Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Great Reads: "Seraphina" by Rachel Hartman
Here's the blurb from Amazon:
Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
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.
I think this is the best YA book I've read in a long time. I liked all of the characters a lot, though sometimes they became a little confusing. Seraphina was tough but vulnerable, and her plight was sympathetic and relatable to so many situations kids face in our world. The dragon culture and the Goredd culture as well as the clash between them was fascinating to me. I also loved the concept of Seraphina's mind garden, and how she had to tend it every night before going to bed. On top of all of that, there was a very sweet love story that I felt developed naturally over the course of the book--no insta-love happening here. And Hartman's writing? It had several breathtaking moments, both imagery-wise and emotionally. Truly beautiful.
As to things I didn't like? The characters in the book were a little hard to keep straight sometimes, especially during palace scenes. And it took nearly till the end of the book before I learned that Seraphina had dark hair and Kiggs had brown eyes--which is all you really ever learn about their physical features, except that they are both though to be attractive. (Not really a big deal, but I found it a little frustrating not to get a good picture of any of the characters.) I suppose the plot moved a little slow in the beginning, but with all the world building that was happening, I really didn't mind. It gave me time to digest it and the chance to set it down and pick it back up again. And I suppose it took a little longer for Hartman's plot clues to begin working together for her, but I believe her subtly is one of her strengths--except when it comes to characters' physical features. ;-)
Anyway, I know I'm really into a book when I dream about it after reading it, and last night, my dreams were full of dragons and demi-dragons. :-) So 5 stars goes to Seraphina! Can't wait to read the sequel Shadow Scale coming out on March 10th! I've already ordered my copy.