Seraphina by Rachel HartmanSeraphina by Rachel Hartman


byRachel Hartman

Hardcover | March 10, 2016

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A new vision of knights, dragons, and the fair maiden caught in between . . .
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 has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered. While a sinister plot to destroy the peace is uncovered, Seraphina struggles to protect the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance will make a magical, indelible impression on its readers.
Seraphina is RACHEL HARTMAN's debut. She lives in Vancouver.
Title:SeraphinaFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:512 pages, 8.54 × 5.83 × 1.62 inShipping dimensions:8.54 × 5.83 × 1.62 inPublished:March 10, 2016Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385668392

ISBN - 13:9780385668392


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing and Full of Dragons The last few years have brought us some amazing fantasy written by Canadians. Seraphina is devious, thrilling, filled with mystery and (of course) romance. I adored every minute of it! Rachel Hartman's first book in her dragon (infested?) world is wonderful. Not only do we have a strong heroine to view the world from but she is surrounded by supporting characters that are well developed and could easily carry the story themselves. I especially adore the Prince and Seraphina's teacher. Dragons Galore! It seems that I've read a lot of books lately where there is one dragon or a rebirth of dragons. Instead of there being lots of dragons there are very few of them. So it was really nice to read a book in which there are lots of dragons and even two distinct different breeds of dragon! Of course giving a world many dragons presents it's own issues which Hartman addresses elegantly. From the issue of how do dragons and humans interact, to the destruction a dragon falling from the sky can create (never mind if they are looking to burn a town to nothing), to trying to hide a giant dragon. As our dragons can take human form many of these issues are easier to resolve but not all of them. And I adored how Hartman handled the challenges that a large dragon may have next to a teeny tiny human. Inter-species Hanky-Panky Yep, there is a huge focus all on when dragons get it on with humans. All these nuances are touched upon in Seraphina, and Hartman even gives us a selection of cross-species (not supposed to exist) characters whom are both human and dragon. It's really interesting how unique each of them is. And I will confess that I now really want scales hidden on my body somewhere. It'd be even better if those scales could match the patterns of my pet snakes (lol). Seraphina herself is one of these born of a human and a dragon cross breeds and so we are able to experience the challenges of someone who is considered to be an abomination try to hide and exist in a world that is not at all understanding of their existence. I believe many who feel they don't fit into our society (be it due to race, culture, sexuality, physical appearance, etc.) will find this to be very relatable narrative. The Music Seraphina is an accomplished musician. There is a lot of talk in Hartman's series opener about how music is not just about hitting the correct notes; but also about being able to put soul and emotions into said music. Of course, our leading gal is the best around. It's wonderful to discover all the different (and unique) instruments Seraphina plays as well as what she thinks of when she is playing to create such emotion that resonates amongst the crowd of listeners with her music. If you are a lover of music I think you will really appreciate the amount of effort Hartman has put into the musical culture of this world. The Prince Royalty always brings in distinct elements to fantasy novels. Hartman has done a brilliant job of building a bridge to understanding her primary royal character the Prince. As a bastard the Prince is nearly as much of an outsider as Seraphina herself. Their interactions are just delightful, and the friendship that starts to form and subsequently become the possibility of something more is done with a gentle yet frustrated passion that I really appreciated. No insta-love or ridiculous admissions of lust or love early on here. Instead we are treated to a realistic (with dragons) picture of how love tends to evolve over time. While you may be attracted to someone that doesn't mean they are your immediate soulmate and I really appreciated the way Hartman treated this. The Mystery While at the beginning Seraphina seems to lack plot or a direction forward, this is resolved by the 25-30% mark when the mystery of a dragon, whom was thought to be dead, is discovered to probably be alive. It's not always apparent that this is our plot and mystery to focus on but by the end it's easily understood. And those moments in which there may not seem like a clear driving plot forward are some of my favourite as they are filled with character development and emotion that keeps me wanting more and more of our characters. All the Other Things! There are so many more elements to Seraphina that could be talked about. From the dragon slayers that are in hiding, to the politics of the dragon/human alliance, to the complex relationship between Seraphina and her father, to the treatment and intolerance of the humans towards the 'lesser' dragon species that has become a nuisance in their towns. I could probably go on and on about it all. Instead I'll just encourage you to read this book! Overall I cannot wait to dive into the second book of this series. What's especially exciting is that many people that I trust whom have read the second book say it's even better!!! Now I just need to find a gap to squeeze it into as I cannot stand to be one of the few who hasn't read it yet. Overall, I regret that it has taken me so long to get to reading Seraphina. I should have read it a few years ago when it first came out! If you are a dragon or fantasy lover then you need to read this book. It's YA/Teen but the story and world are so wonderful that I believe even that high fantasy adult readers will still be enamored of it. What's more is that this is a series unlikely to be made into a series or movie anytime soon as the production costs of the dragons would be very high. I'm always hopeful that we can keep a few 'special to the book community' series to ourselves. Not that I don't love the media created from books but it's nice to feel like us readers still share a few secrets from our non-reader counterparts. I believe Hartman may have created one of these, best kept to the written page, series. For that reason if nothing else this is a must read for all fantasy and dragon lovers.
