Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!
Author: Rachel Hartman
Goodreads Description: In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”
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.
Why it’s worth it: This is not another basic dragon story–and trust me, I read EVERY dragon book I could get my hands on as a kid. When Seraphina came out, people upon people (including Tamora Pierce!) said I should read this book … and I didn’t. The blurb on the front from Christopher Paolini didn’t inspire me, since I’d long outgrown his books, and I was so … tired of dragons. I really thought there was nothing new in that trope for me.
BOY WAS I WRONG.
Again, I repeat, I’ve read A LOT of dragon stories. Most of them, really. This one, however, takes the lore and turns it on its head. These dragons can take human(ish) form, and are extremely mathematical and pragmatic. They’re kind of like the wise dragons we so often see, except for the fact that they can’t “human” very well and therefore their wisdom often comes across cold and alien. The set up of humans and dragons at tentative peace is also not new, but Hartman brings it into a whole new political and economic context that makes it interesting again.
Seraphina herself is a fun character. I loved getting to know her and watching her grow. The cast of characters around her is also pretty great, and I didn’t even hate the romance aspect. Actually, after reading Shadow Scale (the second book in the duology), I’m AMAZED at how Hartman has yet again taken something that I thought I’d seen before and turned in into something COMPLETELY unexpected. And I don’t say that often.
(Yes, I know that Shadow Scale also made my list of Top 5 Disappointing Books of 2015. IT WASN’T A BAD BOOK. It just wasn’t as good as Seraphina. Don’t let that stop you from reading this series.)
…I literally derailed myself WHILE WRITING THIS POST looking for information on when her next book is coming out. That’s how bad I want it. She’s writing another duology set in Seraphina’s world, and I NEED IT because I am so not over Seraphina’s story. So Shadow Scale wasn’t as good. It’s still a great book. READ THESE.
Read it if you’re looking for: dragons, a love story that won’t make you gag, interesting characters, fantasy, not another fantasy trilogy, excellent worldbuilding, strong female friendships