I knew I was going to love this book within the first two chapters, and I wasn’t disappointed. When I finished it, though, I was kind of at a loss for how to talk about it. I’m still not entirely sure what to say, but here’s to trying.
Seraphina is the story of a half-dragon/half-human, in a world where there is a lot of human/dragon tension and hybrids like her are believed to be impossible (dragons can transform into human shape, but are considered to be a different species). If the truth was known, she’d be accepted into neither human nor dragon society.
This book is about prejudice, and being different. A generation back, a peace treaty ended a war between Goredd, the country Seraphina lives in, and dragonkind. But fear and hatred is still alive, on both sides, though we primarily see it in Goredd. And there’s Seraphina, desperately trying not to be found out, but finding herself in the wrong situations regardless.
It began with her learning music, which she loves and has a talent for, against the wishes of her father. And then she applies for a job at court, as an assistant to the court composer–a job that comes with the responsibility of instructing a princess to play an instrument. And after that, she just can’t bring herself not to do something when she has the ability to make a difference.
I like Seraphina. She’s lived with this fear all her life, but she can’t help but want to be accepted, even as she believes that can’t happen. She’s sensible, she’s smart, and she’s driven. The few times she does something stupid, it’s believable given the circumstances and what she doesn’t know. I can’t quite put my finger on why she spoke to me, but she did. Maybe it was how reserved she’d had to become, trying not to stand out.
Her relationships with other characters were also fun to read about. In this book, dragons are supposed to be creatures that are purely logical and don’t feel emotions as humans do. That makes for a fascinating interplay between Seraphina and her unemotional uncle–she loves him and can’t help but want him to care about her, but he isn’t supposed to be able to do that. And she knows how ridiculous it is to want him to feel something that can get him in trouble, but there it is.
The royals, Glisselda and Lucian, are also really fun characters. Glisselda is all over the place–determined and ambitious, but more than a little wild. Lucian is easygoing and cheerful, except where his duties as captain of the guard are involved, which he takes very seriously. And maybe a couple of other things he takes very seriously. They both take to Seraphina, and it’s funny to watch her get swept up by the force of nature that is Glisselda.
There are many more characters, most of whom are at the least interesting in their own rights. Personally, I never got confused with any of them, but there is a cast list and a glossary in the back.
Now that I’ve read Seraphina, I’m craving something fantasy, maybe epic fantasy, that can engross me the way this book did. But it’s a tough act to follow.