Author: Rachel Hartman
Publishing Information: July 10, 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Series information: Book 1 in a planned series
Format: Hardcover, 451 pages
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher
Recommended For: Readers looking for a very new fantasy tale rich with dragons, court intrigue, and excellent romance.
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.
I’m going to have to leave the summary up to Goodreads at this point because this book isn’t published until July 10, 2012 and I really don’t want to ruin it for anyone. I am SO grateful to have received an ARC from Random House via Netgalley! This review was hard for me to write because the book was so amazing I didn’t know how to approach the book to do it justice. So I decided to break it down as much as I could with no spoilers!! So here we go…
The world Rachel Hartman created was beautifully imaginative. I was honestly awed by the way she molded everything together. Seraphina is walking the line between two very distinct societies and social classes. Everything from the description of the clothing down to each dragon scale described was stunning. I was immediately captured and had no trouble imagining the world in which Seraphina lived.
I loved the characters though I do have to say that there were quite a few to keep track of and I did find myself getting a tad confused at times trying to keep everyone straight. First, Seraphina is extremely headstrong, independent and intelligent. I was very impressed by her character because she felt very real for me. Her feelings (or lack of) toward her dead mother really touched me and made me appreciate and understand her in a magnificent way. I loved the way Seraphina grew throughout the novel and came to trust those around her as she was wary to do her whole life. Prince Lucian Kiggs was so loveable to me. He played the “Prince Charming” character wonderfully and I basically fell in love with him from the start. He was extremely devoted to his family and his duty but also torn in his affection for the mysterious Seraphina. Orma may have been my favorite character. I simply loved him. He seemed tactless, rude and uncaring in the beginning and still, he won my heart. As the story progressed I could see how much Seraphina meant to him and it reminded me of Karou and Brimstone’s heartfelt relationship from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The secondary characters (found in Seraphina’s head and elsewhere) were so fun and interesting, I only wish we had learned more about them. Let’s not forget about the DRAGONS!!! They were gorgeous, mean, loving, and intricate and not at all like dragons I have read about before.
Unfortunately I can’t go into too much detail here but I loved the story throughout. I loved the interwoven themes and relationships. It was mysterious, romantic, fantastical and all things amazing. The romance in the novel was not at all instantaneous and fake. It progressed slowly through the novel and grew in a real way. Finally, I was so happy with the ending of this book. Things were tied up in a nice way so that the immediate threat was handled but not in a way that left the reader wondering what had just happened. However, I have to be honest and say that once I turned the last page I immediately wondered (and researched) if there was a sequel in the works, and it looks like there is!
I honestly can’t say enough about this book, from the breathtaking cover to the last page I was completely enthralled. Though I am lucky enough to have an ARC of this book I have already pre-ordered the hardcover edition.