Date published: 2019-03-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Entertaining This audio book was good, but really slow. There was a lot of description and A LOT of thought repetition, i.e. Seraphina’s feelings about herself were constantly hitting the reader over the head. However I did like the plot and the world building and the writing was excellent (other than the repetition of it). I won’t continue the series but I’m glad I listened to this book as I did find it entertaining enough.
Date published: 2018-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book! Honestly, it took me a few different times to get into this book, but when I did, I really enjoyed it. I was very satisfied with the end of the book and really enjoyed watching the main character, Seraphina, grow. She is a fascinating heroine, but yet easy to relate too and love.
Date published: 2018-08-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very nice A very charming and well written story. The world is very fleshed out and the language used is very beautiful.
Date published: 2018-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from amazing but maybe a little overhyped A much hyped novel that I finally decided to read, Seraphina came across as a little underwhelming. Not that I had much expectations before - prior to starting I only had a vague idea that it is an epic fantasy with dragons, and seemed much older in publication (that cover tricked me!) than it is. Seraphina’s story takes place in the kingdom of Goredd, where she is a human-dragon hybrid in a society that has had just 40 years of peace with dragons. If you are thinking about the mechanics of such a conception, worry not - the dragons can shift to human forms called saarantrai when they want to enter human society. The two species are vastly different - humans are, well, temperamental, prone to making decisions on emotions rather than logic and quite judgemental. Dragons, for their part, are an advanced species, logical to a fault, and uncaring of emotions, and utterly disrespectful when it comes to human customs. In the past, they waged a war with the humans for the hunting grounds that became human kingdoms, but in this relatively newer peace of four decades, tensions are rising again now that the leader of the dragons is about to sit the kingdom that forged the truce. The major arc of the novel is very political - there are forces, internal and external that don’t see a point to the peace. Seraphina, for her part, has stayed out of court politics, but now that she has been made assistant to the court musician (and the unfortunate one who has to arrange ALL the entertainment at the palace) and teacher to the younger princess, she is unwillingly drawn into it. Also, there is the bastard prince (who is also fiance to the young princess) who is continuously amazed by her bravery and keeps thinking she is doing it out of civic duty or something. So, she is trying to hide her dragon part, while also helping out her dragon uncle find the perpetrator to the crime of killing the older prince, and trying to also defy her father who always forbade her from pursuing her musical talents. She embodies some aspects of a biracial identity in that she passes for human, and yet because of her status as belonging to both humans and dragons, understands and bridges the gap between them. The novel is not all court intrigue and seriousness, though. It also has lighter moments like the running gag of everyone identifying her as ‘that Maid Dombegh who played so wonderfully at the funeral’, the dragons being confounded by any and all human emotions (especially the leader of the dragons who becomes convinced he is in love), her fellow musicians at court who are a little in love with her and tease her for trying to be as strict as the old court musician. She is adored by most of the people, yet she feels a bit alone - she feels insecure because of her dragon heritage and thinks that no one will accept her if they knew (which is partly right, because most of them are dragon-haters). There is the heartwarming friendship trio that forms between her, Glisselda (the princess) and Kiggs (the prince), which, while not exactly a love triangle, presents a similar obstacle for the slow burn romance between Seraphina and Kiggs to proceed. There are also some awesome half-dragon characters who save the day, and which I hope to see more of in the sequel.
Date published: 2018-01-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not bad but not great This book was alright. I was pretty bored until about halfway in when it finally picked up but I really never started loving it even though there were dragons. I liked the concept of the clashing people vs the dragons and having a few people in the middle. I liked when we learnt about characters being hidden mixtures but still just never...loved it. I dunno. I think I'll read the sequel but I'm in no hurry because the ending peaked my interest.
Date published: 2018-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Strong and logical but fallible female lead This would be a good read for fans of Robin McKinley and Diana Wynne-Jones. It has a strongly built fantasy world with interesting but not overly intricate mechanics with a non-human species that isn't too romanticized or sexualized at all, unlike the majority of female-lead YA fantasy I see. I found myself really liking and connecting to the female protagonist, Seraphina. She's strong and logical, but fallible and insecure in just the right spots in just the right way.
Date published: 2017-12-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting, but falls short This was entertaining and well-written; but I was far more interested in the characters than in the plot. I wish there had been more time devoted to exploring the histories and motives of the characters, and less time focused on music or political intrigue. Still, it's worth a read, especially if you have a particular interest in YA fantasy. 3 stars for a fascinating cast of characters (particularly Orma, whom I would have liked to see more of), and for a surprising relevance to today's world. An interesting take on racial tensions and intolerance in this fantasy setting. These quotes, for example, touch upon the themes presented: ... "Perhaps those qualities were what had enabled them to reach an agreement after centuries of distrust and war. Each saw something familiar in the other." ... "While they sat around waiting for the knights to grow old, a younger generation has been raised on peaceful ideals, scholarship, and cooperation." ... However, Seraphina's plot was extremely convoluted. Although it was decent entertainment, an interesting perspective, and I enjoyed spotting the real-life parallels, the book didn't go far beyond that and I often lost track of who was who. I'm still hunting for the right kind of fairy tale; Seraphina came close, but it fell short of being a solid read.
