Review: Seraphina

SeraphinaRachel Hartman, Seraphina

The kingdom of Goredd is populated with both humans and dragons, who manage to live peacefully together — for the moment. Not so long ago, the two sides were at war, and even now, the peace between them is very fragile. Dragons are intelligent creatures who can take on human bodies, so they must wear special bells to differentiate themselves from their human neighbors. In this world, Seraphina has a secret that places her in a uniquely dangerous position: she is half-human, half-dragon. No one knew that her mother was a dragon — not even her father, when they first married — and Seraphina is dedicated to preserving the secret at all costs. She seeks to be invisible and hides the telltale scales covering her arms and waist. But when a member of the royal family is murdered in a suspiciously draconian way, she finds herself caught between the two sides of her heritage. As she begins to investigate the murder, with the help of dashing Prince Lucian Kiggs, she uncovers some unexpected secrets about her family’s past and her own identity. But can she solve the mystery before war erupts between humans and dragons once again?

This is a book that a lot of people love, but I must admit, it took me a while to get into it. I was intrigued by the world immediately, being a sucker for political intrigue, and I liked the unusual portrayal of dragons. In this book, they are hyper-rational creatures who thrive as scholars and musicians, but they lack human emotions and empathy. Nevertheless, some of the dragons in this book become more human-like the longer they associate with humans, and these transformations are a great source of conflict. I also really liked that the conflict between humans and dragons isn’t one-sided at all. Both sides contain extremists who would like to return to all-out war, but there are also moderates who want to preserve the peace. As I said, I did have some trouble connecting with the book at first, and I think it’s because an awful lot of information has to be conveyed up front in order to understand what’s going on. Once the story gets moving, though, things pick up considerably, and I really enjoyed the story overall. The sequel, Shadow Scale, just came out, and I look forward to reading it!

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