Publication Date: July 1st, 2012
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Genre(s): Fantasy, YA, Romance
Series Status: Seraphina #1
Format and Source: Paperback, Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”
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.
I love when a book contains well-written characters, and I have to say that this contains some of the best written characters I have read so far this year! Seraphina herself is amazing. The loneliness she struggles with, due to not being able to become close to anyone because of her secret, was very well portrayed. This in turn with her mentor and father-like figure, Omar, being a harsh and emotionless dragon has made her become quite cold and terse with others, which I think was a great touch to add to her character. Though this doesn’t mean she wasn’t likeable. She is both brave and brilliant, with a unique mind and a craving for love and friendship. And, while Seraphina’s musical gift is a clear sign of her secret, it somehow makes her more human as she depends on it greatly for support and comfort. All these factors make her an absolutely wonderful character.
Now for the plot itself. It was set out in a semi-typical murder mystery type way, with family secrets and characters keeping certain information for themselves, just with dragons and steampunk-esque inventions. Sometimes it felt as if I was reading a crime-thriller book, but then the romance kicked in and that air was lost.
The romance reminded a lot of Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester. Not only are Seraphina and Jane quite similar, Seraphina and her love interest, which is obviously Prince Lucian, are unable to be together due to class differences and Prince Lucian is already bound to marry another. This, paired with the slow build-up of the romance, made it an aspect of this book I absolutely adored – especially since I love Jane Eyre.
Another aspect I quite enjoyed was the actual revelation of Seraphina’s secret. While we learn very early on what her secret is, it is not actually revealed to other characters, such as Prince Lucian, until quite near the end. Not only did this set this apart from loads of other YA books where the big secret is revealed to others quite early on, it added a lot of suspense and drama too – and also a lot of shouting, “JUST TELL HIM YOU IDIOT!”
One aspect of this book did let me down a little, and that was the actual dragon aspect of the book. Most of the dragons met in the book were in human form, and, while there were some scenes with full on scaly dragons, there wasn’t enough to satisfy my dragon craving. But I did like this take on dragons, making them detached and unemotional beings who choose to be that way, and who are only driven by logic. This made up for some of my need for actual dragons.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it. I hope to read the sequel sometime soon.