Date published: 2017-09-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing dragons! This book is great for fantasy readers who love dragons, and is unique and beautiful
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It was a good read This had an interesting take on dragons, and for a YA novel I was surprised to see how much I enjoyed it
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book This was an awesome book, full of sass, intrigue, suspense and great world building.
Date published: 2017-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable protagonist This would be a good read for fans of Robin McKinley and Diana Wynne-Jones. It has a strongly built fantasy world with interesting but not overly intricate mechanics with a non-human species that isn't too romanticized or sexualized at all, unlike the majority of female-lead YA fantasy I see. I found myself really liking and connecting to the female protagonist, Seraphina. She's strong and logical, but fallible and insecure in just the right spots in just the right way.
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Solid story, but missing something Great story, great political intrigue, interesting characters, fascinating world, but I would say this book was simply "good." I would recommend to fans of "Ella Enchanted," and similar fairy tales (though it lacks the same emotional strength)
Date published: 2017-04-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not sure? I didn't like this book as much as I wish I had but it wasn't bad, it was well written, just lacking in some sense.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating take on dragons! Hartman presents us with a world where dragons and humans have been at war with each other for a long time. In the novel, the two have enjoyed 40 years of peace, but some would prefer war. Dragons can take human shape and act as ambassadors in the human court. The protagonist, Seraphina has a very dangerous secret – she is half-human half-dragon, which is something both dragons and humans forbid. I loved Hartman’s take on dragons – very logic-based, mathematical beings who don’t believe in emotions like love. It can actually be very deadly for a dragon to feel love. I also loved that Hartman gave Seraphina a gift for music and had her join the court – probably the worst place for a half-human half-dragon to be. Be sure to check out this fascinating take on dragons and its sequel Shadow Scale.
Date published: 2017-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this! I'm not a big fan of fantasy novels and stumbled across this book by accident. It's a great read!
Date published: 2017-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great novel Compelling characters and enjoyable story.
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This was an excellent book, great YA fantasy but enjoyable for any age.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Loved it, what a great read!
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Some of the best dragons in YA fantasy! I'm a sucker for a book that features at least one dragon, so naturally, I fell in love with this novel. Romance, heart-pounding action, and the most fantastic fire-breathing dragons I've read about yet - this book has it all!
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read A well-written fantasy novel with political intrigue, adventure, and dragons. Some of the most interesting dragons I've ever met. I'm looking forward to reading Shadow Scale. One book definitely wasn't enough. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting The characters and the setting are what makes this book charming. Especially the dragon YA, that was really cool!
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best dragons in YA fantasy! A book has me instantly interested in reading it if there's a dragon involved. This book is positively overflowing with dragons and half-dragons and even a strange kind of small, four-armed dragon with a lisp. The heroine is incredibly brave and talented, adding to the story's intrigue. Overall, it's a book I've read many times and will continue to read over and over again in the future!
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Here be Dragons This is a very interesting take on dragons, some of the most interesting of mythical creatures. In this story dragons are capable of taking on human form, but they cannot feel emotions and rely on logic alone. Seraphina is the first book of a very interesting duology, and contains a level of writing which supports the idea that you can have a quality piece of literature that is also fantasy.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting read I bought this book for my daughter and was lacking in something to read for myself, so I picked it up. I found it a bit long, especially for a tween to read, but it did keep my interest. It is a good story, with lessons to learn. I'm waiting to see what my daughter will think!
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Fantasy This book was very good. As a person who does not finish many fantasy novels, I actually really liked this one. The story was really well made and I recommend the sequel Shadow Scale.
Date published: 2015-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Seraphina My daughter read this book for a novel study project. After seeing some of her report I thought that I would try the book for some light reading and was pleasantly surprised by the high level of writing. An excellent story, great characters--difficult to put this book down!
Date published: 2015-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Innovative This book was a great read, could hardly stand to put it down. I loved the interesting take on integrating dragons in society!
Date published: 2015-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exciting, Fast pace, Enjoyable I really enjoyed this book, it was very well written. The main character was intelligent strong and fearlesss. I was pulled into the story from the vey first page. I cannot wait for the sequel.
