Monday, August 06, 2012

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

From Goodreads: 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. 

My Rating: 4.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: I seem to be having difficulty writing reviews lately – watching the Olympics nonstop may have something to do with it – so I’ve decided to instead state five reasons why you should read Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina. Here we go:
  1. The worldbuilding: Besides the appeal of dragons, the world that Hartman created was incredible in and of itself. It literally felt like Hartman thought of everything down to the minutest detail – characters were even discussing the works of her made-up philosophers!
  2. The coming-of-age aspect: Although Seraphina is marketed as a fantasy, I think it can be enjoyed by anybody because it’s very much also a book about a young girl growing up, trying to figure out her place in the world, and learning to accept herself.
  3. The main character: Seraphina was just so fantastically complex. At times, she comes off as fragile and you just want to give her a hug; and then at other times, you realize that she’s actually pretty brave and tough. All in all, Seraphina was a protagonist I could easily relate to and root for.
  4. The secondary characters: I felt like all the secondary characters had something important to contribute to the story. Best of all, nobody seemed like a stereotyped character since even the minor characters were really well-developed.
  5. A romance that doesn’t overpower the plot: Although Seraphina’s realization that she loves Kiggs seemingly came out of nowhere (or maybe I was just oblivious to the signs), the romance never felt like an instant love situation (possibly because the two had interacted with each other a few times before Seraphina’s sudden insight into her feelings). I also liked that the love triangle that develops in the end isn’t like your typical love triangle because a) there are two girls and one guy and b) it wasn’t created to add more drama for the sequel or because a character is irresistibly attractive, but because there ends up being a conflict between duty and love. I was so thrilled to see Hartman stay true to her characters’ natures and acknowledge (through her characters) that it’s not an easy choice.
If you can get past the slow beginning and stick with Seraphina, I assure you that you’ll find a beautifully written story with multiple fully-rounded characters!

Seraphina was released by Random House Children’s Books in July 2012.

Comments About the Cover: I love the monochromatic look because it gives the cover this olden day feel, which I think is perfect since the world of Seraphina is very much medieval.  

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.  
original image from


  1. Ha, the Olympics have pretty much taken over my life over here. Which is unexpected as I normally don't care much about sports. ;) It's very time-consuming! :D

    Lovely review! I hope I can read this book soon. I started a while ago but couldn't carry on. It just didn't work for me at first but after all these amazing reviews, I want to give it another chance. It does sounds very mesmerising. I'm glad you liked it! :)

  2. Okay, this one sounds AMAZING. I love when the world is so unique and awesome, and the main character has so many different sides to her. I am definitely going to have to try this one in the future. :)

  3. I am justnsickmthat I still haven't gotten to this one. I liked your new little review style. The five reasons were great. I have read so many reviews on this one and everyone says pretty much the same thing, the world building rocks but it slows the pace down and that Seraphina is funny and awesome! I really need to get to this one! I know the Olympics are addictive!

  4. YAY! I really liked this one too. And yeah, the beginning was really slow but I was so invested in the world building that it didn't bother me as much. I adored the time Kiggs and Seraphina spent together. Plus, how could you not love Orman?

  5. Watching the Olympics day in and day out for the past week has definitely thrown me off my reviewing game too Z! I try to read while watching, but I always get addicted and have to set my book down to give the Olympics my full attention.

    So glad you loved this one too! It took me a little while to get into, but I fell in love with the world and with Seraphina. I thought the romance was great as well, and I can't wait to see where things go in the next book!

  6. Wow, I'm so regretting not requesting this one when I had the chance now! I think I really underestimated it, because I initially thought of it as a dragon-fantasy and it sounds like it's so much more than that!

    I'm also finding the same thing about the Olympics. I'm not getting a whole lot done on the blog or on my thesis... dang, it's just so addicting!

  7. Hahaha! I've been going very slow with my readings too due to the Olimpic games and my non-stop watching XDD
    Holy cow, the romances sounds totally lovely and the world building! <3333

    Wonderful review my dear. I actually really like this kind of review that highlights the good points in a easy way to the eye. AND OMG! I had no idea it was by a Canadian author. Im fallign behind with my Canadian reads. GOnna fix that soon! next Canadian read is THe Calling, then this one! thnx for the review. Im SO adding it to my basket =9

  8. Anonymous9:56 pm

    Excellent review! The hype surrounding this book has been unbelievable, and so I managed to buy myself a copy yesterday (even though I'm close to broke now, ha). And I agree with you- the cover is very original and has this wonderful medieval feel to it. :)

    Winnie the Pooh, yay. :) *high five to fellow Canadian*

  9. I read this almost a year ago, but I wasn't able to finish it. I think I'll give this another chance, and hopefully I'll be able to finish it this time.

    I remember liking the whole premise especially Seraphina's little world, but I kept falling asleep whenever I read the book. :/ I also remember the prince and that insensitive princess, and now that I think about them, I'm curious as to what happened to them.

  10. Yay! :D I'm so happy to hear you loved this book, Zahida! <3 :) It sounds so incredible, but I've also read a few negative reviews. I love relatable main characters (and awesome secondary ones!) and deep world-building. This book sounds like one I'll love. Thanks for the wonderful review! :)

  11. I think the cover is cool and I loved the way you did the review. Very easy to read and follow- plus it made it easy to see the strong points of the book. I definitely want to read this one. Thanks for sharing. Great review!

  12. Haha, I totally agree with you about the love confession. I was like, what? Also, my mind blanked on the love triangle aspect but I think I remember it now. The world building was so fantastic, definitely a strong point for me.


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