Half-dragon, half-human, Seraphina tries to maintain her secret in a land where being mixed is not only illegal, but extremely taboo. As she joins court as a music mistress, a member of the royal family is violently murdered, which is strongly suspected to have been done at the hands of a dragon. With the help of Prince Lucian Kiggs, Seraphina investigates the murder, in hopes of restoring peace.
Torn between her human heritage and her dragon lineage, Seraphina struggles to keep her secrets from unravelling, and her heart from being stolen, as the country is wracked in political turmoil, and another war looms on the horizon.
I absolutely loved this book. LOVED it. Ever since finishing it last night, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it or wondering what’s happening next in Seraphina’s world. That’s how you know you love a book, you have withdrawal symptoms when you’re done!
Seriously though, I couldn’t stop reading all about Seraphina’s colourful, richly described world, as I felt like I too walked with her throughout her uplifting, eye-opening journey. I was practically hopping in my seat as I read, because it’s been so long since I’ve read a book that’s made me want to do nothing else but read. And it was awesome. 🙂
What I loved most about this book was the writing. Oh my, reading this book was like devouring a decadent, five layer, chocolate cake, smothered with whipped cream and icing and strawberries, and it was just delicious! Hartman’s words danced right off the page and waltzed right into my mind where the incredibly rich world of Goredd bloomed right before my very eyes, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Seraphina herself was a treat to read about. Flawed, yet brave; stubborn, yet honest, Seraphina is a girl that I could easily relate to. Her journey to accept herself, scales and all, was a beautiful one, and nearly broke my heart a few times. Despite the fantastical setting and the complex political intrigue, Seraphina is the one that stole my heart. Whether a teen or adult, Seraphina’s struggles with herself, her ‘monstrosity’ as she calls it, is what makes this book so relevant and Seraphina’s story so poignant.
The world of Seraphina itself is a complex, but rich one; filled with a royal court, numerous courtiers, and dragons in human shapes, no character is a place-filler. All have a role in the bigger story, and this is what makes the world so realistic, despite the fantastical elements. Seraphina’s uncle, Orma, is such a colourful character, and his unwavering love for his niece nearly brought tears in my eyes, especially at the end.
The romance, as well, is slow to build, and there’s no case of insta-love here. Seraphina and Prince Kiggs work together, share jokes, and build mutual respect, before Seraphina starts to fall for him. Their slow-budding romance is fraught with tension though; Kiggs is engaged to Princess Glisselda, who is also Seraphina’s friend, and Seraphina can’t imagine him accepting her as a half-dragon, half-human. What I also loved about the romance is that it isn’t all-consuming; unlike so many other YA novels, where everyone else is disregarded for the sake of the main love story, I appreciate the mature way Hartman handled things. People aren’t pushed over for the sake of Seraphina and Kiggs, and they too acknowledge that their feelings aren’t the be-all-end-all of their relationship.
With a highly imaginative, rich world, a cast of complex, captivating characters, a sweet love story, and a heroine who learns to love herself, scales and all, Seraphina is easily one of my favourites from this year. Told as lyrically as the songs the protagonist sings, Seraphina is a story to treasure, a story to reread, and a story to keep.
So for that: 5/5.
Thanks for reading,