Monday, 26 August 2013

Seraphina Review

Rachel Hartman

Publisher: Corgi

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 talented musician at the royal court, but she has a secret that should never be told – her mother was a dragon. Growing tensions between humans and dragons mean she gets caught up in political issues, especially when the royal prince is murdered and all suspicions point to dragons as the culprit. Did dragons kill him? Will the peace last? And what if it doesn’t...?

Seraphina is a fantastic character – self-contained by necessity, but brave and smart. She understands both sides of the conflict but is hidden from both. Her growing friendship with the second heir, Princess Glisselda is fun and yet very serious as Seraphina almost incidentally starts to show her how to be more open to other ideas. Prince Lucien is a intriguing character and the relationship between the two of them is realistic and filled with difficulties. And then there are the dragons...  

Typically shapeshifting dragons are portrayed as humans with temper issues (okay – I’m grossly generalising but you get the idea). What I loved about Seraphina was the portrayal of the dragons as a truly alien species – with emotions thought to be common and unworthy of them. However, when in human form they struggle with understanding heir new bodies and the thoughts and feelings this brings. It asks some interesting questions about how much our bodies shape our thoughts and actions verses how much is our minds and spirits.

In total this is a complex and layered story with a history and (hopefully!) a future that will entertain and amuse. There is a murder mystery, complicated political tensions, dragon fights, music, family secrets and dysfunction with just a slight scent of romance. I was pulled in from the beginning and the story never goes for easy or simple making this one of the best YA fantasy offerings out there! Highly recommended!

Recommended for fans of Sarah J Maas & Rae Carson. 9 out of 10 


  1. I've been on a fantasy kick lately so I'm really excited to get to this book.

  2. I've been kicking myself lately because I still haven't read this book, and here is another glowing review for Seraphina :))) I swear, I will read it before the end of this year :) Loved your review, Mel!

  3. Loved this book- Seraphina is definitely a fantastic character.
    Great review Mel!

  4. Oh yes! I've been curious about this one. I mean... dragons! :) So glad you enjoyed it so much. Also happy to hear about the layers. Must read this one.