Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Title:  Seraphina
Author:  Rachel Hartman
Series:  Seraphina #1
Genre:  YA Fantasy
Pages:  451

Rating:  A-

Synopsis from  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.
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I got this book from the library for no other reason than the dragon on the cover.  Plus, I also heard some good things from other bloggers, but honestly, it was mostly due to the dragon.  I love all things dragon-related, whether they're books, stuffed animals, figurines, jewelry, etc.

Seraphina is an interesting novel with lots of elements of fantasy, romance, music, and drama.  It actually reminded me a little of The Girl of Fire & Thorns because of its setting and time-period.  Both stories have men in doublets, a religion similar to Catholicism, and heroines who are headstrong but still somewhat unsure of themselves.  I really enjoyed the different take the story has on dragons as well.  Overall, it's a great start to a fantasy series, developing the characters, providing extensive world-building, and setting up what promises to be an epic adventure in the next book.

But that's also the one thing I disliked about the book.  The author spends so much time building her world and characters that it takes a while for the plot to become apparent and for the story to get any momentum to it.  I almost gave up on the book in the beginning because it was taking too long to actually go anywhere.  I'm really glad I didn't though, because once the book finally starts to pick up its pace, it's exciting and nerve-wracking and heartbreaking.

I'm really excited for the next book in Hartman's series.  I only hope that now that she's spent sufficient time setting up her world in Seraphina, her next book will be fast-paced and action-packed.  A-

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