Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review: Seraphina

Author: Rachel Hartman
Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
"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.
" (Goodreads)

Seraphina came out last July and while I was aware of it, I didn't feel an overwhelming urge to read it until we got it for our classroom libraries and I saw how amazing the cover is. I just love it and the fact that it's mostly black and white. Just lovely! I finished it over winter break and loved it.

I have read a "dragon book" before (Firelight), but I enjoyed this one much more, not that Firelight was bad or anything, of course. I appreciated that this was a straight up fantasy book and loved reading about the history of the dragons and humans and obviously, learning about Seraphina herself. She was a great character: smart, musically gifted, funny, someone I would be friends with (you know, if Goredd was real). She's one of the best characters I've read in a long time and I even included her on my favorite characters list in the 2012 end of the year book survey. The supporting characters were also great, including Glisselda, Lars, and Orma.

I also loved the writing in Seraphina. Rachel Hartman is clearly talented and I find it hard to believe that this is her first published book. It took a little while for me to really get into it at the beginning, but you hit a point where everything just comes together and you want to keep reading to learn more about Seraphina and her world. As a teacher, I appreciated the variety of vocabulary Ms. Hartman used, and not just Goredd-inspired words. I think this book will be a little difficult for some of my students because of the vocabulary, but well worth it in terms of having read a great story and learned more vocab. I book talked it on Friday and both copies are already gone!

Basically, Serpahina is an excellent book and I recommend it to everyone, even if you aren't a fantasy fan. Excellent writing combined with a great story and characters makes a fantastic read.

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