Seraphina

Seraphina

Book rating: 05 Paperback Corgi Books

By (author) Rachel Hartman

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  • Publisher: Corgi Childrens
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 129mm x 198mm x 23mm | 265g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0552566004
  • ISBN 13: 9780552566001
  • Sales rank: 8,049

Product description

The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy. But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened...Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace in Goredd for good, finds herself caught desperately in the middle of the tension. For Seraphina hides a secret - the secret behind her musical gift - and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger...

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Author information

Rachel Hartman is Canadian and this is her first YA novel. She is also the author of a mini-comic, Amy Unbound.

Customer reviews

By Iona 28 Nov 2013 5

Seraphina is high fantasy Younng Adult novel, but not in the watered down way some young adult novels like to pretend they are high fantasy. This novel truly is. It has it's own religion, cultures, languages, races, places and more. The effort that Rachel Hartman put into crafting her world perfectly leaves you to realise your breathless.

The novel is set in the land of Goredd where the crown Prince has been murdered by what appears to be a Dragon. Tensions are high because the anniversary of the treaty where humans and Dragons declared peace is drawing near, but if Dragons really did kill the prince it could mark and end to the peace that already seems to be balancing on the edge of a knife.

Seraphina, our heroine and wilful musician, is drawn into the investigation due to her deep knowledge of Dragons, but the deeper she goes the more danger she gets into as things about her and her family are slowly revealed.

Many people have said this book starts of slow, which it might do, but from the start I was so fascinated by the world and the characters that the pace of the book felt necessary to me and by the end I wished it would drag on more. Not a moment of the relationships or discoveries in this novel felt rushed. Everything had a very natural pace at which things were revealed so that you never saw them coming but they made sense all the same.

I loved how Hartman developed her characters. None of them felt like stock YA characters that just filled the gap. Seraphina was strong willed and intelligent, always searching for answers. Her passion for her music was endearing and beautiful but at the same time she was a very flawed character. Her self-loathing was not something I often come across in YA or fantasy novels. Teenage girls are stereotypically a bit insecure in YA but Seraphina had a level of loathing I connected to because I had also been like that at her age due to the opinions of others (but for different reasons obviously) and for that it made me feel incredibly protective of her as a character.

Another thing I didn't find with this book that I find with other YA is that she didn't lose her voice in my head. Sometimes YA authors make their first person characters so nondescript and lacking in personality that I feel like it's my own voice narrating, but then that makes the entire story arch of the character and their struggles pointless because they aren't my struggles and so I don't feel any sympathy or empathy for the character like I did with Seraphina.

The characters around her were also more than just people for her to interact with. The love interest was kind, caring and bound to his honor in a way that sometimes made his interactions with Seraphina infuriating but understandable. He had issues in his past but not ones that turned him into a moper every chance he got to talk about them (this is what I call Edward Cullen syndrome). He also had his fun moments and even though I didn't fall for him as a character I could see the slow, bittersweetness of him and Seraphina falling in love and it broke my heart constantly.

Orma was strong even though he constantly questioned his own sanity due to his actions going against his nature. Glisselda could have easily been bratty or mean but she was lovely, if a bit naive from time to time, as well as beautiful and had some real character development through out. I'm really interested in seeing the woman she will become over the next books.

The writing was beautifully descriptive without ever sounding to wordy or ridiculous. It sounded wonderful in my head while still sounding like Seraphina's voice which was also perfect for her character because the words almost had a lyrical quality that fit so well with her musical gift.

The best thing in this book for me was that I never guessed the outcome of anything. Unlike books like Cinder, where there's something that's a little info-dumpy so it sticks out and becomes an obvious plot point, things in Seraphina relieved themselves when they were ready to because Hartman didn't decide you needed to know some stuff and then tell you too much, she just decided to reveal things when the characters found them out or when they naturally would be talked about. This meant the whole book had a very mysterious feel to it and kept me enthralled through out.

