Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

seraphinaTitle: Seraphina

Author: Rachel Hartman

Series: Seraphina #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Overview: 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.

The Review:

Since I featured Shadow Scale in a recent WoW post, I figured I should probably get around to writing my review of Seraphina. As someone who openly professes to have a Dragon Obsession, I’m surprised it took me as long as it did to read this one. Well, I guess it’s not too surprising. You see, I initially found the overview a bit dry and didn’t think the cover was particularly appealing (and still don’t even though there’s nothing technically wrong with it). Even so, it’s a YA dragon book, so I knew I still wanted to read it… eventually. So, when my Escape Reality Book Club voted it in as March’s selection, I was thrilled to have the excuse I finally needed to pick it up.

As I’ve implied, I’ve read quite a few dragon books in my day, and  Seraphina was not quite like any one of them. The unique take on dragonkind, specifically how they interacted with humans, was as refreshing as it was different: as accomplished scholars, some dragons take the form of humans and more or less integrate into their society. What I liked is that, even though the dragons were in human form, their behavior was anything but human. It was nice to see them stay true to their nature and I especially loved seeing how they interacted and coped with everyone around them. Overall, I think the book had a great atmosphere – some of which was due to the voice and setting, but most of it stemmed from the quirks of these cool dragons.

While the storyline was unique, I have to say nothing particularly epic happens. It’s honestly a good thing the atmosphere, characters, and dragons were interesting because otherwise the story would have really been a drag. In fact, even with all of those cool elements, there were a few places I found a bit boring… specifically the dream sequences. I should point out that I have very little patience for dream sequences in general, which definitely affected my overall rating of the book. I doubt many other readers would be bothered by them, so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt.

Anyway, I enjoyed Seraphina enough to be interested in seeing where it goes next in Shadow Scale, although I’ll definitely be at risk of forgetting key elements by the time it comes out in 2015.

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7 comments on “Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

  1. I just finished this book yesterday and I’m very much in the same boat as you. I enjoyed it enough to want to read book 2 but I wasn’t blown away like a lot of people seem to have been. I found the first half of it very slow moving


    • Yesterday?! Wow, it looks like I have really good timing. I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw some issues with the pacing, but at least there were some redeeming qualities. I kind of wish I didn’t have to wait for the second book though, because I’m afraid I’ll lose my momentum for it by then.


      • same here : / at times I found it difficult to keep up with exactly what was going on, in the first half of the book at least


  2. Interesting to see what you thought of this one! It’s been on my radar for a while but like you the cover doesn’t appeal to me much and the blurb doesn’t jump out at me. The whole dragons transforming themselves into human form sounds like an interesting idea though!
    Great review. :)


    • Thank you! It does have some good points, but I wouldn’t say it was worth bumping it up in your TBR or anything. It’s one of those that you’ll enjoy it once you get around to it but doesn’t merit special treatment. :)


  3. I actually took this one out from the library and then returned it unread. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go back and get it. Though there’s a lot of more “high priority” reads coming out now to bump this back on the list.


    • I can totally see how that happened – I don’t think I would’ve read it had it not been for my book club. I would definitely suggest waiting until you’ve got nothing else amazing to read though. :-)


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