Review Detail

Seraphina FeaturedHot
Young Adult Fiction 5535
A story of scales, both musical and other
(Updated: July 10, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Rachel Hartmann’s astounding debut novel, SERAPHINA, is an utter joy. Set in a refreshingly original world of dragons, music, princes and revolution, the book unfolds organically – and compellingly. Like the title character, the tale seems quiet, almost unassuming, at least at the beginning, but it quickly swells to full volume, until you find yourself immersed in a symphony of story too powerful and beautiful to let you do anything but read.

Seraphina means “the fiery [or] burning one,” a dangerously apt name for a half-dragon girl. Her secret is a terrible one, as the dragon race (which in this world can assume human form) are both loathed and feared by most humans, and tensions between the races are mounting fast.

Seraphina knows how crucial it is to keep her lineage secret, but she is a remarkably talented musician, which gift draws her to court, and to the notice of the royal family, including the insightful, intelligent – and dashing – Prince Lucian. Seraphina is an unusual heroine in that she is an often reluctant participant in her own story. She never sets out to “save the day” but just does the job she sees as hers to do. Ideally, she would truly prefer to quietly play and teach music without a spotlight, but she is too perceptive, and the hints of coming disaster are too strong to let her rest.

Seraphina believes herself to be utterly alone in the world, as humans and dragons alike find the prospect of a half-breed abhorrent. Indeed, her father only discovered that his wife, Seraphina’s mother, was a sarantraas (a human-shaped dragon) after she died in childbirth, her silver blood staining the sheets. Over time, as Seraphina taps into her mother’s memories buried within her own mind, she begins to understand the love that drove her dragon mother to stay with her father despite the taboo, and thus comes closer to accepting both halves of her nature.

This is rather more plot summary than is necessary for a review, but it seemed important to provide a quick taste of the beautiful complexity of SERAPHINA, its many interwoven threads of plot and theme. The writing is beautiful, the plotting and characterizations equally so. Indeed, the book is so well-crafted the craft itself vanishes entirely, leaving only the story without the distraction of the writer’s lingering presence, trying to draw attention to itself. That is the mark of a truly well-written book, I believe – that it doesn’t actually seem written at all, but as if it solidified from the ether.

The end is sufficiently satisfying, or at least satisfying enough so I didn’t have to stomp on the book or throw it out the window, but it is utterly clear there is more story to come. It had better come soon, because I long to spend more time in this world, and with Seraphina.
Good Points
Original, compelling story
Engaging heroine
Worthy love-interest
Complex plot
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 2 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Astro Kittens: Cosmic Machines (Astro Kittens)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Greetings, my little Astro Kittens! Are you ready to take...
Astro Kittens: Into the Unknown (Astro Kittens)
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Greetings, my little Astro Kittens! Are you ready to take...
All the Things We Do in the Dark
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Sadie meets Girl in Pieces in this dark, emotional thriller...
The Rubicus Prophecy (The Witches of Orkney, #2)
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Abigail has just started her second year at the Tarkana...
Fancy Nancy: Camp Fancy
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Based on the Disney Junior TV show and inspired by...
Rules for Vanishing
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes...
What Makes Us
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving...
Harry Potter Origami
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ever wanted to fold your own Chocolate Frogs? Or play...
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Heart-wrenchingly honest, fans of Brandy Colbert and Nicola Yoon will...
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution...
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In 2001, audiences first met and fell in love with...
On the Come Up
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers...
Spin
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord's (aka DJ ParSec) career--and life--has come to...
Leah on the Offbeat
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best...
The Brightsiders
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out,...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Could you fall in love with a robot? ...

Latest Member Reviews

All the Things We Do in the Dark
 
4.3
"ALL THE THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is an intensely challenging and thought-provoking read with some magical realism elements...."
Rules for Vanishing
 
5.0
"RULES FOR VANISHING is a deliciously haunting YA horror perfect for Halloween. Told through collected documents, interviews, and texts, this..."
What Makes Us
 
5.0
"WHAT MAKES US is an intriguing story that follows a teenaged boy, his mother (in the past), and his friend..."
Serpent & Dove
 
5.0
"Lou is on the run from her family and she lives a thieving life with her friend Coco. Both of..."
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
"BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY is an engaging contemporary YA that presents some issues very well. The writing is in a..."
On the Come Up
 
5.0
"ON THE COME UP is a fantastic new YA contemporary that handles big issues like racism and sexism. The characters..."
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
"FIREBORNE is a new YA fantasy that follows two teens, Lee and Anna (Antigone) in alternating points-of-view. Lee and Anna..."
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
 
4.0
"As Middle Grade graphic novel adaptations go, this urban fantasy is above par. The artwork has a bit..."
Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, #1)
 
4.0
"INTO THE CROOKED PLACE is an engaging YA fantasy that follows five characters on a quest of aligned goals- even..."
To Kill a Kingdom
 
5.0
"TO KILL A KINGDOM is a wonderful YA fantasy about a siren and a pirate. Told in alternating points of..."
The Rift
 
3.3
"THE RIFT is a unique YA fantasy that takes place on Black Water Island, a place prized for the herd..."
The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1)
 
3.3
"THE BEAUTIFUL takes place in New Orleans, primarily following a young woman, Celine. Celine fled France after a terrible event..."
 
5.0
"Eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson goes to Madrid, Spain with his family in order for his mother to reconnect with the country..."
Glow of the Fireflies
 
3.3
"GLOW OF THE FIREFLIES is a YA fantasy that follows a teenaged girl, Briony, who has no memories from before..."
Creep
 
3.3
"CREEP is an interesting YA thriller/horror that follows an incoming high school freshman, Olivia (Liv). Olivia lives in a small..."
 
4.0
"EVE OF MAN by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher is the latest in YA dystopias. In the story, a phenomenon of..."
 
4.7
"Sam Jones and Zoe Miller are seniors in high school, but they've never had a reason to communicate during their..."
 
4.7
"Michigan Manning just wants to play hockey. Unfortunately, the high school she attends in the upper peninsula of Michigan has..."
When You Ask Me Where I'm Going
 
5.0
"WHEN YOU ASK ME WHERE I'M GOING is an absolutely gorgeous collection that reaches to touch the soul. In poems,..."
A Match Made in Mehendi
 
4.0
"A MATCH MADE IN MEHENDI is a light-hearted contemporary romance. Simi aspires to be an artist, but right now, she's..."