Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

13160619._SY475_Series: Seraphina, #1
Pages: 530
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: July 1st, 2012
My Rating: StarStarStar EmptyStar EmptyStar Empty

In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

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This book has been on my radar for quite some time, as when it initially came out it was very popular on BookTube. I was curious about it: it sounded like an interesting story, it was getting excellent reviews, and the cover is gorgeous, but for some reason it took me seven years to finally pick it up. Maybe if I’d read this when it came out I would have enjoyed it more, but where I am in life now I just couldn’t get into it.

The story was fine. There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with it. In this world, there has been a treaty between humans and dragons for forty years. Still, the two races generally detest each other. As part of the treaty, whenever dragons leave their designated dragon areas, they have to assume a human form called a saarantras and wear bells at all times in order to identify themselves as dragons. Seraphina Dombegh is a half-blood whose mother posed as a human and tricked her father to fall in love with her, even though dragon/human relations were illegal.

I definitely think if I’d read this book when it first came out I wouldn’t be as bothered as I am by the manipulation on the part of Seraphina’s mother. Seraphina also struggles with this, but she resents her mother for creating a half-dragon, not for the manipulation. It feels very rapey to me and I think the characters overlooked that aspect in their shock at the merging of the two races and the fact that there were other half-bloods as well.

The relationships between Seraphina, Glisselda, and Kiggs was also bothersome. Glisselda is second heir to the throne of Goredd and Kiggs is her bastard cousin. The two have been betrothed for years and are obviously very close. We know that Seraphina is going to fall for Kiggs as soon as she meets him (even as soon as you read the synopsis you know it’s coming) and since this is told from Seraphina’s perspective we see her struggle with falling for a human even though she can never have an authentic romantic relationship because no one can know of her heritage. With as much as she struggles with her feelings, she never seems to consider Glisselda in this equation. Glisselda is clearly fond of Seraphina, is non-judgemental, and wants to help Seraphina acclimate to life at court, yet Seraphina doesn’t think twice about hurting her in order to get to Kiggs. Kiggs doesn’t seem to mind harming his cousin, friend, and fiancee either. Had I read this when I was younger I probably would have thought this plot was romantic, but now it’s just a betrayal that the characters are far too casual about.

Aside from the characters’ gray morals, there is a weird psychic element to Seraphina’s character that I don’t think was necessary. It was a cool concept, but I think it should have been a separate story. The race relations were an interesting enough plot without it. The language used was also far too confusing in my opinion, and I’m a 25-year-old English major. I can’t imagine reading this as a teenager which is the audience it’s geared for.

In general, I was just bored. This book took me far longer to read than I would have anticipated. It is a little on the longer side, but I just didn’t have any desire to pick it up throughout the day and ended up only reading it when I was going to bed. I originally rated this three stars, but that was immediately after I finished it and I was on a little bit of a high from the ending. Upon further reflection, I think it’s really a two-star read for me. It was fine. Some people like it. I am not one of those people.

_Tia

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I write, therefore I am. she/her pronouns

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