Synopsis from Goodreads.
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 sides. 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.
Review contains the slightest of slight spoilers…
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I liked it better than I thought I would… which says a lot for a fantasy-phobe like me.
Seraphina. The world- It was beautifully constructed. Dragons. ORMA. Courts. Concerts. Parades. Emotions. Scales. Dreams. “Tending the garden” . Fruit bat. Mrs Fusspots. Gavotting. Intrigue. War. Gold. Trinkets. Secrets. Knights. Jongleurs. Memories.
See love interest.
Also, there were huge chunks of the story where hardly anything happened. I found myself flicking back to see if I’d just missed a major battle scene or something.
But I hadn’t.
When things happened it was great… but these parts were few and far between.
It’s clear that Ms Hartman is extremely skilled in world building and wow, what a world she built. It was so dense and intricate that you could imagine walking through the town. I just wish she had used some of those writing skills to add a bit more plot.
Now, I’m not the biggest fantasy fan (I’ve never even got through LOTR films… I know, I know. Smite me down, fantasy fans!) and I don’t mind admitting that it’s probably because of a mix of not finding it interesting and not understanding it.
I found Seraphina interesting and I probably understood most of it but I just really wanted more to happen.
Strong. Resourceful. Passionate. Loyal. Determined. Not whingey.
I loved Seraphina, she’s my kind of heroine.
Minor blips when boys are around but I can let her off in exchange for moisturising tips.
My dislike for poor Lucian Kiggs is all my own fault.
Because I’m silly and I kept calling him Lucian Griggs as if he was some kind of cousin that Jonah just never talked about.
And then I was like… no, Jo, it’s Kiggs, Kiggs.
So naturally I started calling him Lucian Giggs, like he was some kind of cousin that Ryan just never talked about.
(Him being Ryan Giggs’ cousin would make more sense because Mr Giggs (not Kiggs) is Welsh and everyone knows that’s where 83% of the world’s population of dragons dwell.)
But his name aside… I wasn’t sold with either him or Seraphina’s attraction to him.
I didn’t think there would be a love story in this book so I was kind of put off by the fact that there was. I had gotten it into my mind that it was going to be all about Seraphina being brilliant on every page. I would have been quite happy for it to just have been left out or even better, developed more slowly so we had an idea why the two of them liked each other at all.
I just didn’t believe in it.
I’m sorry, I really tried, but I just couldn’t.
As a fun note: You should have seen the other love interests Flann and I were inflicting on poor Seraphina throughout our readalong.
Oh mate, I loved this guy. Although I know he’d probably give me a cold look if I told him that or stab me in the side if I tried to hug him.
But that’s fine, because that’s why I loved him.
He was so hilarious and he came out with some absolutely stellar one liners (I highlighted them all but my favourite was “I’m attracting small children, shoo it away won’t you?”) and he’s the epitome of emotionally unavailable man.
And who doesn’t love an emotionally unavailable man?!
Bravo, Ms Hartman, for creating such a fantastic and interesting character.
Now for your next trick…. make him real.
My favourite part of this whole book was Seraphina’s struggle with her identity and how she was supposed to fit into a society where everyone thought she was a monster.
I know that most people reading this book won’t know what it’s like to be a half-dragon and the emotions involved in that, but I truly feel a lot of people reading it will be able to relate to Seraphina’s battle to come to terms with herself and how to fit in when she was so different.
Ms Hartman perfectly depicted these emotions in a raw and harrowing way that will undoubtedly have a lot of resonance with a lot of readers.
So with the explanation out of the way, this song is for Seraphina.
7/10. As I mentioned in the Theme Tune section, Seraphina’s emotions and trying to fit into either world were extremely well-written and extremely affective.
Also, quick mention because I’m tiptoeing around spoilers as I would a dragon’s lair, I loved every conversation between Seraphina and Orma. They made me so happy and ache with sadness at the same time.
Did I mention I liked Orma?
Do I need to write Part 2 of my love for Orma?
People who like epic fantasy books. People who appreciate brilliant world-building. People who like strong heroines. People who think that dragons are misunderstood. People who wonder whether Jonah Griggs has any cousins. People who love Orma.
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher.