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Seraphina by R. Hartman

Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2012. Print.

Rachel Hartman’s debut novel, Seraphina, is a fantastical journey into a world where humans and shape shifting dragons live among each other. The novel follows Seraphina, a strong and intelligent female character with a talent for music, as she is caught between two races. Hartman has masterfully created a new religion, culture, language, political system, and multiple species in order to fully immerse the reader in Seraphina’s world.

Hartman’s dragons, a unique breed of cold, unemotional mathematicians, are mostly intrigued and confused by what they consider to be overly emotional and artistic humans. The strong differences between the two races are cause for tension, but Seraphina has a mysterious gift of being able to understand how dragons think and why they react to humans in such curious and sometimes dangerous ways.

Seraphina is a story of political unrest and adventure, with a little romance added in for good measure. Not only is the book a quick and entertaining read, but the glossary is not to be missed. That’s right, the glossary! Hartman created much of the foreign vocabulary in the novel, and the glossary is the place where her sense of humour and criticism of the world she has created really shine through. Some of the more challenging vocabulary in the novel is defined in the glossary so readers who might feel discouraged by the language should know that the author has invented most of these words. For a good laugh and some added detail about Seraphina’s world, the glossary is a great way to finish. Seraphina is the first in what Hartman has planned to be a series.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Kymberly Sobchyshyn

Kymberly is currently in her second year of schooling to obtain a Master’s in Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. In her free time she enjoys traveling, ancient history, and reading of the fiction and non-fiction variety.