Thursday, May 31, 2012

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I loved Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. There is nothing original about the book’s basic description: a coming-of-age novel about a teenaged girl with a dark secret, who feels like a monster, who IS a monster, who meets a man she is attracted to but can’t have, who lives in a world where two different types of beings, humans and dragons, share an uneasy truce.

All the same, Seraphina feels fresh and original. The character development, the relationships between the characters, and the plot all took turns that I did not expect. The author does an excellent job of world building and getting inside the head of main character Seraphina.

In Seraphina’s world, dragons can take human form. The dragons in this book reminded me of Star Trek’s Vulcans. Dragons aren’t supposed to have emotions. When they take human form, however, they experience human emotions, and they find those emotions are hard to ignore. Seraphina is half human and half dragon, and beings like her aren’t supposed to exist. Seraphina’s dragon mother, now dead, married Seraphina’s father without revealing her true draconic nature.

Although there is a romance for Seraphina in the book, the most touching relationship is between Seraphina and her uncle Orma, a dragon who lives as a human scholar most of the time. Because she must hide her dragon parentage, they cannot be open about their relationship. He is not supposed to care if she lives or dies, but he does.

Seraphina is one of those rare books that I did not want to end. I’m still thinking about the characters and the world. The end clearly hints at a sequel. I’m already on the lookout for it. I read an advance reader copy of Seraphina, but I will definitely buy my own copy once it is available in July. (The cover art looks awesome.)

If you like fantasy, I highly recommend Seraphina. I know some fantasy readers aren’t wild about dragons, but I urge you not to let the dragons in this book put you off. They may surprise you.

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