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.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.
Dragons, Dragons, Dragons! Need I say more? Fine, okay – let me explain the wondrous thing that is Seraphina. Humans and Dragons were at war 40 years ago until the human Queen and the Dragon General signed a peace treaty between the two races. Since then that peace has been a very delicate thing indeed. Dragons can take human form allowing the races to better communicate and learn from one another. But dragons value logic, reason and science and they shun emotions, while of course we humans are a very emotional bunch. The dragons are capable of locking their emotions away with mental techniques thus denying themselves that particular part of the human experience. But 16 years ago a dragon fell in love with a human and from that union was born Seraphina, half human, half dragon.
Seraphina has lived her life in fear and loathing of what she is, but despite that she has carried on with life and has even landed herself a job in the palace as a music mistress. She heads the court’s musicians as well as gives the princess her music lessons. But troubles are brewing as one of the princes has been murdered in a very suspiciously dragon like manner. Somehow Seraphina constantly gets mixed up in situations that draw attention to herself and even some dangerous circumstances. She’s spent her whole life trying not to draw notice but now she seems to the center of attention much too often..
I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of character development that I witnessed take place with Seraphina. You really see her mature while still maintaining her stubborn prickly personality. She has a real habit of sticking her foot in her mouth and getting into trouble. You’d think with how much she needs to keep her secret that she wouldn’t be as bull headed as she is. Though, I have to say I really liked that about her.
With a good bit of political intrigue and mystery surrounding the late princes death, Seraphina gets to be quite involved with investigations that Prince Lucian and Princess Glisselda are doing. The closer she gets to both of them the more she discovers she wants all those things she never thought she could.
Looking at the cover it definitely isn’t your typical “pretty girl in a dazzling dress” YA cover. Which I was so thankful for. I believe this one has some great potential to appeal to adult Fantasy readers because of that but also due to the strong world building and mature personalities of the characters. In this world Seraphina is an adult, with a job, living on her own. So I think this has a good deal of crossover potential that it need not necessarily only be considered a YA book.
Melancholy, humorous and at times heartbreaking – Seraphina was a wonderful fantasy book that would be a shame to miss.