Steph Sinclair's Reviews > Seraphina

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
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Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Oh yes, Rachel Hartman. YES!

This.was.good.

I usually don't pick up many high fantasy novels. For example, I hate Lord of the Rings. Don't flame me! It's just that it's not usually a genre I mesh well with. In fact, I think aside from Seraphina I have read a grand total of two high fantasy books this year: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn and Eona: The Last Dragoneye. Coincidentally, all three have dragons in them. Hmm...perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something there.

Dragons?! Yes, dragons. I know what you're probably thinking. So, let me help you.


Who's a good boy, Toothless? I could watch him chase that little light all day. But, no, not those kinds of dragons.


Burn, baby, burn. Now, that's more like it.

Sixteen-year-old Seraphina Dombegh lives in a world where dragons have the ability to transform their bodies into humans and walk amongst mankind. Previously, dragons and humans have warred against one another, but for forty years there has been strained peace thanks to a treaty. The time arrives for the peace treaty to once again be signed and a member of the royal family has been found murdered. What's even more interesting is that it appears to be the work of a dragon. With Treaty Day swiftly approaching, Seraphina finds herself in the midst of the investigation, assisting Prince Lucian Kiggs in discovering the murderer, all the while trying desperately to hide her own secret: being half dragon.

A few things I LOVED about Seraphina:

The World Building:

I really have to commend Hartman because this is a brilliant debut and I feel very fortunate to have read it months before the release. She has created a very believable society and I can just imagine all the research she put into this crafting the religion, clothing, races, philosophers, customs, ect. Initially, when I first started I felt a bit overwhelmed because of the names and culture. It's just that rich. But once I got into the story, I was just amazed at how well constructed the world building was.

The Characters:

I have to say, I was not once irritated at the main character, Seraphina (BTW: awesome name!). She is very headstrong and determined. When she first discovers a plot to disrupt the peace, she does not hesitate to get to the bottom of things even if that means doing things herself. This, of course, is her strength and her weakness. Having to hide her secret her whole life has left her unable to trust easily. This directly impacts her relationship with her partner in the investigation, Prince Lucian Kiggs. But as the novel wears on, we see a growth in Seraphina and her ability to trust and rely on her friends.

My favorite character has to be a toss-up between Princess Glisselda and Orma. For secondary characters, I felt they were very well developed throughout the novel. It's kind of ironic that they would come to be my favorites since in the beginning I didn't really care for either one. They possessed qualities (or at least I thought they did) that I found ugly (rudeness, apathetic, tactless, and uncaring). I suppose this is just another cool point for Hartman's writing style and character development for changing my mind completely before the novel's end.

The Plot and The Pacing:

Simply brilliant. The best way I can describe it would be to say it's like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and dragon lore fantasy. I found the novel's length to be perfect for the pacing, giving just the right amount of time for relationships to develop, the mystery to be solved, and ending realistically.

The Ending:

Very well done! I never saw the ending coming and was left completely satisfied with it. There are some series where the installments feel more like a part one or part two of a story, but then there are others like Seraphina that could stand alone just fine. While I know Seraphina's journey is not yet over, the immediate threat in the novel is resolved. I really appreciated that. This novel speaks for itself and doesn't need to rely on a cliffhanger to keep a reader interested in a sequel.

Seraphina is definitely a book you should look out for in 2012. I, for one, cannot wait for the sequel!

Disclaimer: An ARC was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes and while Rachel Hartman is a GoodReads friend of mine, these are my honest thoughts on the book.

More reviews and more at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.

Please DO NOT click the spoilers in the comments. They are real and will ruin the book for you!
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Quotes Steph Liked

Rachel Hartman
“He did not know the truth of me, yet he had perceived something true about me that no one else had ever noticed. And in spite of that—or perhaps because of it—he believed me good, believed me worth taking seriously, and his belief, for one vertigi-nous moment, made me want to be better than I was.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“That’s the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you. If one believes there is truth in art – and I do – then it’s troubling how similar the skill of performing is to lying. Maybe lying is itself a kind of art. I think about that more than I should.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“He was laughing, silently, and then we were both laughing, and then something changed. It was as if I had been watching the world through oiled parchment or smoked glass, which was yanked abruptly away. Everything grew very clear and bright; the music burst forth in majesty; we stood still and the room turned around us; and there was Kiggs, right in the middle of all of it, laughing.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“We were all monsters and bastards, and we were all beautiful.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“I became the very air; I was full of stars. I was the soaring spaces between the spires of the cathedral, the solemn breath of chimneys, a whispered prayer upon the winter wind. I was silence,and I was music, one clear transcendent chord rising toward Heaven. I believed, then, that I would have risen bodily into the sky but for the anchor of his hand in my hair and his round soft perfect mouth.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

Rachel Hartman
“I felt lighter when I had finished, and for once emptiness was a sweet relief and a condition to be treasured.”
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina


Reading Progress

10/29/2011 page 4
1.0% "I love the name Seraphina." 2 comments
10/31/2011 page 87
19.0% "This is very creative. Wow."
10/31/2011 page 93
20.0% "Aww, I know who Fruit Bat is. ^_^"
11/01/2011 page 112
24.0% "Ahhhh!!! I had a feeling! Man, this is so good!!"
11/01/2011 page 163
35.0% "Seraphina, you are so funny. LOL."
11/01/2011 page 174
38.0% "Is it wrong to add quotes on GRs for a book that is not published yet? Because I just really love this quote." 2 comments
11/07/2011 page 224
48.0% "I LOVE Seraphina's voice. She is so witty!" 2 comments
11/09/2011 page 301
65.0% "Things are really getting complicated!"
11/09/2011 page 403
87.0% "The secrets! :D"
11/09/2011 page 448
97.0% "Aww, this is so sweet."
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Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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Catie Yeah! We may not have connected over Hallowed (or did we? I really enjoyed our conversation!) but I'm glad that we both love this one. Can't wait to read your review.


