Monday, October 28, 2013

Wistful YA ~ SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman

A teeny splat from moi: after reading an inspiring post by the talented Talli Roland, who was commenting on a post by the as talented Jessica Bell, I will be toning down the air of promotion in the Alleyway for a while. Although I LUV helping other authors share themselves and their work, I also need to remember to share some of myself as well. 'Nuff said until I finish up with my already scheduled calendar and write up a post elaborating more. Okay, go ahead...read on...

Most books move me. I wouldn't choose to read them if I didn't believe they had merit to do so. However, every-so-often I read a book that just blows me away. This is one of them.


SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Released: July 2012
Pages: 451

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Favorite Line/Passage: I paced, rubbing the scales on my stomach, mirror-smooth one way, like a thousand sharp teeth the other. This is what I was. This here. This. I made myself look at the shingle of silver half-moons, the hideous line where they sprouted from my flesh like teeth pushing through gums.
     I was monstrous. There were things in this world I could not have. (pages 226/227)

Description: 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.

COVETED! A MUST READ! +1

My Splats: Brilliant! Inventive! And at times, charmingly touching. Prose that ride on a wave of elegance, drenching the reader in story lust. 

Let's start at the beginning. I was offered this ARC by a fabulous Publicist working for Random House, who I met earlier on through my dealings with Sourcebooks. I accepted this book on his urging, even though I was leery because I am not a dragon fan. Not that I find dragons offensive or anything like that. My psyche is just not attracted to them.

From the start, the writing in itself berated me, shamed me for even considering not reading this tale. The language was uniquely constructed, elegant and mesmerizing from the opening words. (I really mean that.) 

Hartman's descriptions painted a breathing world, one that held all sorts of life. It's thick, feeling old and ancient--holding secret skeletons just waiting for the reader to uncover. Saying this, the air of the writing is not necessary my type, but I could not stop reading. It teased and taunted me, almost to a hypnotic state, where an hour went by and I hadn't realized how much I'd read yet I remembered it all. (That is saying something.)

Phina is just made of awesomeness. Her struggle to come to terms with who and what she is was done in a way I've never read before. Honestly, it was brilliant. Phina's silent relationship with those in her mind adds much depth and tangibility to the tale. I enjoyed how that all was revealed. 

She's unique in herself partly due to her musical talent, yet the reader is clued in early on that there is something more, something else that challenges other's acceptance of her, including her beloved father. Her backstory is quite complex and shared with the reader at just the right intervals. And of course, like in most young adult stories, there is a love interest. In this case, it's an interest that is internally fought off by Phina until the end of the story. Until BAM! Out of nowhere, the reader--in this case, ME--finds his/her heart aching for Kiggs to show Phina mercy. Kiggs is an intricate part of the world build for Seraphina's story, who must keep order and fight off any hint of the dragons--dragons who take on human form. I won't say anymore, for I don't want to share spoilers, other than I wanted Kiggs to like Phina and she to like him more than anything. How had Hartman done it, gotten me to fall in love with dragons?

Pure genius.

The underlying thread of peace and acceptance between 'peoples' (and oneself), who are different came to a climax at the end of the book. Once again, it was beautifully executed in scene and word. 

I would definitely recommend this book to any young adult, romantic, and fantasy lover, as well as and adult who recognizes brilliantly written literature for what it is. I'd also recommend this to middle schoolers who are advanced readers. It's just a great story. Can't wait for the sequel. 

Do you like dragon or fantasy stories? What's the most recent you've read and what did you like about it? 

22 comments:

  1. Great review. I read this as an audio book and really enjoyed it. I do like dragon stories and fantasy. Like you, I thought it was brilliant.

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    1. Ooh, the audio book... Now there's a thought. I've never listened to an entire book before. I bet this one was a great choice to do so.

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  2. Wow, Sheri! Now that's a review!

    I do like dragon stories and haven't read one in a while. I should fix that.

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  3. Very glowing review, and interesting to boot.

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  4. Like Kelly, I'm a lover of dragon stories so this is exactly the kind of book I'd pick out for our library. Thanks so much for the great review.

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  5. First off, I totally agree about having more "self" in blogging. Those sites that have transitioned over to straight promotion, I don't find myself enthusiastic to stop in there anymore.

    Dragon stories? Yes, please. I have four readers in my house who will absolutely read ANYTHING dragon. =)

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    1. Oh really? On the dragon thingy... I meant what I said. Not that dragons offend me, or anything. They've just never excited me. Well, except for Puff the Magic Dragon. :) But this book, premise, and literary prose totally blew me away. Rachel is much deserving of praise.

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  6. Wow now that is an awesome cover and great review too.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. And thanks for stopping by! I think we'd connected a while back, but then I took a mega summer break.

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  7. A book with that kind of power is a special find. I love it when I encounter a book like that.

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    1. So, so true. And it's different for everyone. That's why I always try to leave my reviews open to interpretation; however, with this one, I didn't feel that was necessary. It was that well done.

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  8. This is one of my absolute favorite books too!

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    1. Oh, you've read it and liked it! I was so unsure about reading it, when I was asked to. But once I started I just couldn't stop. As you know, it's a lengthy book. I think I read it in three nights, after my household went to sleep. (Shh...I should have been writing. lol)

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  9. This looks REALLY REALLY REALLY good!

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  10. I have to say, I'm totally NOT a reader of dragon books. But your review? Makes me totally curious.

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    1. I wrote it intentionally that way. I was honored Random House asked me to read for them. (Way cool.) But I was leery. It's not that I don't like dragons. I just don't think of them other than Puff the Magic Dragon. LOL But honestly, the writing is so superb. I learned a ton of technical skill from reading this work. Rachel is going to do very well in this business.

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  11. Sounds like a book worth reading. And yes, I LOVE dragons!!

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  12. I've heard as much about this one. I just love books like this that you could almost eat because the prose is so delicious. There's another one out like that too that I"m dying to read. I'm forgetting the name now--something about Ruins. A YA.

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  13. I used to love dragons more but I've heard good things about this book. I think you've convinced me :)

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    1. Haha! It was one of those reads that shocked me. I kept putting off reading it because of the dragon premise as well as the length. I'm so glad I finally read it.

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  14. It's so wonderful to read your enthusiastic review. If I were this author and read your review, I'd be doing a giant happy dance! I love how positive you are. :-)

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  15. I haven't read a dragon story in ages. I've heard good things about this one. Thanks for the review.

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