For avid readers there are many books that are enjoyable, many we might even consider brilliant, but only a few that actually leave a lasting impression on us—for me, Seraphina is one of those books.
With her novel, Seraphina, Rachel Hartman joins the ranks of JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, and CS Lewis. Much like Middle Earth, the alternate-medieval world Hartman populates with dragons, half-dragons, and humans, is so well drawn, so interesting, I would give anything to visit it.
More impressive than the world Seraphina lives in, however, is Seraphina herself. In a world where neither humans nor dragons accept half-breeds, Seraphina must hide her silvery scales in order to fit in. Yet, while her scales remain hidden beneath her gown, her prickly personality and all too human tendency to lie land her right in the thick of trouble. While the characters in Seraphina have the requisite amount of special abilities, I believe the story as a whole rises above other books in the genre because Hartman focuses more on the emotional truth behind her character’s motivations than on their special abilities. Also, just as we can imagine Harry Potter’s world existing side by side with our own humdrum muggle universe; so too, Hartman makes it easy to imagine a world where dragons and humans live in an uneasy, yet peaceful coexistence. I love, love, love Seraphina and cannot wait for more books in the series.
If the above sounds more like a review than a book discussion, I apologize. Almost from page one, I found myself gushing over Seraphina every time I told someone about it. However, I have saved one, if not negative, then rather much like Seraphina, prickly point for discussion.
In an interview I watched with Rachel Hartman, she admitted she has a love of words. That, my dear Rachel, is an understatement. Seraphina is filled with more “big” words of whose definition I was utterly clueless than any other book of fiction I have ever read. Luckily, I read Seraphina on my iPad Kindle app. I say “luckily” because on the Kindle application when you highlight a word the definition pops up. Had I been reading a plain old hardcover or paperback edition of Seraphina…well, I wonder if I would have enjoyed it so much.
For those of you how have read Seraphina (or perhaps some other book filled with large, unusual, or antiquated words) what are your thoughts? Does having a definition readily available increase, or even radically change your enjoyment of a book?
Comment below…I look forward to your thoughts.