Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Alongside such classic dragon series as Anne McAffery’s Pern books, recent years have seen a rise in novels dealing with dragons, mostly thanks to Christopher Paolini’s Eragon series. While many books have dealt with dragons flying around and terrorizing humans with their fierce, fiery breath, literature has never seen any dragons quite like those depicted in Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman.

Humans are unable to enter the dragons’ country, and the dragons, for their part, are only allowed in human territories if they disguise themselves. In Seraphina’s world, dragons are shape shifters and have the ability to take on human shape. Though dragons may choose to appear human, they possess no human emotion, desire or feeling; they are cold, calculating, and scientific.

It’s been almost 40 years since a peace treaty was signed between humans and dragons. Since that time the two species have coexisted, although tensions are increasingly rising, and the peace now seems fragile. There is a secret group called the Sons of St. Ogdo that wants to get rid of dragonkind and hurt the people that sympathize with them. Dragons are assaulted in the streets, and demonstrations are becoming common. When the crown prince is discovered dead with his head bitten off—weeks before the Dragon King is to visit to commemorate the signing of the treaty—war seems imminent.

In the middle of this turmoil is our heroine Seraphina, a talented musician at the royal court. In a world of brewing tension between human and dragonkind, Seraphina is the unthinkable: her father is human, and her mother, who died giving birth to her, was a dragon. If anyone were to discover her secret, she would certainly be hurt or killed. Seraphina guards her identity closely, holds herself apart from society, and does little to draw attention to herself and her emerging talents. But as she becomes more and more involved in the investigation of Prince Rufus’ murder, some secrets are bound to come out. With a strong heroine, richly imagined creatures, and tension-filled plot, Seraphina is a book that readers are sure to enjoy.

Review by Ian, CLP-Homewood

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