Date published: 2015-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully -Crafted Fantasy In "Seraphina" Rachel Hartman builds an imaginative fantasy world where dragons and humans have enjoyed four decades of peace and are gearing up to celebrate the occasion in Lavondaville, the capital of the kingdom of Goredd. Although the atmosphere is unstable with the growing prejudice and intolerance within both factions which has increased since the death of Prince Rufus, Queen Lavonda and General Ardmagar Comonot, leader of all Dragonkind hold fast to the articles of the treaty. Seraphina Domberg, a gifted musician who assists the court's composer has reason to want harmony between both sides. As a half-dragon her birth contravenes the clause in the treaty that specifically prohibits any relationship between a saarantrai ( a dragon in human form) and a human being. But,when she's drawn into an investigation with Prince Lucian Kiggs to find Prince Rufus's killer Seraphina may have to expose her secret, if she wants to undermine the culprit who's trying to destroy the peace accord and bring war to the land. Rachel Hartman sets the stage for this well-written and fascinating plot in the prejudice and intolerance of a society of dragon and humans that is struggling to maintain an agreement signed four decades before. The dragon culture that wants to hold on to its past and yet maintain a peaceful co-existence has no tolerance for human emotions that often accompany their changeover. They've created Censors, a dragon agency to police un-dragon -like behaviour. Even the idea of a liaison between a dragon and a saarantrai is abhorrent and any child born from such a union is put to death. Similarly there is bias among the human faction who in their arrogance see the dragons as soulless and beneath them. In this unrest a Prince is killed, a mystery with far-reaching implications. With Seraphina and Prince Lucian's investigation tension and suspense mount with every twist and turn in this captivating plot. Heightening the supernatural aspect of the story are Seraphina's visions, her ability to mindspeak with other half-dragons and the memories embedded by her dragon mother. As tempers flare, fear grows and the possibility of war looms, romance blossoms between Seraphina and Prince Lucian as they find understanding and acceptance in their friendship. Filled with action as dragons battle, and the Sons of St. Ogdo stir the flame of rebellion, the intensity of the plot is often diluted with philosophical banter and humor. The characters are well-developed and complex, their doubts, insecurities and flaws fuelling the energy, power and passion of the story. Seraphina (Phina) Domberg is observant, guarded, brave and often reckless. A young woman who's insecure, prickly, lonely and shies away from making friends suddenly finds she's the center of attention in an investigation that could reveal her secret. Brave but reckless Seraphina's self-confidence grows when love and friendship is offered. Prince Lucian Kiggs the Captain of the Royal Guard engaged to Princess Glisselda is duty-oriented, intelligent and curious; a dogged investigator. Insecure about his birth, he's honourable and practical as he tries unsuccessfully to hide his love for Seraphina. Among the other colourful characters in the story are General Ardmagar Comonot the unemotional, clever leader of all dragonkind; Orma, Seraphina's sensible and loving uncle; Princess Glisselda the giggly but empathetic heir to the throne; and Claude Domberg a gentle, secretive but honourable lawyer. In "Seraphina" the author captures a peaceful world struggling with narrow-mindedness and hate that could bring it to the brink of war. For those that love fantasy and stories about dragons this is a page - turner from beginning to end and I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2015-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful debut read Seraphina is a half human, half dragon sixteen year old who lived in Goreddia. Humans must show their dragon counterparts that they’re superior so they tend to dominate over their scaley friends. The war has ceased, brought on by the Queen with a treaty. The Ardmagar makes the decisions for these dragons, and is basically in charge. Seraphina has these grotesque visions that haunt her, which she aptly give nicknames to. (I had an affinity to Fruit Bat!) As for the wonderful secondary characters I liked Glisselda immensely. Kind and friendly she always defended Seraphina and was loyal to her as any sister. Lucian Kiggs, Captain of the guard was just as wonderful. Good through and through, he did the moral thing in a world where deception was the norm. His friendship with Phina was cute and sweet, and you can tell why she likes him so much. In a novel, where world building is done well, and there are so many characters to keep track of, a list of character’s and who they are is extremly helpful. I took lots of time trying to memorize some characters names so I didn’t have to check it. Do I think dragons can be the next trend? Well maybe. It’s been trending for a long time and Seraphina’s dragons are the ferocious and vicious ones nightmares are made of. And I for one can’t wait until book two comes out so I can join her on her adventure. Beautifully written, Seraphina will whisk you away to a world where dragons are as ferocious as anyone thought they could be.
Date published: 2014-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Words cannot begin to explain such a splendid book When I first started reading this book, I was quite sceptical. I've always admired dragons and fantasies involving dragons, so starting off with this book I was confused. If you have a similar reaction, honestly, don't give up- keep reading. Rachel Hartman uses complex words(that if you don't understand, like myself, have a dictionary ready) and her own language describing dragons and the world around them. I was extremely confused for awhile, but after getting used to the language and words being used, I was wrapped around this book all day every day. I had to know what would happen next. I had to know how Seraphina's life would twist and turn and how it would eventually turn out. I'm hoping what I say next isn't a spoiler, so I will pre-warn just in case you do consider it a spoiler(my apologies!)... We learn from the beginning of the book that Seraphina is not normal. She had to keep this side a secret since she would be looked at as monstrous and probably put into jail for. Throughout the book, Seraphina slowly opens up and makes friends and eventually finds a lover through her adventure of self-discovery and acceptance. Seraphina struggles a battle against her own mind- a garden of grotesques- that end up meaning something more to her than just imaginary things. They enter her life and change it in such a positive and influential way. My words cannot put justice into such an intelligent and intriguing novel, honestly. If you're on the fence about reading this, please take my word for it(and everyone else's!!!). I'm stubborn and don't like trying new things, but I'm so glad that I delved into Seraphina's world and her mindset. I cannot wait to read the sequel!
