Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I just love a good dragon story! And I definitely got one with this book! I got this one on Net Galley a very long time ago. I think it was actually one of the first books I requested when originally signing up. It came out today, and I might be feeling the need to purchase a finished copy of this one because I have a feeling the hardcover will be a lot prettier than my digital advanced version.
The story takes place in a world where dragons can become human, and often do to work with the leaders of the human kingdom. A treaty has been signed by both humans and dragons, in effort to promote peace. Not all people and dragons agree with the treaty. And this becomes more and more clear as the 40th anniversary of the treaty draws nearer and monarchs are being murdered. Human/dragon animosities reach an all-time high though when it appears as thought the prince was murdered by a dragon. They like to cut off their victims’ heads and then eat them…
Seraphina has grown up her entire life, lying about who she really is. She is really half human/ half dragon. Her father married her mother, not knowing of her true origins. And for the most part, Seraphina gets used to not standing out, not drawing any attention to the fact that she very well may be the only human/dragon hybrid. But as she gets older, Seraphina has a lot more to hide. She develops scales on a couple parts of her body (that she hides with the right type of clothes). She also gets visions of other people. Her visions require a lot of work and maintanence (what sounds like some serious mediation) every day, or Seraphina ends up fainting in pain from the headaches their lack of order can produce.
Seraphina works as an assistant musician in the palace and blends in pretty well until she performs a solo at the prince’s funeral. Then everyone seems to know she is, including the other prince (Lucian). As Seraphina begins to put the pieces together in the mystery of one prince’s death, she and Lucian become a team. They work to find his brother’s killer while simultaneously working to keep a chaotic kingdom in peace. And of course Seraphina has to fall in love with him. To his credit, he does have a lot in common with her. It’s too bad he’s engaged to someone else, someone else who’s rather close with Seraphina too.
There’s murder, romance, dragons, epic sky battles, family heritage mysteries, special dragon half-breed powers, plenty of politics, dances, music, knights, and adventure! I loved getting to see all the behind the curtain scenes and symphony/choir preparations. Music played a large role here. I found the animosity people felt toward dragons so realistic and believable. The world-building and the dreamscapes were just plain beautiful. Each character was so interesting! I loved how different human/dragon hybrids had scales in different places. I liked how the kingdom and the dragons viewed art, and judged emotion.
The plot, itself, was actually rather simple. A large part of the book was about Seraphina lying to protect herself, and rightfully so, in my opinion. And the rest was about a certain character’s father and his involvement in the murder and possible plan for destruction of the peace. Everything that happened with that character’s father was definitely too predictable. I would have liked to be surprised about something in that respect. I mean Seraphina and Lucian pretty much figure out the mystery way back in the beginning and there was just not enough suspense and mystery in regards to keeping me hooked on that major plot device for the whole book.
At first I was getting confused with the characters. Was Lucian Kiggs a guard, a prince, or the princess’s fiancĂ©. Oh wait; he’s all three. I swear I was compartmentalizing him into three different characters for the first quarter of the book. At some point it all clicked, and I liked that Lucian is a guard and all of these other things; it makes him more real. I just wish he was more adequately described earlier.
The ending was not my favorite, but it leaves plenty of room for the need of a book 2. I loved the writing, loved the author’s unique voice, loved the characters, and really just plain loved this book. I give it a 9/10. The only reason it’s not getting a 10/10 is because of the lack of depth to the mystery aspect to the book. But really, everything else was just done so wonderfully. This is definitely an author to keep your eyes on. I really enjoyed reading this one!

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