Book rating: 04 Hardback Seraphina

By (author) Rachel Hartman

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 465 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 221mm x 53mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 7 October 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0375866566
  • ISBN 13: 9780375866562
  • Sales rank: 28,779

Product description

Lyrical, imaginative, and wholly original, this "New York Times" bestseller with 8 starred reviews is not to be missed. Rachel Hartman's award-winning debut will have you looking at dragons as you've never imagined them before... In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side - while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer. The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being. When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive--and dashing--Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina's struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult... while its discovery could mean her very life. "Will appeal to both fans of Christopher Paolini's "Eragon" series and Robin McKinley's "The Hero and the Crown."" --"Entertainment Weekly" "[A] lush, intricately plotted fantasy." --"The Washington Post" "Beautifully written. Some of the most interesting dragons I've read." --Christopher Paolini, "New York Times" bestselling author of Eragon

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Author information

As a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of her award-winning debut novel, "Seraphina." Born in Kentucky, Rachel has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada. A "New York Times" bestseller, "Seraphina" won the William C. Morris Award, received eight starred reviews and was named to multiple "best of" lists. To learn more, please visit or

Customer reviews

By Jessica 28 Dec 2012 3

Dragons! I was very drawn to the idea of this story because I haven't read enough dragon books. While these dragons are most often in human form, there are still tell-tale signs of who they really are and their personality differences are what makes their characters the most interesting.

The story itself is very political in nature and while many times I am ok with that, the politics in this one bored me. I hoped for more items of a fantastical nature, more action and mystery, and at least a bit of romance. (Ok, ok, so there was some, but seeing as how little it was, I'm writing it off as it doesn't really count.) I wanted so much more.

The dragons and Seraphina's abilities are the most interesting bits to this story. Had those two pieces been expanded on even further, I think I would have enjoyed this so much more. As it stands, it was hard for me to finish this book, I had to make myself continue reading past the (alternate) history lessons to get to the good bits. For those that aren't turned off by more detail than you really needed to move the story along, this one is more for you than me.

Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

By Brenna Staats 16 Aug 2012 5

Seraphina is a breathtakingly beautiful fantasy book. It simply sweeps you away into its own little world, and is a prime example of good fantasy. It's enchanting, reads like a dream, and leaves you pondering its story and characters after finishing it.

I would say, however, to be cautious with what you expect with this one. It may not appeal to every reader right away, and takes some growing into. But it's well worth it for the experience, as it slowly grows on you and steals your heart.

Reasons to Read:

1.A clever, intelligent heroine:

One of my favourite things about Seraphina is that it features a heroine who's defining character traits include her cleverness and intelligence. There's so much more to her than just that, but it's clearly an integral part of her personality. And it completely shines through in everything she does - she's a little bit quirky, but totally brilliant. I love that we get to see a character like her, who is a bit socially awkward at times, but still fantastic in her own way. And the same thing goes for the love interest - we don't get constant descriptions of his eyes or body or overall good looks.

2.A mysterious plot, full of unexpected twists:

I really thought I had figured the mystery out. I thought I had solved it not even halfway through the book and was less than enthused that the characters hadn't figured it out like I had yet. So imagine my surprise when I was wrong - totally, completely wrong. There are so many layers to the plot, it doesn't seem possible to guess it all in retrospect. And I was so caught off guard. But I LOVE it when I'm wrong and the book surprises me.

3.Bewitching secondary characters:

I don't know how Rachel managed to do this, but she took cold, distant, emotionless characters (dragons) and somehow made them come to life. That's HARD to do, because of their (lack of) personality for the most part. But she succeeds. And not only that, but the rest of the cast of characters from Lars to Glisselda just lept off the pages for me. I couldn't get enough of Selda, and I was pleasantly surprised by how taken I was with her.

4.Rich details and complex storytelling:

This is one area where I think some readers may have a harder time with the book and it can take a little bit of getting used to. The world Rachel created for Seraphina is vibrant, and overflowing with details. It really takes on a life of its own. I found the glossary and cast of characters in the back of the book to be indispensible while reading. But this is what made the world really come to life for me, and made me fall in love with the book.

