Seraphina is the first novel by Rachel Hartman, the first in a duology.
[Finished on: 25.6.2015]
The human kingdom of Goredd has entered into a peace treaty with the dragons, some of which live in human form among the normal humans. But the peace is threatened when Crown Prince Rufus is found decapitated – a way of murder that usually suggests dragons at work. Seraphina, court musician with a secret, finds herself in the middle of this political tension and much more deeply involved than she would like – and not only because she risks revealing her own secrets.
Seraphina reminded me a little bit of Graceling, which is a good, if not to say excellent thing. It’s a fast, engaging read with an interesting world and even more interesting dragons and I enjoyed it immensly.
There were quite a few things, plotwise, that I guessed without realizing that it was meant to be secret or surprizing – until the reveal came and I was like, “well, wasn’t that already clear?” But it’s a testament to the pacing and Hartman’s writing that I didn’t mind these moments one bit. Also, the overarching mystery did remain unclear to me until the end, it was only the smaller pieces that were revealed rather early that didn’t manage to surprize me.
In any case Hartman built interesting dragons that, while not completely revolutionary, did some original things with general dragon lore, creating a type of dragon like I haven’t seen before. Those dragons and the humans around them live in a world that, again, might not be something we’ve never seen before, but it’s well thought out and smartly handled, so it didn’t matter that much.
But the thing I probably liked most about Seraphina was, well, Seraphina. She’s not always easy and carries a lot of self-hate with her, which actually leads to self-harm. That can be a little trying and tiring to read about, but it is important to get characters like that as well. Seraphina might not be happy with who she is – and in the world she was born into, how could she be? – but she can be a protagonist and a heroine nevertheless. And she can and does deal with her own shit.
Plus, she’s surrounded by adorable characters that I loved just as much as Seraphine – Glisselda (how wonderful that we get to see those two girls befriending each other and that Glisselda has quite a few depths behind her apparently vapid princess-exterior), Kiggs (who was just so wonderfully smart, open and honest) and Orma (who tries so hard at everything), to name but a few.
I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel.
Summarizing: an excellent read.