Seraphina is a story that provides you with romance and crime from an old-fashioned vein which I almost thought we’d never see again. It is also a fantasy featuring dragons, which isn’t the first thing you expect from a romantic mystery. Rachel Hartman writes so well, and with such humour, that I began rejoicing by the third page.
Set in a fantasy past, 16-year-old Seraphina lives with the royal family as the music mistress in a country where humans have had to learn to co-exist with dragons, who can take on a kind of pretend human form, but who are very different from the humans. One of the Princes has just been murdered, and people fear it was done by a dragon.
Because Seraphina has special talents, and has more knowledge of dragons than most, she ends up searching for the murderer along with Prince Lucian and his betrothed, Princess Glisselda. Seraphina’s lifelong mentor Orma provides her with support, as do some imaginary creatures Seraphina needs to deal with on a daily basis.
Needless to say, Seraphina has a dreadful secret, which must remain a secret. And she falls in love. It’s a classic love story, and it’s not until you encounter one, that you realise they are as rare as gold dust these days.
Very satisfying. I believe this is a standalone book. There could conceivably be more, although personally I’d like to leave things here.
(When the paperback arrived, I looked at the cover, read the blurb and skimmed a few pages, and decided it wasn’t for me in more ways than one, and quickly dispatched it to ‘the other room,’ from which it was rescued the next day after some chatter on fb persuaded me to do The Second Look thing. Very glad I did. And I’m a little surprised to have heard nothing about the hardback last summer. Or anything at all.*)
* It is, of course, on the Carnegie longlist…