Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

By Rachel Hartman
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Source: Publisher
Summary: 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.

Review: Normally, fantasy is not the first genre I go to when picking a new book to read. When I had the chance to review Seraphina, though, I had heard that it was a fantastic novel about dragons and that many people loved the story. I thought I'd give it a chance and see if I found it as enchanting as some reviews have said.

While the humans and dragons have established a peace treaty, there is still great hostility between the two species. Dragons are forced to exist in human form, living among humans but feeling like outcasts. As the anniversary of the peace treaty draws near, hostility rises and danger threatens the court. Seraphina has grown up harboring a very dangerous secret of her own, a secret she must keep from the court where she has just been hired as part of the music company. When one of the royal family is murdered and dragons are suspected of the crime, Prince Lucian Kiggs asks Seraphina for her help and Seraphina finds it even more difficult to keep her secret around the perceptive prince. Seraphina must do everything in her power to uncover what exactly the dragons are planning and how she can protect those she loves without revealing her secret that may destroy her entire life. 

I must say, when this book started, I was confused. Very confused. I wasn't sure who was a dragon, who was a human, and what the heck was going on between all of the humans and dragons. About halfway through, I discovered the handy glossary and their world became a bit clearer to me. However, the book was still super slow until about 100 pages in when Seraphina actually started working for the court and hostility and danger began to arise in the city. I stuck through it, though, and actually did enjoy the danger Seraphina and Kiggs faced as they tried to discover the secrets the dragons were hiding. There was so much secrecy and Seraphina really had to put herself out there to uncover the truth, even when it was the truth that could hurt her the most. 

There were a lot of characters in this book and they were hard to keep straight at times, but the characters we actually spent time with and got to know were fantastic characters. I loved how determined and dedicated Seraphina was and how her relationship developed with Kiggs. With a book that claims to be all about dragons, though, we rarely got to see the dragons in their true form. I wish we got more of the dragons as dragons instead of them in human form acting so submissive to the humans. I get that they had to be humans because of the treaty, but it was boring at times and I wanted more action and less talk. 

Overall, I expected more out of Seraphina. The beginning dragged on and was a little difficult to understand until the characters actually started doing something and engaged in danger and intrigue. I think the characters were well developed and established strong relationships and I loved how, with everything Seraphina did, she thought about how it would affect others before herself. I'm definitely going to pick up Shadow Scale to see what's going to happen next, I just wish we had a more clear sense of this world and more dragon action than we were given in Seraphina.


  1. Nice review! I too had heard amazing things about this one, so I picked up a copy when I found the original hardcover at HPB! Haven't read it yet but will at least know that I need to give it around 100 pages for the action to pick up! Glad you were able to enjoy this one despite a slow beginning! Very nice review!

  2. I've read similar reviews and I'm seeing that as true since I started yesterday. I've managed to put it down a few times but I'm eager to see how this plays out. I love Seraphina's character!


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