Author: Rachel Hartman
Review Summary: A fun, light read but one set in a
very unique unusual fantasy world and with a fast-paced, engaging plot.
A tenuous peace exists between humans and dragons, made more fragile by the murder of a member of the royal family – apparently by a dragon. The dragons aren’t quite like us or quite like the dragons you might expect in a fantasy novel. They can take a human shape, but despise all emotional displays as a form of weakness. Seraphina’s insight into the dragons’ behavior leads to her involvement in the murder investigation. This position has a high risk of revealing a secret she’s fought to keep hidden, but may also help lead her to greater self-acceptance.
In many ways, Seraphina is a typical YA novel: part fantasy, part mystery, and part coming of age story. I would, however, describe the writing as well above average. All the main characters and many of the supporting characters are well-developed and act believably. The pacing was perfect. Something exciting was always happening and I had a very hard time putting the book down, even just long enough to jot some notes.
Until I started writing a plot description, I didn’t remember having read anything like it before. Then I realized the plot reminded me a lot of Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elentra series. In both books, a young woman gets pulled into circles of power because of her ability to solve a murder and she has to interact with superior, shape-shifting dragons. The difference is that Michelle Sagara’s series is intended for an older audience. The world in Seraphina is less complex and the story is less dark. For instance, Seraphina’s abilities include playing music and understanding people instead of fighting, having underworld contacts, and controlling some rather dark magic.
I wasn’t reviewing books yet when I read Sagara’s series, so you’ll have to try goodreads if you’d like a review. Both Sagara’s work and Seraphina are very good books and I would recommend that fans of one try the other. Although Seraphina is similar to this previous work, it’s still unique among YA lit and I would highly recommend it for the great writing, well-developed characters, and fast-paced plot.