Book Review – Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Format: Hardcover
Written: 2012
Published: 2012


I don’t really know where to start with this review (and that’s not a bad thing…)

At the start of this book, we meet Seraphina Dombegh, daughter of a lawyer father and a musician mother that she never met (her mother died giving birth).  Her teacher, Orma, did most of the raising.  Burdened by a patron saint who is a heretic, and a history that was kept secret from her, she is somehow the key everything.

She, more than most, understands why the peace needs kept between human and dragon.  As she prepares for the upcoming visit of Ardmagar Comonot, the leader of the dragon world, and the festivities surrounding the anniversary of the treaty that united them, she has to deal with more than most.  As an assistant to Viridius, the court composer, and personal music teacher to the princess, she’s got a lot to do to prepare for the big day.

Of course, trouble comes in many forms as well.  The Prince Lucian Kiggs is worried about the death and disappearance of his uncle, and the menagerie of characters in her head has rendered her unable to function without meticulous care and meditation.

Seraphina is a book about a young woman.  But it’s also a book about politics and culture relations and the underclass and the privileged and how they all get along.  Hartman has done an incredible job of setting the place and the people up so well that it’s like you, too, have walked the cobbled streets with your instrument in hand.

The best part is that nothing is overdone.  The world is set up to explain the politics, religion, and social customs that we need to know, through the eyes of a character that’s a little unsure of it all.  Because Seraphina, well, Seraphina is caught between who she is and who everyone thinks she is – and really, aren’t we all just trying to fit in and worried that we aren’t <blank> enough or are too much <something> for whatever? She’s out on her own, trying to find her place.  We can all relate to that.  And as everything is explained to us, we get it through the eyes of somebody who is just a little unsure of it all herself.

This, by the way, I think, is brilliant.  Because if you, the reader, don’t agree with any of their society, it’s okay, because the main character hasn’t shoved down your throat that the way it is…is the way it should be.

There’s a bit of a love story in this, but again, it’s not overly done.  I’m not the type of person that reads love stories, and I didn’t mind this one.

I think this is a good read for anyone into fantasy.  Four out of five pages.


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