Format: E-Galley (received from publisher via NetGalley)
To be published July 10, 2012 by Random House Children's Books
More about the author: Website
Goodreads // Amazon UK
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.I was so glad to receive a review copy from NetGalley for this book. Dragons and traditional fantasy was just what I wanted! How wrong I was in thinking it would just be a typical fantasy book with dragons. This book is so much more! The world of dragons created by Rachel Hartman is pure magic. It's the brilliant world that caught me off guard. Dragons are forced into their human forms to comply with a treaty created between humans and dragons with a few interesting side effects. Dragons are cool, calculated, and virtually emotionless beings whom humans are extremely wary of. It's because of this high tension relationship between dragons and humans that makes Seraphina's secret dangerous. She has dragon blood that gives her near magic abilities of music and visions.
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.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.
At first, Seraphina's visions did confuse me. She often visited her 'garden' in her head to tend to her visions and check on their subjects. This was probably the only confusing part of this book that wasn't solved for me until halfway through the book. Seraphina herself had me rooting for her from the first page. She's snarky and independent and had me behind her the whole way. Throughout the book the reader has the happy opportunity to discover more things about Seraphina and the effects of her dragon heritage, as she is no cookie-cutter heroine we know everything about in the first ten pages. I love how the characters were written. Along with Seraphina, even the supporting characters, especially Orma and Prince Lucien, are much more complicated than they first appear. There is a touch of romance, but the book nowhere near centres on it, but rather the relationships Seraphina build with the key players in the plot.
Rachel Hartman has a serious knack for world building. I really enjoyed her descriptive writing and the medieval setting, but what really gripped me was the unique world of dragons. I have read another book where dragons take human form, but they did not have such a rich history or relationship with humans as Rachel Hartman's dragons. I fear that this book may be passed by by many readers, but if you enjoy fantastic world building, dragons, and gorgeous writing then look no further!