By SkeletonOrchid 25 Jun 2013 5

Hellow,
What dragged me to this? Well dragons, should I say more?
There is a couple of subjects that make books a must read for me, and dragons is one of them, if not the most important one. And you have to agree, this cover is just gorgeous for a medieval setting book. So perfect *.*
The first thing that impressed me was the writing, it is almost lyrical although very dense, but not in a boring way, it is that rich kind of dense that is quite descriptive but leaves you with something to be guessed, it has mystery about it, it's almost languid, in a way that it involves you in this world and leaves you wanting to know more.
Goredd is a great fantasy world ,imagine a great historical book set on the medieval times with a twist of fantasy on it, being this, dragons, of course it could not go wrong, at least for me. Specially when this dragons are different from anything you ever read, you get to know their culture, the political intrigues, not only between them, but with humans too, and most important , at least for me, was getting to know the struggle that it is for them to understand the human culture and deal with feeling while searching for knowledge.
The conversations between the characters address subjects like philosophy, art, religion and so on in a very well put together way, that makes me want to have tea with them and chat for hours on real life.
That being said I think this is one of the most important features about this book, it seems realistic enough to keep me engaged, it is something I would like to experience, it's like I am reading about the past, although I know the real deal was not so amazing.
Seraphina must be my favourite female character in a while, she is everything I admire in a heroine with a great touch of reality, she can be cranky(like a lot) ,she makes mistakes , she is very stubborn and gets played by other characters and still she suffers without being annoying(this is a big point, most YA heroines are winy creatures), that mostly comes from knowing sacrifice and loneliness ,but gratitude and will power too.
Half-dragons were a surprise and a good one, although I am still hoping Seraphina would evolve or change at will to a mini dragon I really liked all the different evolutions that resulted of the humans+dragons relationships.
Even this damn triangle is amazing, and believe me, love triangles are one of my greatest pet peeves. But I just can't hate Princess Glisselda, she's such a strong character and evolves in such a great way with the plot that I just can't decide if she or Seraphina should find another love interest throughout the story.
Kiggs on the other way was not of my liking, unfortunately he seems to be a lot weaker that Seraphina and she seems to lead the romance, and I would prefer him to be the one leading her on the webs of passion.
Seraphina itself being half dragon has some issues with feelings, that was interesting, special when you see her falling in love, although I would like to see a bit more of internal struggle with it, she seems to give herself too soon.
I can't even hate the villains, truth must be said, most of this characters have their share of good and evil, and they have they're own reasons to believe something is right or wrong, and that is a great way of seeing that they are all very well written.
I have to say that this must be my favourite YA I read this year. With that said I must point out that although I read a lot of YA books, I have a hard time loving one as much as I love this one.
What I seek mostly in the YA genre is a plot that does not focus mostly on sex on intervals of every 10 pages or less, but ,most of the times I get disappointed with the younger books because they lack emotion or adventure, and the romance mostly feels like teenage obsession rather than real love, and believe me , I understand that most of people don't have the luck of finding they're soul mate at all , much less when they are less then 25 years old, but plots can be very focused on this and most of the times the author looses the true essence of the story while getting carried away on the couple part.
Seraphine had this "amazingness" factor about it, and that, lays mostly on the fact that the romance plays a part of the book, but that is it, the book itself it's a lot more about the self growth of the main character as a woman and a political weft on this celebration rather than the love part.
This will be something I will re-read a lot on the future, no doubt.

Dear Hartman, thank you a lot, I will be an avid reader on the near future.

Regards
Yours sincerely,
Skeleton Orchid

By Karen Gold 19 Jun 2013 5

Such a new perspective on dragons and a world that draws you in! I loved it...

Review quote

"Seraphina is a quick-paced read, and while the story does pause at times for introspection, it never stalls or grinds to a halt ... It's a tale well told, the author's writing hitting a real high whenever music is involved. Here, her prose verges on the poetic; beautiful, often haunting, descriptions abound ... In Seraphina, Rachel Hartman has created a likeable, gutsy heroine, one who isn't flawless or afraid to make mistakes." Starburst magazine "Hartman proves dragons are still fascinating in this impressive high fantasy ... Equal parts political thriller, murder mystery, bittersweet romance, and coming-of-age story, this is an uncommonly good fantasy centered upon an odd but lovable heroine ... Fantasy readers young and old who appreciate immersion into a rich new culture will not mind the novel's slow build, especially as it takes wing and hurtles toward the stratosphere. This is an exciting new series to watch." Booklist "Hartman's splendid prose debut (is) head and talons above the rest" Kirkus "This is a proper fantasy, with a feisty heroine and some truly splendid dragons...it's a beautifully told story, with some gorgeously surreal imaginative flights on a level with Alice in Wonderland - it has that dreamlike quality of beauty and absurdity...Seraphina is a fast-paced and skilfully wrought fantasy, a beautiful and original take on the dragon myth." Katy Moran "In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex and utterly original world. Seraphina's journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page" Cicely Loves Books blog

Editorial reviews

This is a proper fantasy, with a feisty heroine and some truly splendid dragons...it’s a beautifully told story, with some gorgeously surreal imaginative flights on a level with Alice in Wonderland – it has that dreamlike quality of beauty and absurdity...Seraphina is a fast-paced and skilfully wrought fantasy, a beautiful and original take on the dragon myth.