This review was originally posted on amazon on July 20, 2012
First off, I love the cover. It's gorgeous, even on a computer screen, and is a nice change from the ubiquitous pretty girl in a ball gown which seems to be on about every third YA book being published these days. The drawing is fabulous, and really helped me to visualize how the Hartmann saw the world that she was building.
Second, the world building. Far be it from me to go all squealing fan girly, but dang it, this was some good world building. The richness is unbelievable, from philosophy to religion to music. I loved everything about the world of Goredd and the dragons and the dragon/human interaction.
Third, the richness of the characters. Seraphina is internally conflicted, and occasionally filled with self-loathing, which is her birthright. As the daughter of a dragon and a human, she is considered a freak, and an abomination by every one who knows about her parentage, right down to her own father. Her status of a half-breed, though, in a sense, is freeing. Her loyalties are not with one, nor the other, and she can choose who, and what, to believe in based upon what is right, not what is expected. Lucien Kiggs, her love interest, is almost always worthy of her regard. And how refreshing is it to have a Princess - Gisselda - who is not inane, who is not petty, and who is more than just a pretty face?
The first third of the book is a bit of a rough go, but the last half is a headlong rush to the finish. It's not that the first half is poorly paced, it just took me a while to warm up to the characters and to become so deeply engrossed in the story that it played itself out across my mind like actors on a stage.
Finally, the love story between Linn - Seraphina's mother - and Claude - her father - is almost unbearably poignant. I don't know if Hartman plans to write a prequel, or a story, that tells Linn's story, but I hope she does. Just the little bits and pieces that she gave her readers in this book, through Seraphina, about Linn and about her decision to leave behind her people because she fell in love with a human is so compelling that thinking about it hurts a little bit.
I really, really liked this book.