Happy Friday! This week has been super busy for our family, so I only read one YA book: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I enjoyed this book so much, and it is one of the best YA books I've ever read.
Where to begin….I must first applaud Hartman for her incredible skill at world craft: Seraphina lives in a very unique, slightly medieval, yet slightly advanced world. The world is at peace and has been for forty years since the signing of the treaty between humans and dragons. Yet as the new year approaches and a large celebration is planned to celebrate this peace, a prince is executed, and the people of the Kingdom of Goredd suspect that a dragon is the culprit. To complicate things, dragons can take a human form, and it's almost impossible for humans to tell the difference. A saarantras, or dragon in human form, must wear a bell around his or her neck with the exception of those who have a scholar waiver. I've read many fantasy novels with dragons, and these dragons are unique although they do have a few characteristics from lore. Serpahina also creates a garden in her mind for coping with visions, and the amazing descriptions of the garden as well as the Kingdom of Goredd are lovely and vivd.
The aptly named Seraphina is one of the most endearing YA characters ever. A musical prodigy, she is the assistant music master at court: not the best place to conceal a secret that could get her killed. The lies she must tell to protect her very life increase her stress level, not to mention all the performances and performers she must direct as the new year and the anniversary of the treaty approach. And to complicate things even further, she begins to fall for Prince Lucian who's betrothed to Princess Glisselda, the heir to the throne. Glisselda is a pupil of Serpahina's, and I thought she was very vapid at first, but her character grows on you as the plot advances.
There is a rather large cast of characters and unique vocabulary, but Hartman has provided a categorized Cast of Characters as well as a Glossary in the back of the book. I found this very helpful with the vocabulary, but her characterizations are so well drawn that I didn't need to refer to the Cast of Characters very often. I've been wanting to read this book for a couple of years, and I'm disappointed I waited so long. If you read a YA book this year, I highly recommend Seraphina.