Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman




       I don't know why, but I always relate dragon stories to action, war and bloodshed. Those are not bad things for me. I look for those things in a story. I don't mind goriness and bloodshed (in fiction that is. Whattya think I am, a psychopath?!) add to that a medieval setting, and I am sold. Seraphina however, turned out to be a lot tamer that I thought it would be.

 I can't exactly elaborate why, but this book had a J.K Rowling-ish feel to it. The way the scenes are laid, and the world building. Hartman, however, didn't make me connect with the characters as Rowling did. I've seen this in many reviews, people mentioning that they just couldn't get into the story. I share the same feeling, but the writing was too good, the world building too intricate for me to dislike this book. 

The story starts out slow, with random events here and there that explain the rising tension between dragons and humans in Goredd. Discussions about philosophy and description of music and instruments (much of which I don't know) certainly didn't help with the pacing. In short, if you are looking for an action packed, fast paced book, you might be disappointed with Seraphina. This is a book that puts court drama, relationships, self acceptance and what makes us human first.

If I'm so negative, then why did I give this a 4 star rating? Simply, because Hartman knows her shit. The world building was spot on. Hartman explores all of the details Goredd, even making up a religion. The fact that Dragons in Seraphina can fold into human form is very interesting. If you want to know whether this book has a message to deliver, I'd say it has plenty.  Hartman managed to brilliantly discuss discrimination. And I'm not talking about being the school's outcast, I'm talking about the kind of discrimination that takes powerful stands and revolutions and decades to get over. I'm talking about how someone can be fed hatred against another human being (or in this case a dragon) without thinking twice about it. There are many parallels to be drawn between the prejudice humans have against dragon kind, and the ones in real life. Racism, sexism, acts of hatred, etc.

The interesting this is, Seraphina is caught between the two worlds. She is both human and dragon. Dragons are supposed to be soulless, but Seraphina doesn't feel that way. And here is my biggest problem with this book. Seraphina's situation, her damaged relationship with her father, her loneliness could have extracted A LOT of emotion from me. I could have connected with her easily. I mean I tend to connect with vulnerable characters well, but in this case I didn't. I couldn't sympathize with Seraphina. I cared about what would happen to her sometimes, but that was it.

Even after putting my thoughts down, I don't know what to think about Seraphina. On one hand, this is a really good written fantasy. It has all the elements, including a good plot twist and a very well constructed romance. Oh, I forgot to mention the romance? Okay, well this is one of the best parts of the story. The love interest was great, and very likable  And Seraphina is the kind of girl who could make guys fall in love with her. Not because of her looks or charisma, but because she's smart. She's the kind of girl with a beautiful brain. You know what I mean?

Have you read the book? I want to ask you some questions to know your thoughts.
Note: Do NOT click the Let's Discuss button unless you've read the book. It contains a lot of spoilers.


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