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Summary: Four decades of peace in the kingdom of Goredd have still not eased the mistrust between humans and dragons. Being able to transform into human shape, dragons lend their knowledge as ambassadors and scholars. With the anniversary of the treaty drawing near, tensions levels are high.
If anyone has a reason to fear both humans and dragons, it is Seraphina Dombegh, an unusually gifted musician. Just as she joins the court, a member of the royal family is murdered and all evidence points to dragons. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, alongside the captain of the Queen's Guard, Prince Lucian Kiggs. As they begin to uncover hints of a plot to destroy the delicate peace in the kingdom, Seraphina struggles to hide her own secret, the one behind her musical gift — a secret so appalling that its discovery could equal her death.
This is a fantasy adventure for middle grade and young adult readers.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 11 and Up; read yourself: 12 and up
Young Reader Reaction: There isn't anything I didn’t enjoy about this story! Seraphina has quickly become one of my favorite young adult fantasy novels. It is much more than a superficial story with a love interest as the focus; it is a book filled with depth and complexity. Hartman encourages readers to look inside themselves and own who they are. I especially enjoyed exceedingly was the musical descriptions. I am not a music expert, and I was fascinated by the imagery of choirs and instruments. Every detail I could picture in my mind, which is not something that many authors can do for me. I also enjoyed the dragon lore, as it is rather unique compared to others. Though the book is not action-packed, it is highly enjoyable with its characters, setting, and build-up. This is definitely a book to pick up! Seraphina would be perfectly appropriate for someone as young as 12. Language and violence are minimal and sex is barely mentioned.
Adult Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Pros: A page turner of the first order! Vivid descriptions and wonderful characters immerse readers in Seraphina's world from beginning to end.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This book would be a great gift to anybody interested in high fantasy / dragons, engaging plot, and detailed world-building!
Educational Themes: There are many layers to the story, not the least of which is Seraphina's journey of determining her own truth. The depth of the characters add to the reader's own reflection, as well.
Notes: A Reading Tub® volunteer submitted this review. She borrowed the book from their local library.
Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult, fantasy, adventure, conduct of life
Date(s) Reviewed: March 2015
Other Reviews: Critics' Reviews and reader feedback found at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com.