Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Book Reviews

Where do I even begin? 

Seraphina book coverSeraphina is most definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I do sincerely mean it. It would be hard to surpass or equal the level of imagination and it would certainly be hard enough to make me even consider binge-reading till the break of dawn. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that I was also finishing the last chapters on the metro, smiling uncontrollably about my latest literary ship, like the total geek that I am.

Forty years have passed since the day humans and the dragon kind made a fragile peace. Exiled to the mountainous region, some of the dragons still dream of retaking the territory once conquered by humans. The others prefer the path of peaceful coexistence, they roam the world of men in human form and are known as the saar. Excessively rational, oblivious of the norms of tact and politeness, fascinated by all things scientific, the saar consider humans with a sort of detachment. Human emotions are alien to them, a sign of weakness that needs to be eradicated at the very first symptom. Human-saar interactions are limited, the great beasts were prohibited transformation, their presence in human society is regarded with permanent fear and distrust.

Less than a week before the visit of dragon lord Comonot, prince Rufus, the heir to the throne is found murdered in a suspiciously dragon-like manner – his head is “bitten” off. This is where Seraphina comes up. The music teacher of the princess gets dragged into a dangerous investigation, risking to expose secrets of her own. She is a cross-breed, an offspring of a dragon mother and human father, an abomination in the eyes of both species. Seraphina is not supposed to exist, but her fate becomes entwined with the fate of the kingdom.

Seraphina is yet another book that I have discovered through Tumblr. Powerful, fresh and imaginative, Seraphina is a novel about belonging. Neither human nor dragon, Seraphina’s very existence is shrouded in secrets and lies, leaving here standing between two very different camps on her own. Exposure would mean risk for herself, her father, and her beloved uncle Orma, a somewhat grumpy dragon living amidst humans. Her knowledge of dragons drags her into a dangerous investigation into the death of prince Rufus and the coup allegedly organized her vengeful dragon grandfather.

While I may not be in complete ave of Rachel Harman’s writing style (mind garden was frankly quite strange), what I have thoroughly enjoyed is the character and plot development. Seraphina is beautiful, talented , sassy, smart and insecure about her appearances and about her future. Nobody would want the real Seraphina, the girl that sports sales on her wrist and belly and has borderline telephonic abilities when it comes to other half-dragons. Her unique interests almost cost her life… Their society, with all the fear, rumors and prejudices are a faint reminder of things and opinions I have discovered in real life and this is one of the most pertinent points in this book, at least for me.

Seraphina’s mind garden is just strange, before you actually realize that all of the characters that she encounters in her visions are in fact real people, other half-dragons. She happens to have the ability to communicate with them. The imaginary countries, languages and territories may also be a bit hard to follow without a map and a glossary (both included in the book).

On the final note, I should say, I really loved the ending. Obviously, I cannot reveal what happens for spoiler reasons, but lets say it’s just the right amount of build-up for the big events yet to come. It is also a great point on character development, a moment of acceptance and promise. I am, most definitely, looking forward to reading the sequel.

Rachel Harman’s second book, entitled the Shadow Scale comes out on March 10.Shadow Scale, Seraphina sequel cover

Oh, and P.S. Halfway through the book, my “ship” has taken sail. Kiggs is so nice, smart and handsome, that he could have been played by Tom Hiddleston :D. Jessica Brown-Findlay for Serpahina and Benedict Cumberbatch for Orma. Yep, all-star Hollywood casting in my head.

Overall note: 5*

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