Summary: In Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces you to a new type of dragon, one that is ruled by logic and eschews emotion. The story begins 40 years after the beginning of an uneasy peace between the dragons and the people of Goredd. There is still distrust between the two groups and when a member of the royal family is murdered all signs point to a draconian perpetrator the situation grows even tenser. Enter Seraphina Dombergh, a young unusually talented musician who recently got a job as the assistant to the court composer. For reasons beyond her control, she is drawn into the political machinations of both sides and must work with the perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs to solve the mystery all while protecting her own secret one that she fears could cost her her life.
Review: I picked up this book on a friend’s recommendation and I am so glad that I did! Hartman’s dragons are unlike other dragons I’ve encountered in fantasy literature. They are unique enough to be interesting all while maintaining the traditional aspects of dragon lore. Seraphina is an engaging protagonist. She is smart, loyal, foolhardy, headstrong and, at times, cranky. The novel has a lot to say on a variety of topics from art, philosophy, religion, politics to what it means to be human(or dragon). The theme of acceptance (both of self and of others) runs throughout the book and it has a lot to teach both teens and adults. All of this is encapsulated in a beautifully built world and surrounded by well-developed characters. I’d wholeheartedly recommend this one to anyone looking for their next epic fantasy series.
Read-a-likes: If you enjoyed Seraphina be sure to pick up her story in the sequel Shadow Scale. If you are looking for another strong willed female protagonist in a well-built fantasy work check out Sabriel by Garth Nix.