Date published: 2014-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Happily surprised I've had this book sitting in my kobo library for ages. For some reason I didn't think I would like the book. I was very wrong. Fantastic, unique story. Characters have depth and character. Fantasy world is well planned and detailed. Couldn't put the book down.
Date published: 2014-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful What great characters. .. cant wait for the next book.
Date published: 2013-10-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book for teens and young adult I enjoyed this book very much. Themes about acceptance, self image and ethical conduct are explored. Thank you, Ms. Hartman. Sincerely, Jason
Date published: 2013-08-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Complex and interesting fantasy (Actual rating: 3.5/5) Seraphina was one of those books that I had a lot of difficulty deciphering my feelings after reading. On the one hand, it was gorgeously written, featuring flawed but strong and willful characters, and had an interesting plot. It was driven for its 450 pages, interesting, but strange. I think that’s what put me off it when reading. It was just a little strange. There were so many different elements in it that my mind was whirling, and they were all very strange elements too. There were these weird smallish dragon creatures that made figurines out of metal with their mouths, but they were stinky. Then there was Seraphina’s memory garden where she tended her “grotesques” that she’d inherited from memories. There was this gargantuan bag-pipe-like instrument, strange dragon tendencies that seemed both logical (like they were supposed to be) and bestial at the same time, something I had a hard time grasping. There were crazy church people in this Catholic-like religion with very unfortunate saints, and then there were dragons that shape-shifted into humans thrown into all of this. As you can see, this book has a lot of interesting features, but they all didn’t work together for me. I kept getting distracted by these side elements, questioning if they were necessary. Maybe it was just the mood I was in, or maybe other people have picked up on this as well. Aside from that, I was in love with the characters (as usual). Seraphina has a very compelling voice, and while she was sometimes a one woman pity party, she went through a lot of inner turmoil and came through better for it (as usual), but in interesting ways. It wasn’t this SUDDEN realization like in most stories that they have to change, right at the climax, and be the super brave badass heroine. Seraphina slowly worked her way up to that point, which I thought was exquisitely done. I also loved Princess Glisselda as well. She was an upstart, a little too energetic and willful for her own good, but a perfect secondary character that complemented Seraphina’s own quiet and thoughtful nature. The romance elements was perfect. I don’t usually say that about romances in most books. Either they’re too thrown together or just this slow burn of staring at each other and dreaming about each other insta-lovey-dovey-ness. Ugh, it was just so good. I kept waiting, and there was the perfect amount of build-up, and then bad stuff happened, and then good stuff, and then bad-stuff. It was so great. The plot was a little shaky at times. I felt at some points information was being thrust at me, like “Hey you, reader, figure this out really quickly and then store that in the back of your memory until it’s brought up again 200 pages later!” Otherwise, it was pretty good! In the end, I really enjoyed Seraphina’s narrative, the romance, but sometimes there were so many different things going on that I couldn’t keep up. The writing was amazing, but the dragons were very strange…
Date published: 2013-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth re-reading! The story world has a mediaeval European or British feel, with kingdoms, castles and knights. And dragons who can look like humans. The dragon/human war ended in a truce almost 40 years ago, but there’s still deep distrust between the two sides. As the anniversary celebrations approach, hostilities are increasing. Seraphina herself is a half-dragon, and that’s the source of her (and her father’s) shame. She looks human, except for a few scaly spots that she keeps hidden. She’s a biological impossibility, and an offense against both laws and morals. But the very things she thinks disqualify her from belonging may be the gifts she brings to keep the peace. This is one of those rare books that I wanted to read slowly to make the story last. The characters, setting and plot weave a rich and enjoyable tapestry. They feel real, despite being so clearly not of our world. This is a novel I will read again. Rachel Hartman has done a beautiful job of letting the characters struggle with issues many of us know intimately: belonging and truth. There’s no sense of a forced agenda or message-driven plot. The characters, especially Seraphina and Kiggs, live their questions in front of us, and we can relate.
Date published: 2013-06-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Seraphina Enjoyed the dragons and characters and will read the sequel
Date published: 2013-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Expect to be awed by dragons Seraphina is a girl who is half dragon and human and has to hide this from the world she lives in. We follow her path of self discovery, starting this chapter of her life by learning about her love of music, as the new assistant of the court's composer, Viridius. Seraphina lives in a world where humans and dragons have made a very fragile truce and are both enduring amicable relationships, but this is mostly darkened by hateful resentments and prejudices that both have against each species. This is an interesting immersion through everyday life of a fantasy realm of mythical creatures, tainted by bigotry and intolerance. There was a war between dragons and humans, and a treaty was signed by the Queen and the dragon ruler issuing a state of peace and understanding between them. However, it is described at the beginning of this story that not all humans feel comfortable with the actual status-quo of this agreement... and perhaps some dragons share similar feelings too. I simply enjoyed this tale. There is so much richness in this book, it is inconceivable that this other world does not exist, specially its details: history, treaties, gadgets, festivities, all of Seraphina's wardrobe, rituals, education, architecture, lands, colours, sounds.... it's an infinite list. Everything is very thorough. In sum: please treat yourself and immerse in this world where dragons and humans interact. You will have visited a wonderful place.
