Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Hey all, Alexa here! Sorry I didn’t post last week. Internet randomly went out over the weekend, and we didn’t have a technician come in till Monday. But here I finally am with a review of Seraphina.


Cover Description:

In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer.

The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being.

When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life.


The plot starts off pretty well—a funeral of a prince who died a violent and mysterious death—but after that, it kinda slowed down for a while. It wasn’t boring by any means, because Phina still had to deal with the seemingly unattainable romance (is there any other kind?), trying to protect the remaining royals (so no one else ended up beheaded), and her personal problems in her mental garden (…yeah, you’re just gonna have to read it to understand that one); but the actual mystery, the actual figuring out of “whodunit,” felt rather straightforward to me.

Until the end, that is. Upon which point, I received shock after shock after insane shock. I’m pretty sure my hair was standing on end by the time I finished.

All that to say, the plot was pretty enjoyable. Not the best I’ve ever read, but interesting, intriguing, and maybe a little enchanting.

Plot: 4 stars out of 5.


These characters felt pretty alive to me. They all had different personalities, mannerisms, and adorable little tics that made them fun to read about.

Phina was a good MC: terrified, talented, complicated, and brave (or “a bullheaded bumbler,” depending on who you ask). Plus, I got a really good look at her inner world, and seeing her personal struggles helped me understand why she wasn’t strictly likeable—to me and to many others in the novel.

One thing that bothered me though was that, while she seemed pretty smart overall, Phina would often say or do really-not-smart things, and she got herself into half the trouble she ended up in. But to be fair, everyone makes mistakes, and if she was perfect, she wouldn’t have been relatable.

Lucien Kiggs was another cool one. He was brave (pretty sure his was actually bravery), honest, and loyal. Even when Phina insulted him, he (eventually) brushed off the comment, and turned it into a recurring joke, proving himself to be a funny, fascinating boy who didn’t take himself too seriously. Which, I think is an important quality to have.

Though I liked Kiggs and Phina separately, and I applaud the uniqueness of a teen love triangle with two girls and a boy, I wasn’t a fan of the romance. Not that I thought Kiggs should end up with Glisselda, but I thought Seraphina and he worked better together as friends. When they started realizing their feelings, wanting to be together, and all that, things just got complicated and awkward, and honestly, it was easier for everyone when they didn’t want to smooch each other’s faces.

But that’s just my opinion.

This section’s getting a bit lengthy, so I’ll briefly mention my favorite characters and then move on: Orma and Abdo, the latter of which did not receive nearly enough pagetime, were wonderful. Orma was awesome in an I’m-super-smart-and-therefore-totally-detached-from-my-feelings-like-BBC-Sherlock kind of way, and Abdo was a bright, courageous, adorable child (if you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you know I’m a sucker for those). They were always there when Seraphina needed them, threw their lives on the line for her cause, and were just generally epic and amusing, the sort of characters I could really fall in love with.

Characters: 4 stars out of 5.

Writing Style/Setting:

The writing itself was, in my opinion, the best part of this book. The narrative is absolutely gorgeous, painting vivid pictures of everything—from the scenery to the people to Seraphina’s own state of mind. I couldn’t think of words that were quite adequate to describe it, so I decided to just get a few quotes and prove it to you:

If I could keep a single moment for all time, that would be the one. I became the very air; I was full of stars. I was the soaring spaces between the spires of the cathedral, the solemn breath of chimneys, a whispered prayer upon the winter wind. I was silence, and I was music, one clear transcendent chord rising toward Heaven.”

And even though I didn’t strictly like the romance, here’s a quote I love because it shows there’s more to beauty than looks:

He looked at me again and his eyes shone in the lamplight, or with the inner light of delighted anticipation. His enthusiasm made him beautiful.

And finally, my favorite line in the book, not even spoken by one of the love interests,

I value your continued existence.”

I think these lines quite speak for themselves.

Writing Style/Setting: 5 stars out of 5.

And so we wrap up at a little over 4 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed Seraphina. Despite my problems with the romance and the fact that the plot wasn’t real twisty-turny till the end, I was never bored. I loved following Seraphina, reading her (often amusing) interactions with other people, and just plain discovering more about her world. I’d recommend this book to everyone, but especially high fantasy lovers and anyone looking for a fresh and fascinating take on dragons. If you’d like to take me up on my recommendation, which you totally should, you can find it at Barnes and Noble for $9.78.

Comment time! What do you think of Seraphina from my review? Have you already read it? Any dragon story suggestions? Incidentally, what’s your favorite love triangle? Leave a comment below and let me know!

2 thoughts on “Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

  1. Yesss. This is one of my absolute favorites. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! You made some valid points about some of its flaws too, but I guess I was just more able to overlook those things. Personally, I thought Seraphina and Kiggs were adorable. But that’s just me 😀

    The writing was sooo beautiful. I don’t remember the last time I read a more quotable book. Seriously. I’m pretty sure my own review of this book as half-filled with quotes.

    1. Yeah, I know! Your review is actually the reason I read it. 😀

      Yeah, I mean, it’s all about personal preference. For /me/, they just didn’t work together. But like I said, that’s just my opinion. 🙂

      Hehe, yeah, it was very quotable. Like I said, I think that was my favorite part. 😀

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