OK, I promised 5 stars for Seraphina, but I am changing my mind now that I have read the entire book. 4.5 instead--it somehow almost made it to perfection, but not quite. However, Hartman has done an exceptional job in all respects--world-building, cultural features, deep and believable characters, unusual plotting, even though the basic theme comes down to girl meets boy, girl loses boy, and so on. Music is an integral part to its lyrical quality, which enriches and proves yet again that music is universal.
The themes in Seraphina resonate with current society and across all gender and ethnic lines--personal liberty vs. social safety, prejudice vs. tolerance, self-harm and self-confidence, family secrets, and others. The main character in this book is a young woman, yet she is extremely complex, conflicted and complicated and at the same time perfectly likeable and even admirable. One of the best features is the no-nonsense practical approach Seraphina has to crises. She doesn't panic or make things out to be worse than they are--she deals, and she does what's best even if it isn't convenient, comfortable or personally fulfilling. Hurrah! A ringing message to take from this book's examples is, yes, be true to yourself, but also be realistic, compassionate, and thoughtful.
I think one of my secrets will be out after this review: I love books about dragons. So you might not like it as much as I did, if you aren't as crazy about dragon books. Naomi Novik or Anne McCaffrey fans, I think this book will make your favorites list. Those who haven't tried fantasy or dragon lovers, this book is a great one to sample. Part of the beauty of this book for me was listening to actor Mandy William's lovely voice and accent. I've heard a lot of audiobooks, but her voice is a favorite among women narrators. Expect a sequel--Rachel Hartman has already said yes! ~ Tessa Eger 4.5 out of 5 stars