Date published: 2013-02-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good read A different take on the dragon genre, I look forward to reading more in this series.
Date published: 2012-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High fantasy at its finest If a book has dragons, it is pretty much a guarantee that I will be interested in it. Seraphina proved no exception. Not only is it a novel filled with dragons, it provides a whole new take on the fantastic creatures, ensuring that this is unlike any fantasy novel I've read before. Imagine a world where dragons can take the form of humans. Where they interact with us on a daily basis and are involved in all levels of society. Where they are no longer mysterious creatures that live far away in mountains and caves. Picture all that and you have an idea of what Rachel Hartman's debut fantasy novel is like. It's a fascinating look at these creatures from a whole new, uqniue and exciting angle. I really enjoyed learning more about the history of these particular dragons and watching them interact with humans and adapt to life within city walls. In addition to taking an old and established mythos and turning it on it's head, Rachel Hartman also gets an A+ for world building. An entire new world springs up within the pages of Seraphina. Not letting anything fall pray to unoriginality, Hartman creates an intricate religious system, a complex class hierarchy and a totally unique langauge. She then places a wealth of interesting characters in this setting and expertly guides them through a thrilling adventure. It is a recipe for a fantastic story and I am amazed at how well she pulls it off. Seraphina is an intelligent novel. It challenges idea about how society should function, ideas of class and power and how religion can be corrupted or used an excuse for unsavoury behaviour. If that wasn't enough the character of Seraphina is intelligent, resourceful and a quick thinker. She's often the one that saves the day or at the very least does what needs to be done. She's a fantastic female heroine and I can't wait to read more about her in the next book. Rachel Hartman is an unbelieavably talented writer. It's hard to believe Seraphina is her debut novel! I can't wait to read more from this fabulous new voice in the fantasy world. Final recommendation: A beautifully written fantasy novel that can easily be enjoyed by teen and adult readers. This and other reviews at Hooked on Books (
Date published: 2012-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Book to Treasure This is a book that should creak when it opens, because it exhales on every page and you find yourself sitting by a hearth fire as a fine old gentleman rubs his spectacles before he begins reading to you in the old way. And then his voice turns young again, like Wesley from Princess Bride and you are carried off to a place of adventure, your heart slowly stolen by character after character and your life a little bereft after you're done because this book has become a friend.
Date published: 2012-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review of "Seraphina" “Looking into Kiggs eyes, though I felt a little reckless. No: a little breathless” Review originally posted in "Save me a pavano." Seraphina by Rachel Hartman lives up to its hype and that’s an understatement. In fact, there will be no words to truly describe how beautiful ‘Seraphina’ is. As a teenager who aspires to become a successful and published author, I envy and idolize Rachel Hartman’s complex writing that immediately immerses the readers into the original world that she has created. The way Hartman’s passion for music played in the novel added a beautiful touch to the novel. Seraphina is half dragon and the plot revolves around attempting to unite two worlds: humans and dragons but at its heart, Seraphina is about a young girl who travels the path to acceptance and finding her strength within. Maybe that’s one of the major factors which makes Seraphina such a smashin’ success. The easy connection of readers to the protagonist, Seraphina: her struggles and her pathway to self-acceptance. “And that is when I know I will kiss him, and the very thought of it fills me with… well, it’s as if I have just solved Skivver’s predictive equations or, even better, as if I have intuited the One Equation, seen the numbers behind the moon and stars, behind mountains and history, art and death and yearning, as if my comprehension is large enough that it can encompass universes, from the beginning to the end of time." (My goodness, the beauty of that quotation) One of my favorite things about Seraphina is that it is not over-loaded with romantic notions. Don’t go me wrong; Seraphina’s tale will get you butterflies in the stomach! It’s just not centralized on the romance in contrast to other young adult novels. I found their romance level appropriate because the novel is still about accepting herself, not having a partner. "Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily." Hartman has such beautiful, lyrical writing that it literally leaves me wanting to cry– especially her beautiful poems for Seraphina’s songs! I felt Seraphina’s pain and it jabbed at my heart, especially at moments where she encounters her mother’s passed down memories—moreover, the memories that show how much her mother loved her father. Moments where Seraphina realizes that she is in love with Kiggs—to be completely honest, Seraphina is one of the only character who think to herself and I don’t find myself annoyed, in fact, I feel even more captivated. When she thinks about her mom, about being accepted for who she is, those moments where her heart flutters for Kiggs but Hartman composes that passage in such a vivid, heart-gripping way that I just feel my heart fluttering too! Especially when she realized she was in love with Kiggs. Oh my goodness. I could go on forever expressing the utmost beauty of this debut novel. "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." In general, Rachel Hartman’s complex, lyrical and absolutely stunning debut novel will definitely take her places! Count me in in all Hartman’s future books! P.S. I’ve found reading the novel, in fact, difficult in the first two chapters because I was unaware with the Glossary and Cast of Characters at the back of the book because Seraphina immerses the readers right into the world. So make sure you check that out! My other favorite quotations: 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. He was adorable and he made me smile, but I couldn’t let him see. (*Seraphina, honey, I feel your pain!) What comes, comes. I have made my peace with the past and with the future. Do what you feel you must, and do not be afraid. Emotions are addictive! They have no meaning: they are antithetical to reason. They fly toward illogical, non-draconian moralities. Happy Reading Everyone! Much love, Michelle Twitter: @MichelleMags
