In Seraphina’s world, dragons can take the shape of humans. Mathematical creatures by nature, dragons perceive the human world much like Mr. Spock on "Star Trek": logically and literally. While dragons and humans may coexist, their relationship is one of distrust and suspicion. Dragons’ speech and actions betray no human emotions, and they are forbidden from falling in love with humans.

A talented palace musician, Seraphina is half-dragon, a secret she must vehemently protect. Thus, her isolation is her greatest protector—until she befriends Prince Lucian Kiggs and gets caught up in the investigation of his uncle’s death. Prince Lucian is quick to see through Seraphina’s lies, and when she suspects a larger conspiracy, hiding her true identity becomes nearly impossible. Like her dragon mother, Seraphina must decide if she is willing to sacrifice self-preservation for love.

Debut novelist Rachel Hartman has created a unique and imaginative fantasy kingdom. Her world-building is so detailed and well-integrated, each character and place so well-drawn, one wonders if they truly exist somewhere. Seraphina is a strong heroine, a young woman who straddles both the dragon and human worlds but is welcomed by neither. Her talent and intellect are matched only by Prince Lucian, and yet she feels unworthy of him—a sentiment with which most readers will empathize. The novel ends with new conflict, so readers can expect more from the talented Hartman.

Endorsed by fantasy powerhouses such as Christopher Paolini and Tamora Pierce, Seraphina is an engaging and innovative fantasy that uses the plights of dragons and humans as an allegory for the real prejudices we all must face.

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