My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genres: YA Fantasy
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.
Encased within the covers of a book lies a whole new world of its author's making. A universe that--no matter what the setting: Earth, even your own hometown--is always different from our own in one way or another. Oh, the uniqueness and beauty of make believe.
In Seraphina's case, we're caught up in an unfamiliar country--full of dragons and other eccentricities; tensions and conflict; love and heartbreak. And very real characters with very real struggles, all woven together by Seraphina's hauntingly beautiful voice and Rachel Hartman's vivid descriptions.
I read this book in the period of approximately one day. In one day, I experienced the goings on in the kingdom of Goredd. I went through the struggles our beloved Phina endured nearly her whole life.
I feel like I cheated.
Even so, I enjoyed every second of this beautiful, imaginative fantasy. Shadow Scale, its sequel, seems too far away. (It's to be published only 8 days from now, but still).
Let me start by saying how much I loved the voice. The author's voice, Seraphina's voice. They could both be described by a word I'm going to use far too often in this review--beautiful.
Here the story begins:
I remember being born.
In fact, I remember a time before that. There was no light, but there was music: joints creaking, blood rushing, the heart's staccato lullaby, a rich symphony of indigestion. Sound enfolded me, and I was safe.
I was immediately drawn in; weren't you? But of course the lyrical style of writing wasn't all that captured me. Part of it had to do with the dragons.
Sir James waved a gnarled hand. "They're nothing but feral file clerks, dragons. They used to alphabetize the coins in their hoards.”
Even before my reading this book, if someone had asked if I liked books with dragons I would have responded, "Pfft. YES." After all, WHO DOESN'T LIKE DRAGONS?
But now that I think on it, I can't recall many books that I've read that centered around the creatures. Let's see...I remember Dragon Slippers. Oh, and does Harry Potter count? No? Well, that may be it then. Maybe that's why I put off reading Seraphina for so long. It was unfamiliar territory, so to speak. Plus, it looked like a pretty hefty read at 451 pages. Obviously, those turned about to be some pretty unfounded fears.
Because I devoured it. All of the creatures and characters(not just the dragons) lent something extra to the book. But most of my praise is reserved for our main character. Poor, lovely, brave Seraphina. She deserves to put on the list of Fictional People I Admire More Than Most Real Ones. *snickers*
I loved her passion for her music.
There are melodies that speak as eloquently as words, that flow logically and inevitably from a single, pure emotion.
I loved her in spite of her insecurities.
He did not know the truth of me, yet he had perceived something true about me that no one else had ever noticed. And in spite of that—or perhaps because of it—he believed me good, believed me worth taking seriously, and his belief, for one vertigi-nous moment, made me want to be better than I was.
Even though sometimes, she's a bit of an oddity.
Take good care of him, or I'll...I'll bite you!
In short, she's one of those characters you can't help but root for and sympathize with. I just want to give her a big hug--for enduring all that she had to, and for letting me live a few hours of my life in her head(oh, the places books can take you!).
I can't really find anything bad to say here. I found the conflict between humans and dragons interesting, the world-building to be wonderful, the pacing good, the characters fascinating.
A few things tickled me, in a good way. Like the dragons' perception of love.
They'll mop up my mind when I get home--I won't lose myself to it. But I want to measure this danger, stare right into the fearsome jaws of love, survive its deadly blast, and find better ways to treat others who suffer this malady.
I never imagined love as having fearsome jaws. But hey, if the dragons say so then who am I to argue?
5 out of 5 brilliant and amazingly shiny stars. Highly recommended.
Content: Mild language
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Author site / Amazon
(Kindle edition only $1.99 at time of posting).