In this new and fresh dragon fantasy, tensions between humans and dragons, or saar, are rising violently in the realm of Goredd as the 40 year peace treaty comes to an end and a Prince is murdered, looking suspiciously like the dragons’ fault, catching half-human half-dragon Seraphina in the middle. When her father, a lawyer and prime authority on the saar, met her beautiful musician mother, he didn’t know she was an exiled dragon in her human form (saarantrai). However, when her mother died in childbirth, there was no denying the silver blood that marked dragonkind. Seraphina’s very existence is forbidden and she will be put to death if discovered. Her whole life has been one of secrecy and fear as she tries to hide the peculiarities of her dragon heritage: the scales covering an arm and ringing her waist, an extraordinary musical talent that has landed her the job as the royal music master’s assistant and teacher of the princess, and visions that plague her unless she puts her mind “in ard” by keeping a mental garden of “grotesques”, or odd people and creatures.
With the prospect of important dragon visitors arriving to sign the new treaty, Seraphina finds it increasingly difficult to not draw attention since she is conducting elaborate concerts for the arrivals. When her tutor comes across a dragon beset by angry dragon-hating cult members, Seraphina meets Prince Lucien, the Princess Glisselda’s betrothed and the head of Goredd’s security, and sort of signs on to investigate the growing unrest surrounding Prince Rufus’ death since she is rather unbiased of either side and very smart to detail, a rarity in Prince Lucien’s eyes. She finds new revelations to explore: a possible assassination plot, her dragon heritage, about her grotesques, and her relationships with people who might reject her when they realize her true identity. For Seraphina, it is about the choice to save her kingdom and those she loves or the choice to save herself…
I really loved this story, and I really loved Seraphina! The story explores new paths in YA fantasy that are both unusual and interesting. But Seraphina is a hero almost anyone can grow to like, since she is not overwhelmingly feminine, she is a strong character, and she is immediately relateable because of her flaws. Prince Lucien is an important character as well, along with two male grotesques in her mind-garden, which might appeal to boys if Seraphina does not. This is perfect for fans of Jane Yolen, Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Shannon Hale, and Mercedes Lackey. Also, might have a larger appeal to younger (middle grade or upper elementary) readers because it is a clean read. I can’t wait for the second book, Shadow Scale releasing in March, description found below.
“Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.
As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?”