Thursday, July 12, 2012
Review of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Title/Author: Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman
Publisher/Date published: Random House BFYR, July 10th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads summary: "Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered — in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life."
You guys, I have a thing for dragons. Ever since I can remember I've loved stories that involve dragons, because they are just magnificent and powerful and there's just something about them that makes it easy for me to relate to them. It may also have something to do with Sean Connery's voice as the dragon in the movie Dragonheart ;)
So I was really eager to dive into Seraphina's world, where they actually walk among humans in a human shape, I mean HOW EXCITING! And risking sounding negative from the start of this review: it didn't exactly live up to my expectations.
I did really like the whole concept behind Seraphina and the dragonlore Rachel Hartman has created. Seraphina herself was a likeable enough main character, though not spectacular and I liked several of the other characters as well, I LOVED Seraphina's uncle. There was also some lovely tension between Seraphina and her love interest, who shall remain unnamed.
So, why do I say it wasn't what I'd hoped it would be?
Well, it was mostly that for me the plot dragged. I'm usually all about the long, epic fantasy novels, but I struggled through the 480 pages this one is stretched out across. For me personally, I could have done with something a little shorter and more action-packed.
I think this was for the most part due to Seraphina's lively inner world. She has to tend to her mental garden with different visions demanding her attention and I'm sorry to say that I got easily bored at the scenes in which this is described. Sometimes her inner life was so vivid that to me it wasn't always clear if something had actually happened or it had just been in her head.
I never connected to Seraphina, though I do admire her bravery and thought she was a solid main character, I just didn't feel invested in her story. I did love that music was such a big part of her.
I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this novel. On one hand it was a struggle for me to read it, but I was interested enough to keep reading and in the end it was worth it, because when we neared the finale the pace went up and I started enjoying the writing very much.
Also, while it is the first book in the series, the story arc was tied up nicely and there's by no means a cliffhanger ending, which I appreciate. I'm not anxious to find out what will happen for Seraphina and everyone else, but I do plan on reading the sequel when it's released!
My rating: 3,5 stars