Title: Seraphina (Seraphina #1)
Author: Rachel Hartman
Narrator: Mandy Williams, Justine Eyre
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (Random House)
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Acquired Via: Personal Collection
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 the 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.
The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.
When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult...while its discovery could mean her very life.
Even after being a blogger who writes about books and a librarian who talks about books almost daily, it is still difficult to put my feelings about this book into words. I read Seraphina for the first time three and a half years ago (before its release), and I had nothing to say to sell this book. I was slack-jawed.
A month later, I am still looking at the draft of this review. Yes, I have been toying with it for that long.
Seraphina has everything for me: an awkward relatable heroine, strong world-building, great character interactions, and a swoonworthy love interest. How's that for a start?
Seraphina is a young girl who wants to go out in the world and live her life, but she has a secret that makes her keep herself apart from everyone whether she wants to or not. You find out early on that she is half-dragon, which is a bit stressful with the heavy prejudices between humans and dragons. (Only Seraphina's father and a few of the dragons know. Maybe her stepmother, as well, but she is barely in the book.) Because of her need to keep her scales and true nature hidden, she comes across as prickly, much to her dismay. Seraphina is a sweet girl, and it's hard not to fall in love with her.
The interaction between humans and the dragons on the cusp of the anniversary of their treaty is what makes the novel, as well as the interaction between the characters. There is strain and growth and twists aplenty the the clock ticks down to Treaty Eve. It's so hard to not give anything away.
I don't want to talk about the love interest or give too much away, but this is the most I've been able to write in the years since I've read this book. Seraphina is the book that showed me that even YA fantasy novels can have a hell of a lot of depth, and it changed me as a reader, then and now. It's a book that I recommend on a regular basis, and it is one that I will reread over and over again. If it's sequel, Seraphina, is half as good, we're all being given a spectacular literary treat.
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