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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman

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.

Released: July 10, 2012          Pages: 467
Publisher: Random House     Source: Library

First Look: ***** Young adult high fantasy debuts are rare these days, and ones with dragons are even rarer. When I find one, I just have to have it! And besides, this one had praise from Christopher Paolini. How could I turn that down?

Setting: ***** I liked how the setting was very unique.  It's hard to make high fantasy settings stand out, but this novel did a good job of it.  I loved how the dragons played into it. 

It could have been a bit better, though.  I liked it, but sometimes I wished I would have had more explanation.  It's good to assume your readers are smart and let them figure some things out on their own, but there's a limit.  There were a couple times where I went "wait, what?".

Characters: ***** I liked Seraphina quite a bit.  Her internal conflict drew me in, and I felt for her.  I felt for how she always had to hide from everyone, and her conflicted feelings towards Kiggs.  The author did a good job with making her realistic. 

Speaking of Kiggs...there weren't a whole lot of side characters that weren't against Seraphina, but I liked the ones I could.  Glisselda was awesome, Orma was endearing in an odd sort of way, and Kiggs was just...Kiggs.

Plot: ***** It started out slower than I would've liked.  I saw hints of intrigue, but it took awhile to actually get moving.  Longer than it should have taken, in my opinion.  My interest faded a few times.  I'm wondering if this series doesn't have a mild case of The Trilogy Trap (if it is indeed a trilogy).

Once it picked up, I enjoyed it much, much more.  I'm guessing that the second book will have much more intrigue and action and suspense to it, because it can just pick up where the first book left off. 

Uniqueness: ***** With its unique premise and setting, it stands out from other fantasy novels.

Writing: *****
The writing did a good job of getting through to Seraphina's voice.  It did a good job telling the story.  I have no complaints, and I find no typos. 

Yup.  That's it.

Dracomachia is just so much fun to say.  And if you read this book, make sure to read the Cast of Characters.  It's actually quite amusing.

Not-so-great: This is a short review.  Bleh.  I suppose I wouldn't be having this problem if I hadn't waited almost a full week to review this.

Overall: I enjoyed this.  It was a little slow in the beginning, but it picked up pretty soon.  It had a compelling and likable cast of characters.  It introduced a cool, unique, and draconian setting that's easy to immerse yourself in.  And besides, it had dragons!  I'll be eagerly awaiting the sequel.

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