5.Brilliant thinking:

Seraphina is obviously intelligent. But I can tell that Rachel is, too. It takes a very thoughtful person to craft such a rich story, and I found myself questioning so many ideas and rethinking some standards I held to, and ultimately making comparisons to real life. I especially appreciated her twist on dragon mythology (nerd alert: I studied a little bit of this in some POLITICAL SCIENCE classes in university. I know, that sounds very odd, but it was incredible) and I could really tell that Rachel had researched this and had a solid background in it. Especially with the concept of hoarding. I LOVED that.

That's not to say that I didn't have a hard time with it, because I was completely confused at certain times. The book is rather long for YA, and there are so many characters and words that I just wasn't familiar with so it took some getting used to.

And there were a few instances where I found myself second-guessing my infatuation with Kiggs. He won me over, eventually, and I know it really wasn't fair of me to expect him not to struggle with a few things but I think I was really expecting better of him. And he did let me down once or twice, even though I know it's because he's flawed.

Seraphina is just another reminder of why I adore fantasy - I love it to the moon and back. You have no idea what I'd do for more books like this one (good thing Rachel's working on a sequel)!

E-galley received from Random House Canada for honest review; no other compensation was received.

By Jessica B 17 Jul 2012 4

Seraphina starts of with a traditional medieval fantasy setting, including the rich backdrop of medieval music which I loved. There's an entire mythology of Saints to this world, none of which are very saint-like and it made me laugh. The conflict was a typical one about the mistrust and prejudice between two races. But further along in the story the author developed it into something more. It became about the struggle between emotions and reason. The dragons felt like modern people sent back to the middle ages with their emphasis on science, reason, and invention. I've always wondered how people from the middle ages would clash with modern people and it was very interesting to read. The writing was beautiful and the pace was relaxed but still kept my interest. The story reminded me in an odd way of Jane Austen. There was a focus on propriety, lots of personal and political intrigue, a respectful mixing of the classes not to mention lots of balls and dancing. Overall, it kept the spirit and style of traditional fantasy with just enough slight twists to keep it fresh. By far the most interesting and creative aspect of the whole book was the character Seraphina herself. It was an enjoyable read and the index in the back had my Google-loving self smiling with glee.

By Valen Steel 10 Jul 2012 4

Valen Steel @ thereadersheartstring . blogspot . com

Seraphina by debut author Rachel Hartman is an intricate tale filled with exquisite world-building, rich, lush characters and political drama that is a powerful match to the fantasy that readers will be expecting and will love.

The Cover: Never judge a book it's cover, is the saying. Well, I did. I love this cover. It's brilliant. I want a giant poster of it to hang on my wall. 6 out of 5 Hearts!

Teasers: "I wasn't much of a runner; each step seemed to drive a spike into my knees, and the hem of my gown, sodden with dirty snow, clung to my ankles, nearly tripping me. I ducked left and jogged right, sliding on bloody ice . . . I climbed a ladder onto someone's work shed, hoisted it up after myself, and used it to climb down the other side . . .Basind's breathe rasped close by my neck; his hand hit my swinging satchel, but couldn't quite get a grip on it. I burst out of th ealley into bright sunlight. People scattered before me, crying out in surpise . . . we'd emerged in he middle of a cluster of men in black-feathered caps: the Sons of St. Ogdo." Pg 333-334.

My Thoughts . . .

To be honest, the book had a rocky start for me, simply because not a lot was happening. The world was being introduced and set up as well as the many, many characters, the physical and the mentioned. It was just a lot to take it, a lot to remember and to try to understand, but once that happened and the main plot of the story was revealed, things really kicked in and I was able to enjoy the world, the characters and the writing.

And did I enjoy!!

This book was fantastic. It reminded of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which I adore, in the sense that this was an alternate old timey reality that was mixed with odd technology, though the technology of Seraphina's world is a great deal simpler when compared to Lyra's world.

Which brings me to our protag -

Seraphina is the MC of this novel, which only makes sense since the novel is her namesake and she was, thankfully, a huge breathe of fresh air for the YA world.

For those of you who are tired of love being the main point of your YA reads know this: this book is about love. It's about love for a mother, a father, a uncle, the people and one's self.