Steph Sinclair I also enjoyed our conversation. I can't wait to chat with you about this one! :)


Steph Sinclair Ok, Catie, so (view spoiler)


message 4: by Catie (last edited Nov 10, 2011 02:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Catie Orma was one of my favorite characters too! (view spoiler)


message 5: by Steph (last edited Nov 11, 2011 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Steph Sinclair (view spoiler)


message 6: by Catie (last edited Nov 10, 2011 02:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Catie (view spoiler)


Steph Sinclair (view spoiler)


Catie (view spoiler)


Steph Sinclair Hahaha! (view spoiler)


Catie Oh yeah, that's right! And that's a really important office in dragon society, right?

Man...why do we have to wait so long?

I really like what you said about this working as a stand-alone though. That's very true, and refreshing.


Steph Sinclair I know! I think we will be waiting until 2013. *sigh* Well, maybe we will get lucky and score another ARC of the sequel. :)


Catie Here's hopin!


Wendy Darling Hmm! You've made me more curious. :) I don't know if I can get over my fantasy block, though. But I do very much like dragons...


Steph Sinclair If high fantasy is not usually your cup of tea, you may find it difficult to get into it. But, like you, I love dragons and the plot kept me intrigued. I'd say to give this one a shot, Wendy. It may surprise you!


Flannery I like your "2 am or later" shelf:) I am seriously pumped to read this but I'm waiting for Jo so we can read it together. DRAGONS.


Steph Sinclair Thanks, Flannery. I know I've got a special one when it can keep me up well past my bedtime. :)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

This is already a strong contender for one of my 'Best Books of 2012' - and it's only January D: I really hope the adult fantasy world takes note of this, because it blows most of that market out of the water. (I should know; I've spent the last few years being consistently disappointed by every 'unusual' adult fantasy novel that gets hyped up by the likes of Tor.com)


Steph Sinclair Sean wrote: "This is already a strong contender for one of my 'Best Books of 2012' - and it's only January D: I really hope the adult fantasy world takes note of this, because it blows most of that market out o..."

I agree. I loved this book and I can't wait for it to be released. I don't usually buy many print books, but this I have to add to my personal library.


message 19: by L'Poni (new)

L'Poni hmmm, i might read this because the main character, Seraphina, has the SAME name as my African dragon princess Seraphina from Imp Empress. Strange...I might read this book. I'm not usually into novels that much.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I am so excited over the release of this book!


Melodramaticfool It's supposed to be for teenagers, but it's published by a children's book company...does that happen often?


Steph Sinclair Melodramaticfool wrote: "It's supposed to be for teenagers, but it's published by a children's book company...does that happen often?"

Yeah, they handle picture books, middle grade and teen books.


message 23: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim Great review, Stephanie! I am really excited to get my copy, very soon now I think.:)


Julie I read and loved this book too. Loved Kriggs too ;0)


Steph Sinclair Jim wrote: "Great review, Stephanie! I am really excited to get my copy, very soon now I think.:)"

Thank you, Jim. I think you'll really love it. Plus, DRAGONS! Lol.

Julie wrote: "I read and loved this book too. Loved Kriggs too ;0)"

He was amazing!


message 26: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim Stephanie wrote: "Jim wrote: "Great review, Stephanie! I am really excited to get my copy, very soon now I think.:)"

Thank you, Jim. I think you'll really love it. Plus, DRAGONS! Lol. "


I think so too, Stephanie. DRAGONS! :)


Melodramaticfool Stephanie wrote: "Melodramaticfool wrote: "It's supposed to be for teenagers, but it's published by a children's book company...does that happen often?"

Yeah, they handle picture books, middle grade and teen books."


oh wow! Alright :)


message 28: by Fera (new) - rated it 3 stars

Fera フェルナンダ waa I'm going to read it :D


Steph Sinclair Fera wrote: "waa I'm going to read it :D"

I hope you like it. :)


message 30: by Ali (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ali Well now another one to push ahead on my TBR immediately list! Check out my fantasy list- a few gems on there that you might like that I love. I also, am not a huge LotR fan in terms of the books ( loved the movies though)


Steph Sinclair Ali wrote: "Well now another one to push ahead on my TBR immediately list! Check out my fantasy list- a few gems on there that you might like that I love. I also, am not a huge LotR fan in terms of the books (..."

I think you'll really enjoy it. And will do! I could always use more fantasy recommendations. :)


Stefani This is the second stellar review I've seen on this book from reviewers I follow or are friends with. It's already on my TBR list, might be time to buy because I keep seeing a lot of praise for it.


Steph Sinclair Stefani wrote: "This is the second stellar review I've seen on this book from reviewers I follow or are friends with. It's already on my TBR list, might be time to buy because I keep seeing a lot of praise for it."

It's different from the usual YA books in all the right ways! I hope you enjoy!


Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer) I have it on hold at the library!


Steph Sinclair Elizabeth wrote: "I have it on hold at the library!"

Enjoy!


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

I have this book sitting on my shelf for so long ugh need to read this.


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