Date published: 2012-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review from Esther's Ever After Seraphina is a breathtakingly beautiful fantasy book. It simply sweeps you away into its own little world, and is a prime example of good fantasy. It's enchanting, reads like a dream, and leaves you pondering its story and characters after finishing it. I would say, however, to be cautious with what you expect with this one. It may not appeal to every reader right away, and takes some growing into. But it's well worth it for the experience, as it slowly grows on you and steals your heart. Reasons to Read: 1.A clever, intelligent heroine: One of my favourite things about Seraphina is that it features a heroine who's defining character traits include her cleverness and intelligence. There's so much more to her than just that, but it's clearly an integral part of her personality. And it completely shines through in everything she does - she's a little bit quirky, but totally brilliant. I love that we get to see a character like her, who is a bit socially awkward at times, but still fantastic in her own way. And the same thing goes for the love interest - we don't get constant descriptions of his eyes or body or overall good looks. 2.A mysterious plot, full of unexpected twists: I really thought I had figured the mystery out. I thought I had solved it not even halfway through the book and was less than enthused that the characters hadn't figured it out like I had yet. So imagine my surprise when I was wrong - totally, completely wrong. There are so many layers to the plot, it doesn't seem possible to guess it all in retrospect. And I was so caught off guard. But I LOVE it when I'm wrong and the book surprises me. 3.Bewitching secondary characters: I don't know how Rachel managed to do this, but she took cold, distant, emotionless characters (dragons) and somehow made them come to life. That's HARD to do, because of their (lack of) personality for the most part. But she succeeds. And not only that, but the rest of the cast of characters from Lars to Glisselda just lept off the pages for me. I couldn't get enough of Selda, and I was pleasantly surprised by how taken I was with her. 4.Rich details and complex storytelling: This is one area where I think some readers may have a harder time with the book and it can take a little bit of getting used to. The world Rachel created for Seraphina is vibrant, and overflowing with details. It really takes on a life of its own. I found the glossary and cast of characters in the back of the book to be indispensible while reading. But this is what made the world really come to life for me, and made me fall in love with the book. 5.Brilliant thinking: Seraphina is obviously intelligent. But I can tell that Rachel is, too. It takes a very thoughtful person to craft such a rich story, and I found myself questioning so many ideas and rethinking some standards I held to, and ultimately making comparisons to real life. I especially appreciated her twist on dragon mythology (nerd alert: I studied a little bit of this in some POLITICAL SCIENCE classes in university. I know, that sounds very odd, but it was incredible) and I could really tell that Rachel had researched this and had a solid background in it. Especially with the concept of hoarding. I LOVED that. That's not to say that I didn't have a hard time with it, because I was completely confused at certain times. The book is rather long for YA, and there are so many characters and words that I just wasn't familiar with so it took some getting used to. And there were a few instances where I found myself second-guessing my infatuation with Kiggs. He won me over, eventually, and I know it really wasn't fair of me to expect him not to struggle with a few things but I think I was really expecting better of him. And he did let me down once or twice, even though I know it's because he's flawed. Seraphina is just another reminder of why I adore fantasy - I love it to the moon and back. You have no idea what I'd do for more books like this one (good thing Rachel's working on a sequel)! E-galley received from Random House Canada for honest review; no other compensation was received.
Date published: 2012-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great debut! I've heard a lot of great things about Seraphina, so I decided that I needed to give it a try. Am I ever glad I did! I haven't really had much of a chance lately to read some regular old fantasy, but after reading Seraphina, I've realized how much I've missed it. Seraphina revolves around the upcoming anniversary of the treaty of peace between humans and dragons. All of a sudden the Prince has been murdered and it looks suspiciously like a dragon is the culprit. The protagonist of the story is Seraphina, a musician who works at court. She has a secret, she's half dragon, half human and nobody knows it, and she intends to keep it that way. She tries to blend in and be a nobody, but she still gains the friendship of the youngest Princess and her fiance, Prince Lucian Kiggs. Seraphina has so many secrets and is finding it hard to keep them all contained. She hides her scaly arm and waist beneath clothing, but how can she hide it forever. How can she keep lying to someone she loves. Seraphina is a very strong character, she has to be. If she lets anything slip, she could be killed for the abomination she is. She is adjusting to life at court and just trying to blend in, but her extraordinary musical gifts won't allow her to. She struggles to stay in the shadows, but when she uncovers a plot through her maternal memories, she has to help. The peace needs to be maintained and she might be the only one who can help figure out who is behind it. She struggles with her own emotions, knowing she's a monster and that no one will ever be with her. I felt so bad for her, always hiding herself and not letting herself feel any emotion. She is a great heroine and is incredibly brave. She puts everyone else before herself and I admire her for it. I really enjoyed reading Rachel Hartman's debut into YA. She has done a wonderful job creating a world of fantasy that the reader only wants more of. I know I will be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. There was only one thing that bothered me, which is why I'm giving this one 4 owls. I know there are a lot of books that just throw you into the story, but for this one I found the beginning just a bit confusing and it took me a little bit to figure out what was going on. That might be my fault though for not reading the synopsis very well. I sort of just glanced at it. Once I managed to figure everything out, I couldn't put the book down and lost myself in the wonderful writing. This is definitely a debut you should read if you enjoy fantasy, or are even looking to try the genre. Rachel Hartman will be an author to watch out for in the future!
