Seraphina Book Review

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Despite a four decade old peace treaty between human and dragon kind, the kingdom of Goredd is rife with distrust and prejudice. Dragons have the ability to fold themselves into human shape, but have strict laws regarding how they display emotion and other human like traits. In turn the humans are deeply discriminatory towards dragons.

Trapped between both these world is Seraphina Dombegh, a unusually talented musician, and self-enforced loner. Seraphina is unwittingly drawn into a plot, along with the Queen's guardsman, that could very well destroy the truce between the two nations. Struggling to keep a terrible secret, Seraphina searches for a way to solve the mystery of a dead royal before the treaties fortieth anniversary.

Seraphina is a rich and intellectual world, with deep thoughts regarding love, music, art, religion, and philosophy. The author seems to be asking the reader with profound implications, What does it mean to be human? What must happen for a person t accept themselves? Should the prejudices of others affect how we see ourselves?

Seraphina is a deliciously complex character. Although she has been told to keep a low-profile, her curiosity and keen understanding of both dragons and humans along with a stubborn crankiness and bravery always seem to draw her into situations that catch the attention of her superiors.

The secondary characters are well-drawn as well, with the truth seeking and handsome Prince Lucian and his fiancee Princess Glisselda. These two, despite their differences were perfect foils for Seraphina. Lucian has just enough charm without feeling false. Princess Glisselda is bubbly and bright, but also intelligent and intent on protecting her kingdom. Add to these cast of characters is Seraphinas cantankerous father, her diplomatic dragon tutor, acrobats, evil dragons, and deceitful Earls.

Despite the dark plots and twists, Seraphina reads more like a mystery than an epic fantasy though. The dragon confrontations are never as scary as in The Hobbit or Eragon, and until the very end the stakes never felt as big, but that didn't change its impact or its beauty.