Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.
The writing style was lovely, the characters very interesting and mysterious, but the magical world Seraphina lives in is very complicated, and I had a hard time getting into it.
Series: Seraphina, Book 1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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. 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.
First of all, I must acknowledge the beauty of the cover of this book, which is so unique for a young adult novel. This book is worth reading just so you can look at the delightfully illustrated cover every time you close it. But there are many more valid reasons you should give this book a try, or maybe two tries, like I did.
The first time I read this book, I got about one hundred pages in without being hooked. The writing style was lovely, the characters very interesting and mysterious, but the magical world Seraphina lives in is very complicated, and I had a hard time getting into it. The beginning of the book is very slow-paced, and a lot of information that is not fully explained is thrown at you, along with many new characters with hard to pronounce names.
The second time, I listened to the audiobook read by Mandy Williams, who has a wonderful British accent, but did not make this book any easier to understand. However, I did see this book to the end, and realized that I had missed the beginning of the excitement by about ten pages. The plot picks up, and Seraphina is suddenly trying to solve the mystery of her ancestry, realizing her true feelings for her new friend, Prince Lucian Kiggs, and hunting down the royal murderer with his help, all the while trying to keep her true half-dragon identity a secret.
What I loved most about this book is its originality. Not only is Seraphina a half-dragon, but she is also headstrong and shy at the same time, and although she is the main character, she remains a mystery throughout the entire book. In addition, the world she lives in is extremely complex, with in-depth details about the religion, customs, monarchy and its relationships with other nations, and fantastical aspects (a map would have been very helpful). There is also the fact that the dragons can turn into humans with silver blood and no emotions, which made for tremendously interesting and humorous characters.
Seraphina is a 2013-2014 Green Mountain Book Award Nominee, along with popular titles such as The Fault in Our Stars, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Code Name Verity.
Other than its somewhat slow pace, Seraphina is a unique, bizarre, and beautiful tale of a girl with a horrible secret, who has to save an entire kingdom from disastrous war while finding true love, and her place in the world. You know, the usual.