Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Thoughts - Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
published 7/10/12
464 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

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.

My thoughts -

I've seen this novel on several "Best Of" lists, so when I saw it on my library shelf I had to grab it. Turns out Seraphina deserves all the accolades it has received - this is one fantastic book.

Hartman creates a world for Seraphina that is complex and satisfying, with dragons and humans that clearly have years and years of history behind their tumultuous relationships. I appreciate that while Hartman gives her dragons plenty of personality, they are NOT just humans with scales. They are very, very different beings, and this creates tension on a bunch of different levels.

While Seraphina does find a love interest, this is not a "young girl falls in love" story - this is a story about a girl learning how to accept herself, and figuring out her place in the world, and solving a complicated mystery - oh, and also, she meets this guy. I found it incredibly refreshing to read a YA novel with a female protagonist that did NOT have the love story as the central theme of the book.

The aspect of the novel I appreciate the most is how well it works on multiple levels. Seraphina can easily be read as a fun, intriguing mystery with dragons - as a piece of entertainment, it's fantastic. But Hartman infuses the novel with so many layers - interesting discussions can be had about race, about people with differing abilities, about body image and self-acceptance. Additionally, Hartman is a great writer - she made me laugh, she wrote some incredibly beautiful passages, she kept me riveted from start to finish.

I absolutely loved this novel, and I can't wait to read more in this world. I highly recommend this, both for young adult readers and for those who just love a good fantasy novel. I think this will be a favorite for many years to come.

Finished - 12/12/13
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for violence
My rating - 9/10


Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Isn't it great? I'm very excited for the sequel to come out. It took me a little while to get into the book, and then I ended up loving it so so much. I agree that it was great for the love story not to be the central theme, AND at the same time I thought the love story was handled very well.

Kailana said...

I loved this book! I have seen some mixed dates on when the sequel will appear, but hopefully sooner rather than later!

Aarti said...

I really enjoyed this one, too! And, as everyone else already said, am quite excited about the sequel. I bet it will be grand!