Hardcover: 464 Pages
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
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.
Seraphina is a masterpiece, no other word can be used to describe Hartman's debut novel. Nowadays it's such a rarity to find novels in the young adult genre that are just original and beautiful in their own way. Hartman doesn't try to beautify anything; her dragons are ugly and cold and yet the author still dazzles us with the fascinating story of a special girl named Seraphina.
I really can't say in which page my love for this novel started. It may be that I was captivated from page one. Hartman has a beautiful writing and even though the story builds up slowly, I was never, not even once, bored. Actually I read the 464 pages in one sitting. I felt like the story progressed naturally and that everything happened at the suitable time. And for the romance, I have no words. Maybe, just plain wonderful yet heart-wrenching would describe it well. But the best part for me in this novel were the dragons. They were so different than how most novels depict them. Hartman's dragons can transform themselves into humans and they are as expected: insensitive, intelligent and just plain peculiar.
Seraphina was an incredible main character. I liked her from the start and I loved her throughout the novel. She was strong, intelligent and, overall, just a remarkable character. Prince Kiggs doesn't disappoint, either. A chivalrous and sweet hero that made me want to be Seraphina. I may say that Hartman's characters are actually really realistic and each very special in their own rights. Even Glisselda and Seraphina's uncle Orma had a place in my heart. Mostly I loved Orma and Seraphina's interactions, since they were really awkward but also really sweet.
I loved how Hartman's world is written in such intricate detail. Many may say that the story lacks action and is just slow but I'm not a big fan of such novels and Seraphina is in my opinion one of the best (or at least most special) books this year. If you liked Christopher Paolini's Eragon series, you will probably enjoy this one. But I recommend this one to everyone, mostly fantasy fanatics.
Thank you to Random House Children's Books for providing me with this novel in exchange of an honest review.
Rachel was born in Kentucky, but has lived a variety of places including Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She has a BA in Comparative Literature, although she insists it should have been a BS because her undergraduate thesis was called “Paradox and Parody in Don Quixote and the satires of Lucian.” She eschewed graduate school in favour of drawing comic books. She now lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family, their whippet, and a talking frog and salamander (who fight zombies)(really. There are a lot of zombies in the Pacific Northwest). Website