Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

September 25, 2013 Review 74 ★★★★½

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Random House
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 450
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Series: Seraphina #1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.


Fantasy is my absolute favorite genre, it’s not even a hit or miss for me. Unless the book is so terribly bad I can’t finish it, I’m going to like a fantasy novel. However, SERAPHINA completely reminded me of why I like the genre, and definitely set the bar higher for any fantasy books I read in the future. Seriously though, throw me a fantasy and I’ll be happy for days.

Seraphina is half dragon, half human, and hides among both species. But the precarious truce between the dragons and humans is starting to crumble, and Seraphina might not be able to hide for much longer, especially when the people she loves are in danger.

SERAPHINA tells an entirely new version of dragons that I thought was so unique and well thought out, especially with all the politics of court involved. My favorite character was a dragon, and I hope to see more of him in the sequel because the dragons themselves are so intriguing. It’s so funny to me though because dragons are in a truce with humans and are considered the weaker species.

Usually I am 100% in for a forbidden romance, and Seraphina’s relationship with Prince Lucian Kiggs should have been no different, but I was a bit disappointed with these two. Seraphina’s feelings seem to have came out of nowhere, and Kiggs was always a bit wishy-washy for me.

The writing in this book was a huge positive, the descriptions are detailed and flow very nicely, allowing you to picture everything really clearly. They were not so overwhelming to where they took over the book, and they were not clunky or tedious to read either.

I feel like SERAPHINA was made for me, it has fantasy, dragons, forbidden romance, and royalty. If you are a fan of any of those, be sure to check this one out!

Rating Report
Overall: 4.4

74 Responses to “Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman”

  1. Andreea

    I do read fantasy from time to time, but I admit that it’s not really my favorite genre. Although I must say that I do enjoy reading fairy tale retellings.

    I am glad that you liked this book so much though!

    Andreea recently posted…September Book Haul

    • Alise

      Funny about the cover, I got my copy from the library and thought the red spots were pizza sauce stains so I spent awhile trying to scrub them off xD aha. Thanks!

  2. Megan @ The Book Babe's Reads

    Ooh, sounds like a fairly good read! I’ve seen this around, but for me fantasy IS a hit or miss…but I might try this one, because I love when the premise is well thought out and written. Hopefully the romance (in the next book) will be better for you. (:

  3. Sam @ Realm of Fiction

    Seraphina actually makes me wonder if fantasy IS a hit and miss genre for me. I generally like to think that it’s not, but I did have a lot of trouble getting into this book, even though I know a lot of people liked it. I ended up abandoning it last year, but I’m glad to see it worked for you, despite the slight issue with the romance. Lovely review as always!
    Sam @ Realm of Fiction recently posted…The Killing Woods Blog Tour: 1st Chapter + Giveaway!

    • Alise

      Hmm, that is interesting! There are some slow parts, for sure, but I guess I was entertained. I’m sorry you didn’t like it, I hope you found some other fantasy books you did like :) Thanks!

  4. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I adored this one so completely, and while I understand what bothered you with the romance, it just worked for me for some reason. In fact, everything did, it was just so clever!
    I can’t wait for book 2, they keep pushing the release date and each time I’m devastated.
    Lovely review.

    • Alise

      The plot was definitely well thought out, I agree! I was constantly wondering who the bad guys were :)
      Do they really? That’s too bad, I hope it’s not too long from now. Thanks!

  5. Sapir

    I’m not a big fan of fantasy.. but I think it’s mostly because I’m not very familiar with this genre. Maybe if I’ll read a really good fantasy book I’ll be hooked. This book’s idea sounds awesome and I’m glad you liked it so much. The writing sounds good, I like books with detailed descriptions.
    Thanks for sharing this review!! Loved the gifs :):)

    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl
    Sapir recently posted…Book Review: Skinny by Ibi Kaslik

    • Alise

      Maybe! It took a good contemporary romance to get me to like contemporary so I can see that. Not everyone likes descriptions so it’s great that you do!

  6. Sunny

    So, so happy that you liked this one :) I’ve seen so many people either LOVE it or HATE it. I didn’t like the beginning, but got into it more until I fell in love (unlike some friends of mine who DNF’d it). I agree on the romance, they could have been better.

    • Alise

      I so agree, I think it’s DNF or love, really. The beginning is just so different it takes a bit to get used to but once I did, I enjoyed it so much!

