Reviews for Seraphina
Booklist Reviews 2012 May #2
*Starred Review* Hartman proves dragons are still fascinating in this impressive high fantasy. After 40 years of peace between human and dragon kingdoms, their much-maligned treaty is on the verge of collapse. Tensions are already high with an influx of dragons, reluctantly shifted to human forms, arriving for their ruler Ardmagar Comonot's anniversary. But when Prince Rufus is found murdered in the fashion of dragons--that is, his head has been bitten off--things reach a fever pitch. Seraphina, a gifted court musician, wants only to go unnoticed as the investigation draws close: she is the unthinkable, a human-dragon half-breed, and her secret must be protected. But when Prince Lucian Kiggs asks for her help with the murder investigation, she has no choice but to become involved, even if Kiggs' acute perceptiveness is a danger to her. Equal parts political thriller, murder mystery, bittersweet romance, and coming-of-age story, this is an uncommonly good fantasy centered upon an odd but lovable heroine who narrates in a well-educated diction with an understated, flippant tone. Fantasy readers young and old who appreciate immersion into a rich new culture will not mind the novel's slow build, especially as it takes wing and hurtles toward the stratosphere. This is an exciting new series to watch. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
The royal court of Goredd celebrates a forty-year (uneasy) peace with dragonkind, but events take a dark turn when Prince Rufus is found murdered. Music mistress Seraphina tries to unmask the killer, while concealing her own relationship with dragons--who, in this outstanding debut, are capable of assuming human form. An innovative concept, accompanied by high action and rich language lively with humor.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #4
e-book ed. 978-0-375-89658-3 $10.99
Kirkus Reviews 2012 June #1
In Hartman's splendid prose debut, humans and dragons--who can take human form but not human feeling--have lived in uneasy peace for 40 years. The dragons could destroy the humans, but they are too fascinated by them. As musician Seraphina describes it, attempting to educate the princess, humans are like cockroaches to dragons, but interesting. As the anniversary of the treaty approaches, things fall apart: The crown prince has been murdered, anti-dragon sentiment is rising, and in the midst of it all, an awkward, gifted, observant girl unexpectedly becomes central to everything. Hartman has remixed her not-so-uncommon story and pseudo-Renaissance setting into something unexpected, in large part through Seraphina's voice. By turns pedantic, lonely, scared, drily funny and fierce, Seraphina brings readers into her world and imparts details from the vast (a religion of saints, one of whom is heretical) to the minute (her music, in beautifully rendered detail). The wealth of detail never overwhelms, relayed as it is amid Seraphina's personal journey; half-human and half-dragon, she is anathema to all and lives in fear. But her growing friendship with the princess and the princess' betrothed, plus her unusual understanding of both humans and dragons, all lead to a poignant and powerful acceptance of herself. Dragon books are common enough, but this one is head and talons above the rest. (cast of characters, glossary) (Fantasy. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
There is more to Seraphina Dombegh than meets the eye. A talented musician, she joins the court of the kingdom of Goredd as its assistant music mistress. Goredd has been in uneasy peace with a neighboring kingdom of dragons, which mastered human transfiguration generations ago. Even in their human form, dragons are Vulcan (as in Spock)-like in their observation and distaste for messy human emotions, preferring to keep themselves in ard, a detached and orderly mental state. Secretly a half-dragon herself, Seraphina finds that her position in court puts her uncomfortably close to the escalating tensions between the two kingdoms, and her own emotions churn a bit whenever Lucien Kiggs, the fiancÚ of the crowned princess, comes into view. Filled with adolescent yearning, this world-building, intelligent series opener gave this reader a reason to love dragon stories again. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 June #1
In this complex, intrigue-laden fantasy, which establishes Hartman as an exciting new talent, readers are introduced to a world in which dragons and humans coexist in an uneasy truce, with dragons taking human form, dwelling among their former enemies, and abiding by a strict set of protocols. Sixteen-year-old Seraphina, assistant to the court composer, hides a secret that could have her ostracized or even killed: she's half-dragon, against all rules and social codes. Along with the distinctive scales she keeps hidden, she has a mind filled with misshapen personalities whose nature she doesn't quite grasp. As Seraphina navigates the complicated politics of a court where human-dragon relations are growing ever more fragile following a royal murder, she has to come to terms with her true nature and powers, the long-dormant memories her mother hid within her, and her growing affection for charming prince Lucian. There's a lot to enjoy in Hartman's debut, from the admirably resourceful heroine and intriguing spin on dragons to the intricately described medievalesque setting and emphasis on music and family. Ages 12-up. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 August
Gr 7 Up--For nearly 40 years, the treaty between the humans of Goredd and the dragons of dragonkind has held strong. Humans must not enter dragonkind territory and dragons, upon entering human lands, must take their human shape, or saarantrai. In Goredd, Seraphina's human father, a high offical, needs her to stay anonymous. The dark secret that she must hide is that her mother was a dragon. Because of her musical talents, Seraphina becomes Goredd's music assistant, helping prepare for the anniversary celebration. Layers of clothing disguise the scales on her arms and stomach, but unlike dragons, her blood runs red, not silver. Also, to keep from having fainting spells in which she relives her deceased mother's experiences, Seraphina must clear her head each night. She calls the figures in her vision grotesques, and each night, she must ensure all is calm in her mind-garden. When the decapitated body of Prince Rufus is found just days before the anniversary festivities, many humans are quick to accuse a dragon of breaking the pact. Seraphina's grotesques begin acting strangely, and the whole court is investigating the murder. When the celebrations are in full swing, all hell breaks loose as the rogue dragon that killed the prince enters Goredd in his dragon form and attempts to take control. Seraphina must risk revealing her true identity (and that of her fellow hybrids) in an attempt to save the kingdom. Hartman creates a rich story layered with intriguing characters and descriptive settings. Seraphina is a complex and fully developed protagonist. Although long, this unique novel (left open for a sequel) will surely appeal to fans of Christopher Paolini's "Eragon" books (Knopf) and wherever readers enjoy fantasies.--Lauren Newman, Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School, East Columbus, NJ [Page 105]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2012 June
In the kingdom of Goredd, tensions exist between humans and dragons, even though it has been forty years since a peace treaty was signed. Sixteen-year-old Seraphina Dombegh holds the esteemed position of assistant to the court composer due to her exceptional musical gift. While preparing for the celebration of the treaty's fortieth anniversary, she is drawn into the rising tensions that are all the more difficult for her because she is half-dragon, a secret she is ashamed of and could prove fatal if revealed. She often has visions of strange, deformed creatures that seem to be tied to her past. To control her visions, she has built a garden in her mind where she treats her visions like people, maintaining them and keeping them content Seraphina offers a unique take on dragon lore. The dragons in the kingdom of Goredd are intelligent, mathematically inclined creatures that can easily take on human form, only distinguishable by a silver bell pinned to their shoulders. Being a half-breed, Seraphina is an interesting mix of human and dragon; she struggles to reconcile the two while living in a divided kingdom. The line between reality and illusion is a thin one and often crossed, making Seraphina's world all the more intriguing. Reading this novel is like falling into Alice's rabbit hole and never wanting to come out. Fans of fantasy will devour this book, and with a little pushing, this novel could appeal to just about anyone who appreciates a fantastic read.--Lindsay Grattan. 5Q 4P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.