Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Date: July 10, 2012
Genre: YA- Fantasy
Source: Book Fairy
From Goodreads: 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.
I’ve been stewing over writing this for days. I honestly didn’t know where to begin because it can be hard to write what’s in your heart when what you feel is just a big ball of love and light with no words. There have been many enjoyable books in my reading life, but very few that stay with me past the initial honeymoon phase after reading them. But this book, this little book…well it’s one of those books that move in. A small earthquake happened in my house, which is odd considering I don’t live some place where those things happen. Upon closer investigation, the rumbling was discovered not to be an earthquake but was instead coming from the locked book cabinet that is the top half of my antique secretary desk. It was the Favorites cabinet, and it was clearly shaking. The books were afraid. They felt it. They knew. They knew that one of them would most likely be leaving the over-full case because upon closing the book after the final word, we both knew that Seraphina had claimed a spot.
This book has dragons in it. Who amongst you can deny that when you hear tale of a story about dragons, your inner child’s little face doesn’t still light up with that dreamy glow of wonder? It’s about dragons and there’s a lot of magic in that alone. I could spend hours chattering on about the many, fantastic, little idiosyncrasies that add up to make the marvelous whole that is Hartman’s idea of a dragon. I forever picture them, studying mankind with their own, fake humanoid heads cocked slightly to the side in awe and bewilderment at how we are ruled by our emotions when to them the deciding factor should only ever boil down to what is logical.
“Do your people pass emotions through your blood, mother to child, the way we dragons pass memories? Do you inherit your fears? I do not comprehend how this persists in the population- or why you will not crush it,” said Eskar.
We prefer not to crush our own. Call it one of our irrationalities,” said Prince Lucian, smiling grimly. “Maybe we can’t reason our way out of our feelings the way you can; maybe it takes several generations to calm our fears. Then again, I’m not the one judging an entire species by the actions of a few.”
Seraphina was a marvel of a main character. Flawed from start to finish and hampered by society’s idea that she shouldn’t even exist, she doesn’t just overcome nearly impossible obstacles (like a trumped up female superhero), she does the bravest thing anyone with nearly insurmountable odds against them can do and that is to get on with her everyday life. Tied to both the dragon and human worlds, in ways she dare not speak aloud, Seraphina finds herself in a position to exert considerable influence upon some of the celebration’s key players. Her love of music, inherited from a mother she never knew, has led her to the royal court where, as music mistress, she keeps close company with the royal family. On the other hand, she coexists easily with the city’s dragon population, thanks in part to a loved one who saw to the more secretive aspects of her education. But even with the key role she ends up playing, Seraphina’s actions were never once focused on bettering her situation or easing her struggles. She was entirely selfless…save for that one kiss.
A beautiful fantasy, set in a rich world, teeming with extraordinary creatures, and a heartrending and heartwarming tale of self-acceptance.
“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”
I want that tattooed on my body.
A bit of a spoiler- highlight to spoil: Reading Seraphina’s thoughts and feelings on her well guarded secrets and struggles, I couldn’t help but to relate it to one I carry, and perhaps to one any of us carry. Maybe we’re not flawed. Maybe we’re not imperfect….maybe we’re just dragons. And I can live with that.