Sometimes you get to a place in a book and you just have to stop because it's just so satisfying and perfect and everything you want in a book and I stopped at page 266 in this one and just savored it. That's where the romance ripped through a bit of the tension... that's when HE starts to have some idea of who she is... her truth... that's where this other time and place have become something you trust and believe in. Sigh...it's such a joy to read a book that has been thought out so thoroughly.
Seraphina lives in a land of dragons and humans and a tentative forty year old treaty. The Ardmagar, the Comonot, the head dragon, is about to pay a formal visit to this land of hers and the tensions are mounting. Can those scaly, fire mongers be trusted? Prince Rufus has just been found in the marsh face down ... well actually headless. Only a dragon would kill and take the head... or is there someone who was trying to create a deep mistrust of the dragons in the realm?
Seraphina, around age 15, has a secret. She is both dragon and human. Her father lives in terror that she will be found out and he has tried to keep her hidden and unnoticed to protect her. But Seraphina's musical ability shines through and she has been drawn into the world of the court, tutoring the human, Princess Glisselda, on musical instruments. This princess is betrothed to a bastard, Prince Lucian.
His wits and curiosity are unbeknownst to him drawing him deeper and closer to Seraphina's secret and the two are struggling against their deepening feelings for each other.
Serafina also practices putting her self in ard. Dragons prefer a sense of order, ethical and physical rightness, in the world and they put themselves and their world in ard. Seraphina does this each evening by visiting the seventeen characters in her own mind and carefully putting them to sleep, into a tree, locked into a cottage and so forth. She also finds herself overcome by visions that come to her randomly and deliver her to a world left to her by her mother on her deathbed.
The world that Seraphina inhabits is wonderful. We get the medieval sights and smells along with the tinkling sound of the silver bells worn by the dragons as they walk about in the human world. It's got meat pies and roasting chestnuts, wooden clogs and scrawny badly groomed dragons. Dragons also have a human form, a sarantraas, that they "don" in deference to their human neighbors. It comes to life for us and adds that extra all important ingredient that draws you in and assures you it's an adventure you can join in.
But there is treachery afoot. Someone has murdered and perhaps has plans to fuel the mistrust of many who harbor a lingering hatred for the dragons.
Seraphina is beginning to burst the chains of all of the prejudice that has held her down and she's beginning to honor her own self and her own truth. And she's fallen in love with the best kind of fellow. She's learning the best lesson of all... you don't have to fear yourself.
This is a magnificent fantastic world painted with dimensions we can experience for ourselves, believe in and begin to inhabit. This is a girl with a "curse" and an identity that is confused and denied. This is a romance that we can all root for. Delightful characters whether human or dragon emerge as the adventures carry us richly forward with hope and thoughtfulness. This is magic we can hold on to. This is love we can hope for. This is a girl who feels familiar and who gives us that answer we dream about. 465 pages and ages 12 and up (Barb)