This post originally appeared as a guest review on Read. Sleep. Repeat. Thanks for having me Octavia!
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman has dragons, an awesome new fantasy world, a strong message about the stupidity of discrimination, and a great narrator. Why didn’t I listen or read Seraphina sooner you ask? I don’t know D: I’m so glad I’ve fixed this problem, however, since Seraphina really surprised me with the direction it went, but I’m really excited to eagerly await Shadow Scale with you all now :D. I also no longer have to be embarrassed that I hadn’t read THE dragon YA of 2012, haha.
Note: I purchased Seraphina through Audible. All opinions are my own.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Narrated by Justine Eyre, Mandy Williams
Published by Random House on January 1st, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Length: 451 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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.
- The narration of Seraphina was quite enjoyable. I actually picked the audiobook up from the library last year and ended up returning it, so I was happy to finally finish that process, haha.
- Seraphina is full of creativity and interesting ideas. Seraphina the character has a mental garden that she must maintain in order to keep sane, which I must admit was one of my favorite unexpected additions to the fantasy story :D.
- Dragons! The take on dragons in Seraphina is quite interesting, a great mix of classic elements and reimaginings of how dragons might actually get along with humans in a medieval world. Plus there are actually two subspecies of dragons, the more the merrier!
- Seraphina has a bit of romantic tension, but not a full out romance, and I enjoyed the change of pace. At first I was thought “no way is that happening, not possible!” and then I became intrigued, and now I have no idea what will happen in the next book D:
- The world-building in Seraphina is top-notch. It is one aspect that might have been better to read, because there are a lot of people from a lot of countries visiting the court and having a map to reference would likely help some people enjoy that aspect. I was fine just learning the names and customs of countries from how they sounded, but that’s me ;-).
- I really appreciated the way the discrimination message was handled in Seraphina. Some humans are understandably unhappy with the dragon species, given the wars that happened decades ago. However, it is made clear how cruel and foolish the stereotypes and assumptions based on racism are from both humans and dragons that are too dense to see past the troubles of the past.
- There are flashbacks in Seraphina from her mother’s perspective and the narration switches to a different voice actor. I was not a fan of this second narrator since she always had this tremble in her voice, making everything sound overly dramatic…. There aren’t too many times this cropped up though, so I wouldn’t say don’t listen to Seraphina because of it.
- Seraphina has the problem of many high fantasies in that it has slow parts as the world and characters are developed. I didn’t mind too much, but this is where listening comes in handy since I didn’t have to pay complete attention during those segments.
- Remember how I mentioned that I actually borrowed Seraphina on audio from the library a year ago? I returned it because I didn’t like the narration actually. I grew to enjoy it once I gave it a chance again, but at the time it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Definitely listen to a sample before purchasing to make sure it works for you.
Seraphina is an excellent high fantasy dragon story and I’m relieved that I finally found a way to fit it in! (Audiobooks are the best for that :D.) It proves that YA can have deep world-building and plot elements focused on adventure and intrigue instead of romance. (Not that there is anything wrong with the romance heavy books, I just get tired of the intense focus in YA.) I’m so freaking excited to explore more of this world in Shadow Scale since Seraphina is going to actually go out adventuring :D.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
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