This is not a love story between a boy and girl, but with that being said, there is a romance for Seraphina in these pages -

Seraphina was strong, yet unsure. Brave, yet unwillingly so. She was intelligent, yet human (sorta) and realistic. And she was in love, yet it did not make her weak, did not detour her from her tasks and she changed through this love in the BEST way possible.

I very much enjoyed the romance and it was clear from the get-go that this would be one simply because of the bickering and stubbornness of these characters. It reminded of Hermione and Ron, only not that extreme.

Like previously mentioned, the main plot of the story took a while to unravel itself and once it did it was very captivating. The plot was all mystery, politics and fantasy.

Seraphina lives in a world where the dragons or the Saar, were once in war with humans and though mostly everything is good, there is still a lot of unease between the races, ALL of the races, including the Saar's less then intelligent cousins, the Quig.

(Side Note: The Quig . . . .eck!! They are just gross. Gross. Gross.)

Most people still silently fear or dislike the dragons and the same goes for the dragon towards the humans. The dragons are rather emotionless and think more like one would think a robot would, while the humans are of course emotional beings and just cannot connect with the scientific and stone logical Saar.

Saar think that the humans are pathetic sacks of emotional flesh and the humans think the dragons are just animals with a secret agenda to one day take over the world.

There was a main villain and a few side baddies that Seraphina had to deal with and for the most part I loved all of the evil doers. However, and this is a big however, I did not like who the main villain was revealed to be since they were in disguise. I liked who the main villain really was, just not who they were pretending to be. It just was not realistic to me. When the MV was revealed, I was just like, "Really...?" but then the MV started causing mayhem immediately afterwards, so I guess it payed off. I shall spend some belief, but only some....

This novel does deal with dragons, so by nature is a fantasy novel if anything but the fantasy of this world was . . .natural.

I believed in everything. It all made sense and all seemed plausible within the confines of the world and story. There was no wizards or faeries (yet!), but the subtle fantasy of the world was always present, especially with Seraphina and her 'visions'.

The visions?

Too spoilery to really mention, but they were just so awesome and 'grotesque'!

I loved it.

Perhaps my favorite part of this novel was the writing, which did take a minute to get in to, but once I did, it just made everything richer. I loved the world and the complexities of the government, the religion and the characters.

Hartman's writing style is very mature and complex for YA and based on that, I could have easily seen this book as a real treat for adults. It was just refreshing to see a really captivating and at times, challenging novel made for teens.

I would def say that this novel is age group defying and good for all who want a intriguing read.

It was great.

There is one particular scene that takes place in the dark washroom involving blood and a knife and it was just scary!

It was great and dark and scary.

But -

Though I loved the writing style, things did get somewhat confusing. One moment we are in a memory that Seraphina is having and the next we are in present day . . . or so I think. Around one or two times, I was not sure if Seraphina was having a flashback or if the event that was occurring in the novel was actually happening at the present moment.

I did a little rereading and was still, a tad confused, but it truly did not deter me from the story in the slightest.

Like mentioned before, things did take a while to get in to and I read on due to my own stubbornness, which in the end paid off, but I'm not sure if everyone will do the same, which I hope they do, 'cus it is worth it.

In the end, Seraphina by author Rachel Hartman is a complex and thrilling story of magic, murder and memories that I greatly enjoyed and cannot wait for everyone to read!!


Advice: Push through the first 50 or so pages, 'cus it is worth it.

Question: Should you read?

Answer: Thuuluu Yes!!

Story: 4/5
Pace: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Writing: 4/5
Ending: 4/5

Seraphina gets 4.1 Hearts out of 5!!


Valen Steel @ thereadersheartstring . blogspot . com

By Linda 10 Jul 2012 5

Previously published on my blog:

WARNING: Linda is about to sing the praises of this debut novel. If you'd prefer not to be overwhelmed with a deluge of her gushing, please skip to the last paragraph.

I love dragons. I love medieval settings. And I love high fantasy. And those things I loved? Well, they were all in Seraphina. So, clearly, I loved it.

First, I want to explain why I didn't give it five stars. (If you're viewing this review on a website other than my blog, there's a good chance that I rated it five stars there. Because this book was a 4.85-yes, that specific-and I had to rate it up, of course.) The first few pages of Seraphina were, admittedly, slow. I had trouble finding it within myself to keep on trudging through Seraphina's daily life. A large part of this fourth of the book was spent on setting up the world that Seraphina lived in, and it was getting quite wearisome.

