Published: July 10 2012
Number of pages: 451
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre: fantasy, dragons, romance, politics, philosophy
Rating: 3/5 owl hoots
Four decades of peace have passed between the dragons and the humans. Since then, dragons could attend court after folding themselves in human form, and with their mathematical minds they have become scholars and teachers to universities. As the anniversary of the peace treaty draws near, tensions rise. Seraphina Dombegh is a gifted musician and fears both sides as a member of the royal family is murdered. People are suspicious that a dragon did it and as Phina works with the Captain of the Guard she begins her own investigation to the murder. But Seraphina struggles to keep her own dark secret, one so terrible that if discovered could lead to the end of her life.
This is my first time reading a dragon story and I was really excited to start this series. After finishing this I am now excited to read the sequel because I am completely absorbed in this story and after that ending, I am eager to see what happens between the dragons and the humans.
Rachel definitely wanted to focus on building up this unique world where two different species coexist together. There are several different characters that it was hard to keep track of them, so I had to use the glossary to remind myself what role they played as they reappeared in the plot. Rachel doesn’t tell you about this world, she shows it to you with descriptive detail beginning from the history of the peace treaty (which can be a little boring but I can see why she added that part to better understand the relationship between dragons and humans). There was plenty to learn about the kingdom of Goredd and the politics among the dragons. The dragons are really interesting as they are geniuses in mathematics and like to discuss and compare their philosophy with humans. There is clearly a level of superiority as dragons value academic and the arts more so than people.
Now to discuss our heroine: Seraphina. I don’t want to reveal her nature entirely or else that will spoil things, but she is the most intelligent, talented, and brave girl in the story. She is a gifted musician and is respected by the royal court for her skill. Everyday Phina struggles to live a normal life because she has to hide this dark secret that once discovered, could lead to an uproar. Phina is a clever and independent girl who hates having to rely others without giving them harm, and I really admired her for that. There is romance but it’s not light or fluffy like you see in most YA stories. Finally! I was so relieved as I am tired of reading cute, fluffy romances that always end up predictable.
When Phina meets the handsome and gentle Prince Riggs, you know there is going to be chemistry, but she doesn’t fall head over heels in love. Instead she deals with her feelings later as she has more important priorities to attend. That’s what I like about her as she focuses so much on the mission of protecting her family and friends, that Phina deals with the romantic stuff later (as if the girl didn’t have anything else to worry about). Seraphina’s Garden of Grotesque is one of the most confusing places that didn’t make sense to me how she was able to talk to these people in her mind. How was Phina connecting to these people? Is this supposed to be a special power that Phina has? I’m hoping for more explanation on this soon.
Overall the story was pretty good. The plot was slow to develop because of the heavy focus on the world building, so if you are looking for something more action and adventure pack, than this book may not be for you. But who knows? I too like reading those kinds of stories but I still enjoyed this one.