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Seraphina

Seraphina - SERAPHINA had been on my radar for about 8 months before it finally found its way into my hands. In fact, it involved some sadness, some jealousy, some drunken chats, and finally the website Random Buzzers before I opened my door one day to find SERAPHINA sitting there, glowing with rainbows and harps and an angel that whispered, “It is here.”I honestly don’t read as much high fantasy as I used to, so the first thirty pages for me were a warm up and return to this genre I once loved (before I ditched it for science fiction). It’s the story of a young musician hiding a rather deep secret – she is the product of a relationship between a dragon (a species that is supposed to not be emotional or capable of love) and a human who didn’t know her secret. Raised in the aftermath of a war between humans and dragons, Seraphina has spent her entire life trying to stay out of the spotlight, but when she has visions and falls deeper into a conspiracy, she is forced out.Oh, SERAPHINA, I love thee. Let me count the ways…This book is a thinking person’s YA fantasy. It requires paying close attention, a dictionary for most, and patience. I was confused for a bit, especially once we enter Seraphina’s Garden of Grotesques. I had to reread a few lines going, “Who? What? Whaaaa?” By page 100, though, I was hooked, and it was only a mixture of business, sickness, and duties to my blog that kept me from sitting down one evening and reading this straight through in one sitting. It’s a long book, but the prose kept me hooked.“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.” “I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.” “Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.” With SERAPHINA, as a reader you are attacked from two fronts – from the amazing prose and from the wonderful plot. The development of the story is well-crafted and executed with amazing precision, down to every detail, and when the cast of characters is large and tangled, it takes nothing short of an expert. In her debut novel, Hartman’s tale of love, fear, war, and triumph is nothing short of remarkable and took me by surprise. I kind of went into this expecting that I would like it. Maybe even like it a lot. But love it? Nope, but I did. I wanted to hug this book and kiss it and turn it into a Prince so I could marry him and have amazing babies.Just kidding. That would be weird.Seraphina herself is an admirable character, although I did have some issues with her rather lusty instalove of the Prince. Her entire life she has been an outcast, albeit determined to succeed and prove herself to her distant father. Cursed with dragon scales that mark her as a freak living in a society that hates dragons after the attacks that decimated their country, she has a lot to lose, especially since she has become the assistant to the music master for the Queen and royal family. Which gets Seraphina into even MORE trouble when she begins to realize she has some pretty heavy feelings for Prince Lucian, the cousin of Princess Glisselda, who is also his fiancée. The characters are wonderful, the world building is nothing short of phenomenal, and Hartman wooed me with her lush prose. But having to wait an entire year for book two?VERDICT: A must read debut of 2012, this book is magical, lyrical, and mystical – SERAPHINA is the arrival of a great new voice in YA fantasy.