But when I hit somewhere along the 100-page mark, I couldn't put this book down. The first hundred pages had taken me a few days to read (I was busy, I had other writing to do, I had other books to read, blah blah blah), but the next four hundred? I read it in two sittings, only stopping in between to sleep. (My mother had chided me for staying up until two in the morning to read a book on my computer.)

I adore the characters in this book. If you've read my reviews before, you probably know by now that I hate Mary Sues. Guess what? There wasn't a single Mary Sue in this book. I rejoiced. And I fell in love with everyone in this book-the humans, the dragons, and the half-dragons. Ah, yes. The half-dragons. Because Seraphina is a half-dragon. Or, if I was thinking from the perspective of a dragon, a half-human.

Seraphina + boy whose name I will not name because I don't want to spoil anything for you = cute, adorable, worthy of squealing. Since I've developed such an eye for things like this, I knew immediately upon meeting the guy that he was the love interest. Heck, I knew it before that. Because I'm that good. But getting back on topic: Seraphina and boy together equal one of the cutest couples I've read in a while. I wish they'd hold hands.

And now I have to talk about Rachel Hartman's world. This world is INCREDIBLE. I'm not kidding. Six kingdoms with wicked cool names: Goredd, Samsam, Ninys, Porphyry, Ziziba, and Tanamoot. Two sub-species of dragons: saarantras (who can maintain a human form) and quigutl (who meddle with metal - that pun was completely unintended, by the way). Medieval setting-yes, that means palaces. Cathedrals. Handsome princes and clever princesses. And all that royal court intrigue. *rubs hands together*

After reading that, tell me that you don't want to read this book.

Oh yes, and music! I love music.

I'm sorry, this review has started to sound incoherent even to me. I'm just in too much awe. I have author-worship of Rachel Hartman now because she has created such a fascinating world (she created it when she was in seventh grade, wow).

The only coherent paragraph in this review: Hartman's debut was absolutely thrilling. It had all the qualities that I value: an intriguing mystery (as the murder of a prince would undoubtedly generate a mystery), mythological creatures (dragons, no less), a medieval tone (and with it, the court and the gossip), strong characters (so much that they could be considered stubborn), and an adorable romance (worthy of squealing over, I promise). I could only find fault with the first few pages, but Hartman has undoubtedly delivered a promising debut. I will eagerly await for her sequel, which is currently dubbed Dracomachia.

Source: Galley received from publisher for review

Review quote

Finalist for the 2013 William C. Morris Award for a YA Debut School Library Journal Best of Children's Fiction 2012 Library Journal Best Books 2012: Young Adult Literature for Adults Kirkus Reviews Best of Teen's Books 2012 Booklist Books for Youth Editors' Choice 2012 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best List 2012 An Amazon Top 20 Teen Book of 2012 An ABA Top 10 Kids' Indie Next List Pick, Summer 2012 An ABC New Fall Voices List selection An Indie Bestselling Novel A New York Times Bestselling Novel Christopher Paolini, New York Times bestselling author of Eragon "Beautifully written, well-rounded characters, and some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy for a long while. An impressive debut novel; I can't wait to see what Rachel Hartman writes next." Naomi Novik, New York Times bestselling author of the Temeraire series: "A book worth hoarding, as glittering and silver-bright as dragon scales, with a heroine who insists on carving herself a place in your mind." Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author of the Beka Cooper series: "Seraphina is strong, complex, talented--she makes mistakes and struggles to trust, with good reason, and she fights to survive in a world that would tear her apart. I love this book!" Alison Goodman, New York Times bestselling author of Eon and Eona "A wonderful mix of thrilling story, fascinating characters, and unique dragonlore. I loved being in Seraphina's world!" Ellen Kushner, World Fantasy Award-winning author: "Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about dragons, it turns out there is, and plenty! Rachel Hartman's rich invention never fails to impress--and to convince. It's smart and funny and original, and has characters I will follow to the ends of the earth." " "The Washington Post, July 3, 2012: "Full of grace and gravitas. Readers loath to turn the last p