Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

SeraphinaSeraphina by Rachel Hartman (#1 in the Seraphina series) (Corgi Childrens, 3 January 2013)

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SERAPHINA is a smart and stunning new take on dragons that uses the contrast between dragons and humans to bring human emotion to the fore of the book, making for a fascinating and often moving story.

Prince Rufus has been murdered – his head bitten clean off, evidence that it could only have been the work of a dragon. Dragons and humans have enjoyed peace for four decades, thanks to the treaty negotiated by Ardmagar Cormonot, leader of the dragons, and Queen Lavonda, but now this fragile peace might be easily lost. Seraphina, a musician at court, finds herself somehow entangled in the investigation into the murder, led by Prince Lucian Kiggs. But Seraphina has a terrible secret to hide...

SERAPHINA is gorgeously imagined and beautifully written. The plot is intriguing and well-paced, with a fair few twists and an exciting climax. Hartman's prose is outstanding among YA lit; to me it's up there with Laini Taylor. It's just so crisp and evocative, and the whole story is written with such warmth and humanity.

The worldbuilding was so intelligent and detailed (SERAPHINA AND KIGGS DISCUSSING MADE UP PHILOSOPHERS!!!), and I loved the dragons. Dragons are unemotional creatures who believe in logic and reason above all, but in order to engage with humans, they take on human form, and in these human forms, they are often baffled and angered by the emotions that they feel. It makes for delightful humour as well as heartbreaking insight into the human condition, especially into the love and affection that humans feel for one another. There are some really hauntingly lovely lines in this book about love. I may have teared up a few times.

I loved all the characters! Seraphina was a strong and resolute heroine, but I loved her vulnerable moments too. There's so much sadness and loneliness in her, it rips my heart apart. There are lots of fantastic relationships to enjoy here between Seraphina and the other characters. Seraphina and her father! Seraphina and her uncle! And ahhh, Seraphina and Kiggs and their love story. It was so good and heart-achey. I was completely drawn into Seraphina's feelings. AND PRINCESS GLISSELDA! So composed and competent and so sweet to Seraphina.

Seriously. The friendship between Glisselda and Seraphina. WHAT I WOULDN'T GIVE TO SEE MORE OF THIS IN YA. Glisselda is engaged to Kiggs, whom Seraphina finds herself in love with, and yet she and Glisselda remain wonderful friends and it's clear that Seraphina doesn't want to jeopardise their friendship. She doesn't ever resent Glisselda for being Kiggs' fiancée. She shows admiration for Glisselda because Glisselda is awesome and totally deserves admiration. It's lovely.

SERAPHINA was just excellent and emotionally engaging from start to finish and absolutely my cup of tea. It's so impressively complex and rich and there's just so much to marvel at in just one book. I can't wait for SHADOW SCALE.

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13 thoughts on “Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

  1. Cynthia! You had me at, "to me it's up there with Laini Taylor"!!! I have had this book for the looooongest time, but just haven't got round to reading it! I don't even know where abouts in my piles it is! I'm going to have to go hunt for it now, because woah, that really is high praise! So, so, sooo eager to read this book now! And dragons! I recently fell in love with them in Robin Hobb's Rainwild Chronicles series (adult high fantasy), and so I'm a big fan at the moment! CYNTHIA, I AM NOW EXCITED! :D
    Jo recently posted Review: Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

    1. Post author

      Yes, Jo! READ IT. It's so amazing! I absolutely loved it. Embarrassingly I started it all the way back in July. I read the first half and thought it was amazing but then I suddenly hit this reading slump where I just did not want to touch a book again at all for about half a year (which explains why I went missing last year). Then I picked it up again a couple weeks ago and was like YES THIS IS STILL AMAZING I CAN'T BELIEVE I DIDN'T FINISH READING THIS. Seriously. THIS BOOK HAS AMAZING DRAGONS.

      1. Eee, I am so excited! I think the edition I have is big and clunky, so I may have to get a different copy! But I sooo want to read this now! :D

        (P.S. Comment fields being strange again. No saying which is which, even when empty. I got it wrong the first time round and had to re-write this comment. Just so you know!)
        Jo recently posted Review: Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

          1. Post author

            No, I haven't! I'll be sure to check it out. :D I haven't actually read any books about dragons that I can remember apart from SERAPHINA, haha, but I loved the dragons in it so I will check out Firelight!

        1. Post author

          I've put the field labels back in now! I think it's because some older browsers and particularly Internet Explorer (I don't know if that's what you're using) don't show placeholders. So I've put the field labels back in. Hope it's working fine for you again now!

  2. Ahhh I still haven't finished this, even though I'm more than halfway through. Honestly I feel like audio books are completely different because I have such a different opinion of everything. I was really confused in the beginning, but ah well. I was thinking of just going to the library and reading the paperback of it, because the audiobook, is just, kind of weird.
    Valerie recently posted Read Play Blog #5

    1. Post author

      Hmm, yeah, I think this would be pretty confusing in audiobook form! Things can get really complicated, and there's a really helpful glossary at the back of the book plus a list of who everyone named in the book is, so that's really great since there are a ton of characters in this book and also lots of strange words. Definitely check out the paperback! :D I really really loved this.

    1. Post author

      YES I READ YOUR REVIEW ON GOODREADS AND I WAS VERY HAPPY TO SEE THAT YOU ALSO LOVED GLISSELDA!! SHE IS THE BEST. The dragons were very like Vulcans, yes! THEY WERE SO GREAT.

    1. Post author

      OMG SUCH A LONG PREORDER. I don't really tend to preorder books much but ahhhhh I CAN'T WAIT FOR SHADOW SCALE.

      I know, it's an excellent book and I really want everyone to love it as much as I did.

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