Random House, 2012
Dragons and people. Not exactly a match made in heaven. Something about the whole "big-as-a-building" and "fire-breathing" aspects of dragonhood makes them fairly scary - or at least a major security threat. But the kingdom of Goredd has made peace of sorts with the dragons, many of whom now live among them in human form (marked by silver bells worn at the shoulder). It's a relationship that works, but is not without tension - especially as the anniversary of the treaty approaches, and with it the (dragon) General's state visit. Among all the intrigue and drama surrounding the upcoming visit, there's another level of mystery: Seraphina.
Seraphina is an amazingly talented musician, with a mysterious, secretive past. Despite trying to maintain a very low profile and avoid attention - even positive attention - that might draw inquiring minds to questions best left unexplored, Seraphina finds herself in the heart of the investigation surrounding the suspicious murder of one of the royal family. Working closely with the Queen's Guard, Prince Lucian, Seraphina begins to walk a fine line between providing much needed assistance and insight and telling too much of her truth. It's a complicated dance, and one that only increases in tension and danger. Soon, Seraphina's secret becomes known - as everything else also becomes clear, and the Queen (and the rest of the royal family) find that things are so very different from what they appeared.
An engrossing and complex read, Seraphina is a stunning debut. I loved the handling of the dragons, and their ability to shift in and out of human form. In spite of dragons being "emotionless," they add a delightfully snarky touch at times - and, some at least, have a stunningly golden heart. There's depth and mystery. I for one had no idea who the culprit was until the end. There's all sorts of tension - but the good kind, that keeps you reading, and makes you pick sides and start cheering for characters. And then there's Seraphina, who goes through so much on a personal level, before emerging a much stronger and more complete character. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment, seeing where this wild story goes - there's certainly much potential for excitement and drama!
Book provided by my local library.