasy novel, Hartman has included a full character list and glossary, which would come in handy if you’re unfamiliar with the dense world-building that comes with this genre.

We learn of the deep-rooted tensions between dragons and humans, resulting in suspicion and prejudice from both sides. The atmosphere oozed through the pages; it was so well developed and vivid. I loved the emphasis on knowledge, philosophy and musical talents; dragons and humans pursue the arts rather than gold and other material riches.

Embedded into the backdrop of the political affairs of Goredd, are themes of love and acceptance, which were equally well formed and compelling.

The writing was an utter delight; it has wit and an unforgettable charm. Hartman certainly has a way with words and managed to keep me glued to the story with such an engaging narrative. I was both eager to know more and reluctant to finish.

Seraphina, herself, is such a relatable character, in the sense that she is self-conscious and generally uncomfortable in her own skin. I for one can undoubtedly empathise with this feeling and I’m sure many others can, too. As we are faced with challenging experiences in our lives, we come to realise that our differences are special and unique, rather than ‘grotesque’. This is the journey that Seraphina has to tackle and which gently encourages her to feel empowered by her identity. Despite her inner struggles and the constant threat of persecution from those around her, Seraphina remained determined and adventurous. I loved the glimpse into her hybrid characteristics and her ability to negotiate between dragons and humans. I also enjoyed her relationships and the parallels that were made between her and Prince Lucian.

The remaining characters were just as wonderful and multidimensional as our main character and I grew fond of their unique personalities and quirks. I especially loved Orma, who was quiet and composed, with a passionate interior.

For me, the romance wasn’t completely unexpected; the telltale signs were there throughout the story, but that is by no means a criticism! I enjoyed the subtle hints and gradual build up of the romance, which I have found to be quite rare in young adult novels. The love felt very genuine and pure.

All in all, Hartman has created an engrossing story with characters who are sure to capture your heart. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Shadow Scale.

5 Stars

11 Responses to Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

  1. Danielle says:

    Wonderful review! I've been eyeing up this book for a while, there's something so intriguing about dragons. The worldbuilding sounds amazing, definitely going to pick this up next time I see it!
    My recent post Amour Amour by Krista and Becca Ritchie

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you 😀 I'm thrilled you're going to pick it up! I actually never thought I'd enjoy reading about dragons – I don't know why, I guess I assumed they weren't my thing! Seraphina definitely proved me wrong. The world building is wonderful – you really get sucked into the world.
      Thank you for your comment and I hope you enjoy Seraphina as much as I did 😀 x

  2. Alexa S. says:

    I loved Seraphina! I actually reread it recently before I read Shadow Scale (the sequel!), and it was still as impressive as it had been the first time. Your review is really great! I love that you mentioned some of the nuances, particularly when it comes to Seraphina's growth.
    My recent post An Author A (Mon)day: Jodi Meadows

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks so much 😀 I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your reread of Seraphina and I hope you found Shadow Scale just as brilliant?! I can't wait to read it. x

  3. Sarah says:

    I loved this book – glad to see you enjoyed it too! I also can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!

  4. Veronika says:

    I'm not a fan of books/tv shows/movies about dragons but based on your review this book sounds awesome! Can't wait to get my hands on it. 🙂
    Lovely, review.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you! I'm so glad I've been able to change your mind about dragons! To be honest, before I watched Game of Thrones, I wasn't really interested in them! Then I saw Seraphina popping up everywhere and I'm so glad I gave it a try. It's great to step out of your 'comfort' zone and be surprised! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did 😀

  5. emmasbookery says:

    A really great review Sarah! You've made me want to pick this book up so much and embarrassingly I haven't heard of this book or author before so its refreshing to find something new! I mean dragons?! I LOVE! 😀

    • Sarah says:

      YAY, I'm so glad I've introduced you to a new book and author!! You will become so attached to Seraphina – she's a wonderful character! I'm even more excited to read the sequel now 😀

  6. lissiet says:

    I think that the unexpected romance really means that it was a good slow burn! Sounds like a read I need to add to my TBR!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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