I read this book earlier this year as I sat by a lake in northern North Dakota. Now it is gray and chilly here in Memphis, but I still have the flavor of reading Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, in my mind – sun setting late, a few leisurely boats motoring by, and a hummingbird hitting the nectar for the last time. Seraphina is a ungainly young woman living in the kingdom of Goredd. She has a knack for music and mathematics and lurking at the back of the room in the hopes of being overlooked.
Goredd is getting ready to celebrate 40 years of peace between dragons and humans, and the heir to the throne is murdered, ostensibly by dragons. Was the assassination carried out by humans or dragons who would return to the old ways? Seraphina, secretly half dragon and half human, is pulled into this intrigue, and finds support from a range of unusual characters, including a prince and a princess, musicians, dragons, and half dragons. Her interactions with these characters are nuanced and the side characters have personalities (dragonalities?), motivations, and backstories that are deftly crafted. The main doesn’t get bogged down in these various characters; Hartman keeps the story moving along and allows Seraphina to develop as a very charming character.
This was a great, swift, summer read with a well crafted universe, a political intrigue that was challenging for the protagonists but resolved reasonably. I look forward to future stories about Seraphina and her friends as they battle new enemies.