Seraphina (Seraphina 1) by Rachel Hartman

Stars: 5 out of 5

This book has been languishing on my TBR list since 2013, and I’m glad I joined the Cleaning out your TBR list this year, because I have read some amazing books that I had added on my list way back when, and never got around to reading. Seraphina is one such book.

I don’t usually read YA or romance. I used to love these genders when I was younger, but I grew tired of the tropes, and some typical plot lines in these book usually drive me up the wall, like the inevitable love triangle or a too dumb to live heroine who nevertheless is a special snowflake. 

I am glad to say that none of these tropes are present in Seraphina. This is a very well-written story with an interesting world, fleshed out characters, and a clever plot. This doesn’t read like YA. No, scratch that. This reads like what good YA should be.

I loved Seraphina as a character. She is smart and headstrong, but also vulnerable. She has unresolved issues and a deep sense of worthlessness. I am glad that her journey in this book is of self-discovery, but more importantly of discovering her own worth. She goes from someone who tries to be as ordinary and unnoticeable as possible, to someone who can perform in front of a ballroom full of people and not flinch from the limelight. She goes from hating herself for being half-dragon, to embracing her heritage and feeling a sense of pride. 

I also love that by the end of the book, she finally accepts the other grotesques as part of her tribe, instead of just figments of her imagination that she had to hide in her mental garden. I could feel her joy when she met Lans and Abdo, and even Dame Okra. When she finally allowed herself to feel like she was part of a family.

The central theme of this book is self-discovery and evolution, I think. Selda and Kriggs grow up tremendously through this book as well, and a lot of it is thanks to Seraphina. Even Orma finally makes the decision not to hide his feelings anymore or feel ashamed of his family. Everybody learns and evolves through the events of this book and comes out better at the end of it. Or at least, with a better sense of what their purpose in life is. 

And even though this book leaves our heroes with a lot of uncertainty – a war with dragons looming on the horizon, the Queen’s health in jeopardy, a shaky alliance with other human kingdoms, it also leaves us with a sense of renewed hope. The status quo of the last 40 years has been broken, but hopefully something better will emerge out of it in the end. I also hope that Seraphina will find her place in this world and her worth.

I am excited to see where the story goes from here, so I have already purchased the second book in the series.

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