Author: Rachel Hartman
Published: July 10, 2012
Source: review copy from publisher, via NetGalley
A treaty may have ended the devastating human/dragon wars, but it didn't end the enmity between the two species, just forced it beneath the surface. As the fiftieth anniversary of the treaty's signing approaches, a royal prince is murdered, apparently by dragons, and a peace that was fragile to begin with threatens to shatter under the strain.
In the middle of all this is Seraphina Dombegh, the court composer's assistant. She struggles to keep her head down and avoid notice, because anonymity is her only safeguard against the revelation of a devastating secret: she is half-dragon, half-human, and an abomination to both species. Against her best efforts, she keeps finding herself in position and places where she gets noticed, particularly by the good-hearted Princess Glisselda, heir to the throne, and her bastard cousin, Prince Lucian Kiggs, the sharp-eyed and quick-witted head of royal security.
Balanced precariously between her logical dragon side and her emotional human one, Seraphina soon comes to realize that she alone may be the key to keeping this peace . . . or to starting a war.
I read this one way back, and I'm so excited that it's finally being released so I can squeal, "OMYGAW THIS BOOK!" at all my blog readers. I'm not entirely sure I can talk coherently about this book, because there's so much I want to gush over. Seraphina, first. So you know how the Forever Young Adult girls award their BFF charms? I will give all my BFF charms to Seraphina. All of them. Awkward and unsteady in her own skin, yet endlessly practical. Quick on her feet, quick with her wits. I want this girl on my side.
It's quite a trick to write such a fascinating and complex person, much less a second. Lucky for us, Hartman's managed it with Lucian Kiggs. A royal bastard, he's caught inescapably between two worlds, just as Seraphina is, so he has special insight into what makes her tick. While he's occasionally not sure what to make of her, he'll back her up in a split second. Faster. Is there romaaaance? In a bumpy, sneaky, when-did-that-happen kind of way that completely works for these characters, and I'll take that over sparkly-eyed swoons of destiny any day.
I like this one for twisty-turny political fantasy fans, the ones who've finished all of Megan Whalen Turner's books and are begging for more. Beware, though. Give this to them and they will be back within a day, begging for more of Seraphina.