Monday, July 2, 2012

ARC Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Rating: 5/5

Cover Impressions:
This cover is so beautifully intricate.  It is not the type of cover that jumps off the shelf but it is the type that encourages the reader to stop and study it.  I am already intrigued to see the artwork for the next in the series.

The Gist:
The kingdom of Goredd holds a tenuous balance between it's human citizens and the dragons who can take their form.  As the 40th anniversary of their peace treaty approaches it seems that someone is determined to tip the scales and renew the old conflicts.  Seraphina straddles the line between humans and dragons.  When a member of the royal family is found beheaded, she becomes an integral part of the investigation - if only to try and keep her own secrets hidden. 

Review:
Oh God.  These are always the hardest reviews for me to write.  I can rant all day about books that I hate, pointing out the slow plot, annoying characters and writing that would fit quite well in my stack of grading from grade 7.  Those reviews are my bread and butter, they flow through my fingertips like water, gracing the page with WTF's and FFS!'s.

Every now and then, however, I come across a book that was just so fan-fucking-tastic that I can barely put into words why.  Seraphina was one of those books.  The world building is complete and unique.  The characters are fully developed, sometimes flawed and remarkably human (even when they are not).  The writing is polished and elegant, begging you to savor every word.  The plot never lags or races but maintains a pace that keeps the reader enthralled (seriously - as soon as the baby went to bed I begged my husband to just leave me alone and go watch sports or something so that I could read).

Seraphina is easily one of my favorite characters thus far this year.  She is intelligent, talented, brave, vulnerable, and loyal.  She struggles with her own self worth and undergoes remarkable growth.  The secondary characters are also not to be missed.  Hartman has not allowed for one dimensional characters here.  Between the members of Seraphina's garden, the dignitaries at court and the dragons in human form, there was always someone intriguing to watch and someone else to wonder about.

Hartman creates a world that is wonderfully strange yet oddly familiar.  Though the people and dragons of Goredd negotiated a peace treaty nearly 40 years ago, there is still a great deal of animosity and racism on both sides.  The hatred and anger between these peoples was palpable and created some of the most tense scenes in the novel.

The writing in Seraphina flows beautifully.  The one thing that I did not enjoy (and this is a criticism of fantasy in general rather than this book in particular) is that choosing not to explain certain terminology in the text and to rely on a glossary is fine in a physical book, but I find it becomes rather tedious while reading an e-book.

This novel easily makes the list as one of my top books of 2012. Now, when is that sequel coming out???!!! 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

Age:
13 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Implied at
Violence: Death by be-heading, Knifeplay, Swordplay, Death by Poisoning
Inappropriate Language: Bastard
Substance Use/Abuse: Drinking of Wine

2 comments:

nerdybookreviews said...

I've heard so much about this book and I really appreciate hearing your positive opinion because after all the good praise I've heard it's nice to see it continuing.

I definitely think I'll have to pick this book up now after all the wonderful things I've heard. You're review as always made me smile.

I think you have a fabulous blog going off and I've tagged you for Liebster Blog Award: http://nerdybookreviews.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/liebster-blog-award-2012/

Keep up the wonderful reviews.

Zabet said...

Thanks NerdyBookRevew, I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to continue the story.

Thanks for the tag! I love to see my little blog get noticed!

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