Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Lytherus Book Club: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, part 1

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Woo! Excited to share thoughts on this AMAZING Book! I’ve reviewed it for Lytherus before, so if you’re familiar with that then there’s no surprise about my love for Seraphina.  But I wanted to read it again, as I hadn’t picked it up since 2012 and I wanted to go into book 2 with everything fresh in my mind.

So. What’s this book about? Let’s start with the official blurb:

Seraphina_book_cover_(US_addition)In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.

So, I’m going to change up the format of the book club yet again, because it’s no fun for me as the writer or you as the reader for me to basically re-tell the story in a more condensed version here. I’m also assuming you’re reading along with me, so I thought I’d go through what we’ve read so far and list out the important things/questions/interesting factoids, etc. For this post I’m covering chapters one through seventeen. Here’s what stood out to me as worth remembering:

  •  In this world dragons can fold themselves into human form.
  • Seraphina is half-dragon. Orma, a dragon who is both her guardian and teacher, is also her uncle.
  • Dragons and humans have been at peace for forty years, a celebration of which is on the near horizon.
  • A member of the royal family was brutally murdered by beheading, and people are speculating it’s dragons.
  • Seraphina is seeing her mother’s memories, which come to her in fits.
  • She has a garden of grotesques, as she calls it, in her mind, visions that keep returning filled with the same seventeen strange people and creatures.
  • She can understand the dragon language.
  • She encounters a woman in court, Dame Okra, who is one of the grotesques in her mind garden; she realizes they are real live people. She also realizes they are also half-dragons, by the revelation of the Dame’s small dragon tail.
  • Orma’s father, Imlann, a renegade dragon, sends word to Orma that he’s around and to watch out. Orma thinks he’s hiding in plain sight and that he wants to stir up trouble and mess with the peace.
  • Seraphina encounters another half-dragon, Lars, who is also a musician at the palace.
  • She’s getting friendly with the prince, Kiggs, who is betrothed to the princess, his cousin and also Seraphina’s friend. She’s not quite sure what to do with all the feels.
  • Two traveling knights spotted a rogue dragon. Seraphina suspects it to be her grandfather Inlann.
  • She realizes that she can talk to the other half-dragons with her mind, which freaks her out a bit.
  • She and Kiggs set out to find more of the knights who saw the renegade dragon, in hopes they can help identify him.

So, the first half of the book is setting up the world nicely, and educating us to the tensions between humans and dragons. Seeing it from the point of view of someone who has a foot in both worlds is really interesting. She seems to be embarassed about her dragon half, as it’s seen as disgusting, but she can empathize with them, thanks to her uncle and her mother’s memories.

I also love that she meets some other half dragons. I enjoyed seeing the special talent that each possesses, and it will be cool to see what else is revealed as the book continues.

The love story, as it were, is based on attraction of the mind, which is fantastic. Seraphina thinks she’s repulsive and unlovable, so she never really lets herself feel anything. But she can’t help falling for Kiggs, who admires her strength, courage, and brains, and is a sincere friend to her. They also have the connection of not feeling like they quite belong, since he’s a known bastard. Though the love story isn’t the main driving force of the book it’s wound nicely in there, and I am interested in seeing how it pans out through the rest of the book.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second half of the book! Until then, don’t forget to submit your questions in the comments below for Rachel Hartman. We’ll be doing an exclusive video chat with her soon, so ask away!

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