Seraphina ~ Rachel Hartman

seraphinaSummary:  Seraphina is a young woman living in the medieval-esque story times of dragons, princesses, and mystery.  But, as the quote on the back by Eragon author Christopher Paoloni says, these are “some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read.”  This is true – the dragons in this story are nothing like you would expect.  Emotionless, incredibly smart, and hoarding treasure; those are some of the traits you would expect.  What you would not expect is that these dragons can transform into humans and that their government is a highly complex system (currently maintaining a fragile peace with the humans).  And most important to the story: that one dragon, Linn, is the mother of half-human, half-dragon Seraphina.  Because the news that she is a “half-breed” wouldn’t sit well with the rest of her town, she has kept her secret her whole life.  Mysterious murders and clashes between the two species make her life unstable and unsafe.  As the dastardly plot begins to unfold, with Seraphina right in the thick of it, she starts to stand out as someone who could either end up an outcast forever or be a tie that brings together dragons and humans.

Recommendation:  I’ve got to give you a disclaimer: this wasn’t my favorite book.  Although two of my friends read it and loved it, I thought this book took itself a little too seriously.  I only came across a couple of humorous moments in it, and those might have not been intentional anyhow.  Also, I wasn’t sold on the overly royal-sounding language, which felt overdone to me.  Then again, Seraphina is full of interesting and smart passages, such as this one: (by the way, Orma is a dragon) “Orma moved a pile of books off a stool for me but seated himself directly on another stack.  This habit of his never ceased to amuse me.  Dragons never hoarded gold; Comonot’s reforms had outlawed it.  For Orma and his generation, knowledge was treasure.  As dragons through the ages had done, he gathered it, and then he sat on it.”  When Seraphina made that connection, it struck me as very insightful.  The idea that a dragon would sit on books instead of treasure as a way of showing admiration for knowledge is not only amusing, but it also reminded me of the satisfaction of having books, either stacked in colorful piles or organized neatly in your bookshelf.  Knowing that they are just a hand’s reach away is a reassuring and happy thought.

Favorite Passage:  “When I reached the Rose Garden, I stared a long time at Miss Fusspots shooting aphids off the leaves with a very small crossbow.” (One of the few humorous passages I found in Seraphina.)

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