  7. Pam@YAEscapefromReality

    I liked the world-building in this book, including the fact that dragons could take human form and had rejected emotions and had very analytical and mathematical minds. I also enjoyed the politics of it all (humans and dragons really hating each other but having this very uneasy truce). However, there was just something missing for me in this book. The book started out a bit slow and there was just so much information throughout the book that didn’t seem that necessary, although it may turn out to be in later books. There’s a middle ground with having enough information in a book versus having too much, and I think there was just a bit too much here for me. Sometimes I found myself just found myself skimming a bit, especially when Seraphina is in her “garden.” Also, I just never completely connected with the characters. It wasn’t one of those books where I was so invested in the characters that I was laughing or crying or wanting to throw my Kindle across the room. Seraphina is a likeable character, and I enjoyed the scenes with her and Prince Lucian Kiggs and Oram. I was rooting for Seraphina and Kiggs, but then you have Princess Glisselda, who I kept liking more and more as the book went on and I’ll be curious to see what the author does with that triangle in the future. Glad you enjoyed it!
    Pam@YAEscapefromReality recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

    • Alise

      I know, this was such an interesting take. I loved that point, how they didn’t really experience emotions the same way. It was a bit slow, I agree. And I was overwhelmed by the terminology at first. Aha, funny you should mention that because I didn’t like the garden parts either. I liked the idea of the there being more of her kind but the garden thing was definitely a bit strange. Well, very strange. Oram is my favorite! Glisselda is a favorite of mine as well, but I can kind of see how that’s going to end: badly.

      Thanks for your awesome comment, Pam!

    • Alise

      Yeah, I’m picky about the books I break down to buy as well. For future reference, none of my reviews contain spoilers :)

    • Alise

      Aha, I know that feeling. I’ve been avoiding long books because I don’t have a lot of time but this one truly did go by fast!

    • Alise

      I so agree, you would think that YA would be overrun by dragons by now, everyone enjoys a good dragon story! (Who doesn’t secretly like forbidden romance? ;) Thanks!

  8. Leigh @ Little Book Star

    LOL I like the GIF you got there. I freakin LOVE forbidden romances, too! Some turns out cliché but when the author pulls it off it’s just..THE FEELS MAAAN, THE FEELS! I’m really glad you love the Fantasy genre. For me my favorite is Sci-Fi and Contemporary. I’m super glad you enjoyed Seraphina. I’ll probably check it out… I’m still a bit iffy though because I’m not a huge fan of dragons.


    • Alise

      I know what you mean, so many books it gets a bit hard to remember all the details! Yes, the dragon part is a bit unforgettable xD

  9. Tanja

    I just needed one word to start this book right away. When I heard it was about dragons I was sold. I ended up enjoying this book. The story was really great but I do agree about the love interest – I couldn’t feel it at all. Great review :)
    Tanja recently posted…ARC Review: Heritage by S.M. Boyce

    • Alise

      Aha, same. So few books involve dragons, which is really surprising. Yeah, I have no idea why but the romance didn’t do anything for me either. Thanks!

  10. Hazel @ Stay Bookish

    I’m not a huge fantasy gal, I sometimes struggle reading the genre. Having said that, I’ve completely enjoyed the few that i’ve read and I think fantasy is truly epic. Seraphina sounds like a perfect fantasy novel and dragons are awesome! I’ll definitely pick it up if I ever crave to read the genre! Fantastic review, Alise! :)

    • Alise

      Thank you! It takes me awhile to get into a genre I am iffy about too, but I hope you get a chance to read this one and enjoy it :)

  11. Aman

    Half dragon, half human!!! Now that’s a combo I haven’t seen! Plus, forbidden romance? Hell yeah! But I have to say that I’m not happy about the sudden feeling and wishy washy personality in both MC’s. Hopefully it’ll get better as the series continues. Thanks for the rec, Alise! Great review :) Love the Tangled gif!!!
    Aman recently posted…Review: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young

    • Alise

      The romance was okay, but since the book was focused so much on fantasy all the relationship stuff wasn’t as fleshed out. Thanks! :D

  12. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Great review Alise, I’ve wanted to read this one for a while because I’ve only heard good things about it. I haven’t read many straight fantasy books that feature a dragon, so should be good! Romance sounds a bit wishy washy but the court politics and itself, awesome.

    • Alise

      I’m so glad this one piqued your interest. I, too, really love dragon books but haven’t read that many. I was impressed with this one, though.

  13. Magen Corrie

    I really enjoyed this one! I also loved the take on dragons in this book. And, like you said, the description was beautiful and flowed very nice!

    Great review!

    • Alise

      That’s exactly what I thought too, they seemed way better friendly than they did as a couple. Oh gosh, I love their dynamic! So great. Thanks!

  14. A Canadian Girl

    Fantasy is one of my favourite genres, and this book is definitely among the better YA fantasy novels in my opinion. I loved the plot and the worldbuilding was amazing

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