Monday, June 9, 2014

Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman - Ashley's Review

Title: Seraphina (Seraphina #1)
Author: Rachel Hartman
Year Published: 2012

My Pre-Reading

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.


Review: It has been way too long since I've read a high fantasy book. I love all of the other genres, but I think fantasy is my favorite. Especially when dragons are involved! And Seraphina did not disappoint in any way! I loved every part of this book, and I am a little upset with myself for not reading it sooner.

Although this book spent quite a bit of time setting up the story, I didn't struggle to get through it because the world building was just so wonderful. Everything is important to understanding why certain events happen, and by the time the plot started to move quickly I was glad that I was relatively familiar with this world. Hartman's dragons are so unique, and I think that knowing how they react to things and how they typically act is really necessary.

One of the things that I found most interesting was the inclusion of music. Since dragons are very mathematical and logic-oriented, they make incredibly skilled musicians - when it comes to hitting all the right notes and being technically correct. However, since they refuse to allow themselves to feel human emotions in their human forms, their music lacks the emotional aspect that allows people to relate to it. Seraphina's music has the best of both worlds, which makes her an incredibly talented musician. I really enjoyed reading about how Seraphina plays and how she teaches Princess Glisselda, and I can't wait to see how her musical abilities will play in to the rest of the series.

There's a little bit of romance in this book, but it's not front and center and I think that it was very well done. Seraphina's love interest is engaged to another girl, and there's nothing they can do about it...yet. Apart from romantic relationships, this book puts a pretty big emphasis on familial relationships. Seraphina is often disappointed by the lack of emotions that her family displays, especially her uncle (on her mother's side). Watching her relationships with her uncle and her father change over the course of the book was really neat, and I loved how they were just as well developed as Seraphina and Kiggs. Hartman builds her characters as elegantly as she does her world, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them grow and change even more as the series progresses.

If you're a fan of books like Graceling, Incarnate, and other high fantasy YA books, I would definitely recommend Seraphina to you. It's a beautiful book full of incredible imagery, characters, and world building and contains some of the best dragons I've ever read about. It starts out a little slow, but just give it a chance. I don't think you'll be disappointed! A 5/5!


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