Monday, 16 July 2012
Author: Rachel Hartman
Genre: YA, High Fantasy, Dragons
Source: ARC provided to me by JessHeartsBooks and to her by the folk at Doubleday
Publication Date: 19th July 2012 (UK), 10th July 2012 (US)
Synopsis: 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 . . . (taken from the Amazon.co.uk page).
When Jess told me about this book that she'd received which was a high fantasy debut with dragons in it I was pretty intrigued. When she mentioned that Tamora Pierce (my literary idol and creator of over half the female characters I would kill to be) had blurbed this book and raved over it then I was all "sign me up to read it stat!" So after Jess had to have a parting of ways with the book due to to personal differences I offered to give it a home and review it as an additional thank-you.
I have to admit to reading it twice *ahem three times*. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a notorious re-reader but the books that get read more than once in the same year are the ones that you know are fantastic and are to be foisted upon anyone who you think will like them. (I'm not going to press-gang reluctants but if you look even slightly interested you *are* going to find yourself reading this book).
With Seraphina you are plunged into the prologue which introduces us to two of the main characters and a whole host of questions that get answered as the book progresses. In just three pages you are drawn to the infant Seraphina and immersed in a rich world that promises to become exponentially more detailed and fascinating with each turn of the page.
Rachel Hartman has done a fantastic job of creating the world in this book; it's vast and has several layers of complexity. There's a well-developed society with religion, politics (heck religious politics), and such a depth of history as you can believe that this world has been living in a somewhat shaky peace with the dragon population for the last fourty years.
And that's another fantabulous element of this book; the dragons. The concept of dragons which can take human form is brilliant and it's shown off so well in the book with characters like Eskar and Basind who although they may look the same as everyone else think so differently and view the world in such an alien way that it's almost chilling how they consider humans. Also what I found fascinating was the detail put into the Dragon's society and their philosophy of Ard and keeping all emotions out of their lives. It's been a long time since I've read a fantasy book with that level of world development.
My favourite thing about Seraphina was the lady herself. As a character she is flawed in that beautifully human way but she's so relatable and likeable that you can't help but want to cuddle her when she's having a grumpy or sad moment. You feel along with her when she fights to keep her secrets and emotions in check and it makes your heart soar when she finds out that she's not quite as alone in her plight as she thought. She's also funny and snarky and made me chuckle on various occasions throughout the book. Seraphina is kind of girl I would love to be friends with; she's loyal and would literally chuck herself into danger for those she cares about.
The rest of the characters are a fabulously vibrant bunch of folk; with Orma's oddities, Glisselda's bubbliness and Lucian's Kiggs-ness they all come alive in the book and any author that can make me care a whole damn lot of a group of fictional characters is definitely on the way to becoming favourite of mine.
Overall the book is a cracking debut, with some beautiful writing, a fantastic cast of characters, and a compelling story that ends neatly enough that you're not left dangling off a cliff-hanger but with just-enough left undone to have you slavering for a sequel (and I am already getting antsy wanting to know what's going to happen!). So if you want a fantasy read that can give you a bit of everything with dragons to boot then get your hands on a copy of Seraphina this summer.
My Rating: 4.5 out 5 Stars!
Also just as a final note I got to admit that I prefer the US cover of Seraphina, it's very similar to the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik and the line drawings are vair cool. I will probably buy a finished copy of the US edition next month when I'm in Florida.
So there you have it! My first written review in months and months! I hope it's not entirely useless and let me know what you guys think!
Speak to y'all soon