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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman Audiobook {4 Stars}

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 Audiobook {4 Stars}

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Narrated by Justine Eyre, Mandy Williams
(Seraphina #1)
Published by Random House on January 1st, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Length: 451 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

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.

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • 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.

Weaknesses:

  •  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.

Summary:

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.

4 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

© 2014 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I was glad to find a nicely done YA story without a heavy romance, too. Of course, while the book itself was pretty good, I’m not as hyped up for the sequel because, as cool as Seraphina was, I found myself more curious about what happened to some of the side characters who look like they’ll be absent from book 2. Ah well, still a good author to look out for in the future. :)
    Kel recently posted…Shop Talk: Editing for Self-PublishersMy Profile

  2. I read this one last year and really like it. Sadly we have to wait until March 2015 for next book. :(
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Review: Off the Edge by Carolyn CraneMy Profile

  3. I listened to half of it on audio as well! I loved Phina’s narrator – agree with you on the switch. I actually thought for a bit it was the same person until you said that just now. I ended up finishing it in print instead cause I started getting impatient. glad you liked it as much as I. I look forward to the next – slow parts are hard to deal with in any book. I felt that way recently about The Golem and the Jinni.
    Pabkins recently posted…Blog Tour & Giveaway: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – Fairytales Reimagined with a Kickass Sci-Fi SpinMy Profile

    • Haha, I can see how you’d like to switch to print, once things get going I was looking for chances to listen to my audio!

  4. I’m reading this one now. I though about getting the audio but passed. I’m liking this world too. Great review.

  5. This is such a great book. I love the idea of a mind garden, and (this might sound a bit cheesy), I actually used the idea for myself. I think it is relaxing and nice to spend some quality mind weeding from time to time.

    Love the review. I have to agree that some parts were painfully slow.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: Burning Paradise by Robert Charles WilsonMy Profile

  6. Hi Anya!

    I don’t read a lot of …typical fantasy? I don’t know how to word it….Oh, here- I don’t read books involving dragons. I don’t know why. Me and dragons just travel on different roads, okay?! That being said, I freakin’ love Seraphina. It really does show a lot of what IS going right in YA these days. There are no “oh, it’s for younger people…we can skip over some of those details or that development or that thing that ANY logical person would wonder about”..it’s really quite refreshing!!

    Oh, I was in my blog stats and apparently 5 people have came to my blog from your blog in the past month. I don’t know why (hunger games rants?) but it made me love your blog a little more! And the love level was previously quite high.
    Emilee recently posted…A Teen Girl’s View: Why *I* BlogMy Profile

  7. Woohoo! I’m so glad you finally read — and enjoyed — Seraphina! It’s a shame about the narration, though. Especially the over-dramatic trembling-voiced mom narrator. That’s just the worst. =/ But YAY!!
    Kelley (Another Novel Read) recently posted…Review | Freaking Out: Real-Life Stories about AnxietyMy Profile

  8. I found this book very unique and enjoyable too! I also liked the way discrimination was handled and the fact that the romance didn’t overwhelm the plot. I can’t wait to see what happens next :)

    If you enjoyed this and are in the mood for some adult fantasy, I thought Michelle Sagara’s Cast In Shadow series was like the adult version of this book and was also very good.
    DoingDewey recently posted…Way of Kings Read-Along – Part IIIMy Profile

  9. Seraphina was such a great read! I also really enjoyed her mental garden and found it really neat that the people in her garden ended up being real in a way. I thought the dragons were really well done for them being in a medieval world, where you would usually assume it would just be like “slay them all!!”

    I’m also eagerly awaiting the second book :)

    • Yes! I loved when the garden grotesques started showing up in real life, they were all so nice too, haha. The narration for them was so awesome!

  10. Nice review, Anya, and I’m glad you finally read Seraphina. I loved it, and I’m glad to hear that the audiobook was done well. Maybe I’ll borrow it from the library for a re-read before Shadow Scale comes out!
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…Wishing on a star… (Top 10 things on my reading wishlist)My Profile

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