Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina has spent her entire life hiding who she really is.  Although dragons and humans have been at peace for almost forty years, it is an uneasy peace.  Despite the fact that dragons, in their saarantrai, or human forms, serve as scholars, doctors, and court ambassadors, humans do not trust dragons - or the emotionless rationality of their logical minds.  Which means that Seraphina, whose father is a lawyer who serves the king and mother was a dragon in disguise, a truth that not even Seraphina's father was aware of until her mother died in childbirth, is an abomination in the eyes of both human and dragon.

Despite her father's desperate plea for his daughter's continued anonymity, music has always been her true passion.  Seraphina's gift for the flute has won her a position at court as the Music Mistress, assistant to the gifted court composer Viridius and harpsichord tutor to the young Princess Glisselda.  Which places her precisely in the middle of everything when the beloved Prince Rufus is found murdered - his missing head clear evidence of draconian involvement.  With the imminent arrival of the Ardmagar Comonot, the dragon leader, in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the peace treaty, tension in the city is already high - fear of marauding dragons and a rioting public is the last thing the palace wants.

When Seraphina inadvertantly rescues a newskin saarantras, Basind, from the dragon-hating Sons of St. Ogdo after Prince Rufus's funeral, she is inadvertantly brought to the attention of the Captain of the Guard, Prince Lucian Kiggs.  Grateful to her for helping avert a street riot, and taken with Seraphina's musical ability and quick mind, Kiggs seeks out Seraphina's friendship - and help in solving his uncle's murder.

Seraphina knows she should not get involved with Kiggs - not with his investigation, or his friendship, especially if she wants to keep herself, and her secret, out of the spotlight.  He is much too observant, way too astute, and certainly too devastatingly handsome.  Seraphina knows they can never be more than friends - she, after all, is not even human, and Kiggs is engaged to Princess Glisselda, who is the closest thing to a friend Seraphina has ever allowed herself to have.

This engrossing, old world  fantasy is not to be missed by fans of Kristin Cashore, the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini, and Laini Taylor's books.  With epic dragon battles, deadly conspiracies and courtly intrigue, family secrets, dragon scales in unexpected places, and just a smidge of romance, this complex world of saints, knights and dragons is one you'll want to add to your after-school pile!

(now savoring the last bits of summer with Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson)

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