A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Seraphina is a clever and well-constructed coming-of-age fantasy novel that won the 2013 William C. Morris Award winner for best debut book for teens. Its female protagonist is smart, resourceful, brave, and empathetic, and the novel promotes the value of honesty. Language is infrequent ("piss" and "bitch" a couple of times, "bastard" as an insult), and the small amount of violence is depicted with restraint. Seraphina is wounded in an assassination attempt, and her arm is deliberately cut to prove that she doesn't have dragon's blood. Two other characters are poisoned, one fatally. None of these incidents is described with excessive detail. Dragons and humans are able to interbreed, but the details aren't discussed explicitly.
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What's the story?
In the kingdom of Goredd, humans and shape-shifting dragons have endured an uneasy truce for four decades. But as the citizens prepare for the arrival of the leader of the dragon world, musician Seraphina Dombergh finds herself in a dangerous position. A member of the Goredd royal family has been murdered, and Seraphina finds herself drawn into the investigation, along with Prince Lucian Kiggs. As they search for answers that might prevent a civil war, Seraphina struggles with a potentially deadly secret -- that she herself is the product of an illegal marriage between her human father and her deceased dragon mother.
Is it any good?
SERAPHINA is a cleverly conceived and well-executed coming-of-age fantasy novel, rich in detail yet not overwhelming in its dragon lore. Author Rachel Hartman has created a singularly resourceful and empathetic heroine in young music teacher Seraphina Dombegh. The action scenes are well choreographed, but much of the plot's power comes from the emotional interplay between the novel's unusual and well-realized characters. Clearly only the first installment of a new series, Seraphina ends on a high note, with promise of more captivating adventures to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why strong female characters like Seraphina often appear in fantasy books. How do you think she compares with other fantasy heroines?
Why are dragons so popular in literature, from traditional fairy tales to contemporary fantasy novels?
Why is intermarriage between people of different races, religions, or societies controversial?
- Author: Rachel Hartman
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Arts and Dance
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: July 10, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.