Thursday, February 16, 2012
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House
Publish Date: July 10, 2012
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I know what you're thinking based on the cover. It's the same thing I was thinking when I first saw it. This is a high-fantasy novel. It's not, not really. Yes, there are dragons. Who doesn't like dragons?! BUT the dragons can squish themselves down into human form and 'pass' for human. In fact, they're so good at passing that they are required to wear actual silver bells to signify that they are dragons. Of course some don't have to wear them, they have special dispensation. It's tricky. The musical descriptions, the time period detail, the society and world building that went on in this book - amazing. I think it's a fine blend of high fantasy and sci/fi with a little steampunk thrown in.
The dragons and humans have a tenuous peace. The dragons seem to be better at it than the humans are. They don't openly look down upon the humans and aren't mean to them, even though they could transform and eat them. Dragons aren't allowed to hoard treasure anymore, so they now hoard knowledge. Pretty awesome, eh? Of course the lowest thing that you could possibly be in this society is half-human, half-dragon. Shall we all guess what Seraphina is?
Seraphina - she's 16 years old, the music assistant at the palace, her mom is dead and her dad raised her. He's a lawyer. She's smart, funny, loyal and has some serious issues. She knows she does and spends quite a bit of time hating herself for what she sees as her weaknesses. Anyone that's had a hard time fitting in or had a secret they were afraid would get out, should be able to sympathize with Seraphina.
Kiggs - bastard cousin to the royalty, engaged to the Princess, smart, quick to catch on, intrigued by Seraphina.
Orma - Seraphina's tutor. I thought I wouldn't like him at all at first, but he turned out to be one of my favorites. I think I liked him because of his lack of emotion - the very reason I thought I wouldn't like him. It really made him very amusing. His best line? 'I'm attracting small children, shoo it away, won't you?'
Princess Glisselda - at first comes off as a vapid princess, but you quickly find that she's smart, shrewd, devious and delightful. All wrapped up in a pretty package.
The peace between humans and dragons is at risk. One of the human royalty has been found dead and it looks like the work of a dragon. If someone doesn't figure it all out, everything could go up in smoke...quite literally. Seraphina is determined to help keep the peace, even while keeping her own secret. This is an excellent book for just about everyone. It is part of a series, but can easily be read as a stand alone.