Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
5/5 stars
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012
451 pages
YA Fantasy

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I didn't know much about this book other than that it featured dragons which was reason enough for me to read it. As popular as dragons are, I still have not read much fiction with them. I had also seen several positive reviews of the book, albeit with some cautions about a slow beginning.

So recently I picked the book up and was soon consumed by the world created and especially the characters. I just loved them all so much and I really want to underscore that as I don't always have such a powerful positive reaction to characters. Of course there is main character Seraphina, half-human, half-dragon, who reminded me very strongly of Alanna from Tamora Pierce's series, perhaps because of the deception both must perform to maintain their place at court. Seraphina is not even supposed to exist, living in a country where humans and dragons maintain an uneasy peace. She must keep her dragon parts tightly under wraps even as the two world collide and she possesses a unique mindset to maintain that peace. Because of her covert way of life, Seraphina often lies, trying to maintain the masquerade; although this usually bothers me in a character, I completely understood her reasons and strongly sympathized with her.

After Seraphina, we have her uncle Orma, a dragon secretly masquerading as a human. He has served as her teacher and mentor and serves as our prime insight into the mind of dragons. They're kind of like Vulcans, with an emphasis on logic and pursuit of knowledge while despising human emotions like love, and Orma seriously reminded me of Spock in his careful way of speaking as well as his confusion over the human world. The other major character I have to mention is Prince Lucian Kiggs, who I pictured as Richard Armitage in North and South-sawoon, captain of the Queen's Guard and betrothed to the princess-heir but whose mind is dangerously perceptive to Seraphina's secrets and lies. I realize that of the three characters I mention, I also compared them to others, which I find to be a good thing. They're not exact copies; they just elicit positive comparisons to characters I already love in one way or another.

As for pacing, I can see some people finding parts slow, especially those who generally don't like fantasy. I did struggle with some of the names and new words, being unsure of pronunciation. But I am also comfortable with a slow pace so I can't really comment on that section. I can say that I thought information was doled out at a pretty appropriate pace and I don't have any complaints. It was maybe a bit on the long side but since fantasy has a lot to establish, I am understanding of that.

You may notice that I didn't share much about the plot. That was intentional as I don't want to accidentally reveal any of the many twists and turns. There are so many more great characters I didn't mention as I don't want spoilers and just a lot packed into this book. I am very excited for the next book.

Overall: Pretty dang perfect fantasy!

Cover: Not my favorite-I tend to like bold, bright covers that catch the eye. This seems more muted although I'd have to see it in person to really judge properly.


  1. I just got this book and can't wait to start it. I have heard such wonderful things and your review makes me anticipate it more. I think it sounds like an original fantasy and I love that she is part dragon. I also love that the characters reminded you of other characters you like. I will definitely be keeping Richard Armitage in mind will reading about Prince Lucian :)

    Have you read Jaqueline Carey's Dragon's Keep? That involves secrets about the heroine and dragons as well. It has been a few years since I read it but I thought it was pretty good in 2007 anyway.

  2. I cannot wait to read this one - it sounds amazing. Thanks for keeping your review spoiler free!

    - Jessica @ Book Sake

  3. I'm not such a huge fantasy fan, but I just read and loved Finnikin of the Rock, so maybe it's a whole new me!
    Thanks for a great review!

  4. Sounds good! I've not read much about dragons either, so thanks for review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  5. I'm actually reading this one right now, and I'm really liking it so far! I've heard a TON of great things, and I'm glad that it ended up being a stellar read for you! :)

  6. Twists and turns!? Aaah I so should have requested this when I had the chance! I was scared away by the high page count, but every review I've read for this book has had me kicking myself for that decision. I love your comparisons to other characters, btw, especially the Spock one. It gives me a great idea of what these people are like.

  7. I'm comfortable with a slow pace as well and I like that Seraphina is book that takes the time to really build a world. Gorredd was so vivid to me. I like that you picture Lucian as Richard Armitage, ha ha I can definitely see it.

  8. I'm really excited to read this one. I've heard many great reviews. I'm not so sure about the whole "dragons" thing but I'm hoping I'll enjoy it. Thanks for the review. :)


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