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 Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.
I must admit this was my first real fantasy book, because I’m guessing Harry Potter doesn’t count, right?
Hartman has created an amazing world in which dragons and humans live side-by-side, seemingly harmoniously. They have not fought for decades, yet there is a simmering distrust between them which begins to boil over after the suspicious death of a member of the royal family. As Seraphina attempts to solve the mystery with Prince Lucian she learns more about herself and her ‘condition’. You see, Seraphina is half-dragon, half-human.
Dragons and humans are drastically different, yet each species is both fascinated and revolted by the other. On one hand there are the cold, scientific, objective and analytical dragons who consider emotions a destructive burden which must be controlled, not in control. On the other hand there are the emotive and, at times, reckless humans. When both of these worlds collide, something remarkable happens.
Both of these species have a choice; they can either continue to fear each other, allowing fear to manifest as hate, or accept and learn from each other. My favourite personalities throughout the book were those who were prepared to discover and learn.
Hartman explores so many themes within the novel that, to me, it felt like so much more than a fantasy. Seraphina’s struggle with self-acceptance and acceptance within the community was touching and wasn’t simplified for a teenage audience. This is something which I am sure many teens struggle with and therefore could relate to. The second major theme of the book – the question of what makes us human was intriguing. Is it really only the breadth of our emotions that separates us from other species?
The world-building was flawless in my eyes. The detail involved was mind-blowing. My only problem? I really wanted a map to see this amazing world spreading out across the page.
The characters, however, were not flawless. They made mistakes. They fell in love. They let their emotions go a little cray-cray.They got angry. They got sad. They got scared. They were real.
The writing was phenomenal and I don’t mind admitting that I had to look up the meaning of quite a few words.
In short: you should read this book. I really can’t say much more than that.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.com