Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Genre:  YA Fantasy
Seraphina Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Rachel Hartman's website):
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.

In a world of dragons and people, the peace has been bought with a treaty.  A treaty between a kingdom of men and a dragon who speaks for all of dragonkind.  And while this treaty is built on shaky ground, it's meant to become stronger as time goes along and both sides stop killing each other.  But with time, we find resentments and grudges don't disappear completely.  And there are those who would rather destroy the other side than look at them as fellow comrades.

Seraphina is the daughter of a lawyer, and she has received a job at court as the assistant to the music master.  She has her teacher, Orma - a dragon, to thank for honing in on her musical talent.  As she learns to navigate the court life, she finds herself the center of attention at a royal funeral.  All she's ever wanted to do is a have a life outside of her father's home and the limelight.  But as tensions with the dragons escalate, she finds she is well-equipped to help both sides find some sort of peace.  But can she do it before her secret destroys the trust she's gained?

This book is beautifully crafted in a world of dragons and people.  Dragons, who have intelligence beyond what any human could fathom and humans, who have emotions that give life color (something that dragons can't understand).  It's well built, and we have a protagonist who's trying to live life.  And with each decisions she makes, she grows a little and finds she has powers beyond the average person.  And these powers or traits make her special.  But she has to figure that out for herself.  Honestly, it's a wonderful coming-of-age story.  I just struggled with the middle-school feel and honest-to-goodness 'good' this book has (I can't figure out how to describe it - this book makes you happy).

Will I read the second one?  Of course I will.  And I'm going to recommend this one to any tween out there or person struggling with their identity.  I feel like this book helps you overcome your own negative feelings of yourself by seeing the beauty of the protagonist.

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