By: Rachel Hartman
Reported by: Julianna Helms
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.
-Summary from Goodreads || Purchase at Mrs. Nelson's, an awesome local indie bookstore!
Everyone loved this book so much that I was both frightened and buoyed to pick this up. It seems that a lot of reviewers knew Rachel Hartman before they read the book, but I've never had any acquaintances made with Rachel (though seriously? I'd love to). So if you didn't buy anyone's review because you thought they were all biased--well, I'm telling you now that I had no qualms against liking this book.
Of course, I didn't need to worry about bias and whatnot--Seraphina was absolutely tinkling.
It's very elegant, I think. That's the word to describe it: elegant. But also very true, and very subtly honest, at that. So no, the word to describe Seraphina is eureka. It's an epiphany smashed into beautiful words plastered into inky lines trilling on the flimsy disguises of a thin page (not to mind you, though, that it is indeed a very long story, but definitely too short of a time to spend with the flamboyant characters).
Actually, I take that back. The characters aren't flamboyant (though hmm, some are, I suppose). What I'm trying to say is that they are incredibly multi-dimensional, and that I absolutely want to be Phina's best friend, but that I also love Kiggs so very much and I want him to manifest into real life and marry me or something. Wait, no, I can't have both, can I? Darn. But see? The thing with these characters is that they are so utterly impressionable that you can fester up their responses even if they aren't there--their personalities and actions are so completely unforgettable that I don't need an exact wording in an existing scene to tell me what they want or need.
The best part about this whole masterpiece, though, is the absolute fascination with beauty that seeps through the spine of this book. Not beauty as in one's own vain reflection, but beauty of music, of emotions, art, acceptance, friendship, etc. etc. etc. This book explores some of the closest subjects to my heart (such as philosophy) without making it inconsistent, unbelievable, bland, or mad. Rachel writes like a pro and her words and ideas flow so easily over the pages and the reader that it's almost impossible to realize that you're adapting to this amazing, aesthetic view of life until suddenly you cannot imagine existing without it.
Seraphina may be "just another epic fantasy about dragons", but I assure you, it's original and gorgeous in its own right, and contains a brilliance too bright to conjure without reading it, and too vast to rest in until I hold the sequel in my eager hands.