Date published: 2012-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT! I'm going to start off my short and spoiler-free review on Seraphina with a very straight forward remark that I certainly hope you'll take to heart - If you don't buy this book and read'll certainly grow to regret it! This gorgeously decorated recent release by Rachel Hartman is one novel that packs a punch in the most unexpected of ways. It was suspenseful, mysterious, intriguing, incredibly enticing, AND emotionally uplifting. Can you imagine that? All of that in ONE BOOK! Rachel Hartman is, without a doubt, an incredible talent. Kudos to the gal for writing this novel! Dragons - I flipping love them! With that, it's no secret or doubt that this particular number would wind up on my to read pile very quickly. Diving into Seraphina I was quickly introduced to exceptional writing and a character that I will without a doubt love for the rest of my life (maybe even beyond?) The world building in Seraphina was exquisitely unique, as were it's characters, who even at times left me puzzled but completely intrigued. Completely slow building, Seraphina, and it's protagonist of the same name, slowly pulled me in deeper into a world completely different than our own, one filled with magic, fantasy, dragons, and so much more. In addition, what guy or gal wouldn't love to read a novel with all of the above in addition to action, romance, and the darkest of secrets?! Seraphina was a wonderfully written and joyous ride, one that I highly recommend to lovers of dragons, fantasy, magic, and completely pulling stories. Part of a book club? Be sure to suggest Seraphina as your next read. It's guaranteed to enlighten the most stubborn and iffy of readers; the Cupcake Queen promises ;)
Date published: 2012-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More Dragons! I have been reading dragon books for the better part of two decades now, and I thought I had seen it all. I had not. In SERAPHINA, Rachel Hartman went places with dragons that I never even imagined, and her human characters were just as wonderfully developed. I also very much enjoyed the roles that music, religion and love played in the story. Seraphina (the person) was an absolutely stunning heroine, Kiggs was a wonderful romantic foil, and Selda,'ll have to read about her for yourself! Suffice to say, very intelligent people working together will win me as a fan every time! I'm very excited that this is a series, and I can't wait to see what comes next!
Date published: 2012-07-11

Editorial Reviews

Shortlist - Governor General's Award - Children's Literature (2012)“Full of grace and gravitas, Seraphina’s first-person voice is a welcome change from today’s snark-infested YA novels. Readers loath to turn the last page of this lush, intricately plotted fantasy will rejoice in the knowledge of next summer’s as-yet-untitled sequel.” —The Washington Post “In Hartman’s splendid prose debut, humans and dragons—who can take human form but not human feeling—have lived in uneasy peace for 40 years. . . . Dragon books are common enough, but this one is head and talons above the rest.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred review “Hartman proves dragons are still fascinating in this impressive high fantasy. Equal parts political thriller, murder mystery, bittersweet romance, and coming-of-age story, this is an uncommonly good fantasy. . . . An exciting new series to watch.” —Booklist, Starred review “Establishes Hartman as an exciting new talent. . . . There’s a lot to enjoy in Hartman’s debut, from the admirably resourceful heroine and intriguing spin on dragons to the intricately described medievalesque setting and emphasis on music and family.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred review“Seraphina makes dragons fascinating once again. . . . While the book is full of court intrigue and (sometimes literal) backstabbing, the prose itself is an absolute joy. It's thick and rich without being difficult to read . . . . Everything about the book feels really well-crafted… Not one sentence seems slapdash.”—“Passion and musicality—those are the qualities prized by Seraphina, the fiercely intelligent, headstrong half-human/half-dragon heroine in Rachel Hartman’s debut novel of the same name. They also emanate from every element—from prose to plot—in this beguiling YA fantasy.” —National Post “Beautifully written, well-rounded characters, and some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy for a long while. An impressive debut novel; I can't wait to see what Rachel Hartman writes next.” —Christopher Paolini, New York Times bestselling author of Eragon"A book worth hoarding." —Naomi Novik, New York Times bestselling author of the Temeraire series "I love this book!" —Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author "A wonderful mix of thrilling story, fascinating characters, and unique dragonlore."—Alison Goodman, NYT bestselling author of Eon"Characters I will follow to the ends of the earth." —Ellen Kushner