Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I would consider myself a fan of dragons (well, who isn't?) and though perhaps I haven't read a great many novels containing the winged beasts, I still get excited when I find a book that's gone out on a limb, pushed the boat out, taken a chance and tried something different. As much as I love the glorious creatures in all their fearful majesty, sharp toothiness and limb rendering awesomeness, I found myself being drawn to Hartman's vision of Dragon. A proud race of mathmagicians and scholars that fought for the land they had lived in for centuries, but where steadily being pushed out of.
Skip ahead to the events of Seraphina, and we have an uneasy truce between dragons and humans built on a simple wish for peace. What makes Hartman's dragons unique for me, is that to better understand and appreciate their former enemies, they take their form and walk among them. This of course is the cause of all the troubles and tribulations that occur, much of this down to the Dragons refusal to allow themselves to become befuddled by troublesome emotions and forget what they are. What this creates however, is an intriguing tale of two peoples seemingly complete opposites of each other, yet perhaps have more in common than you think.
The storytelling is delicious, Hartman spins her tale with grace and a deft hand. She will pull you slowly at first, so you don't notice how involved you are until it is a few hours later and you are turning the last page. I found someone I could relate to it Seraphina, the focus of this tale. Her unease in her skin resonated with me as I'm sure it would with many. I empathised with her seemingly impossible situation, the dark secret she carried that few would understand and would more likely shun her for. The relationships between characters were built on solid foundations and well explored The author was able to make it so you could understand the actions taken if perhaps you don't agree with them.
The only gripe I had appeared towards the end. It involved a certain male member of the cast, a man who valued honesty above anything else, sought the truth in all, told no lies and his willingness to live one the biggest lies of all. To me, it seemed to go completely against his character. Also some of the names where a bit annoying, but it wouldn't be proper fantasy if there weren't a few tongue twisters thrown in to make sure you're awake and paying attention =D
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