Week 6, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

WEEK 6, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.20.05 PMHartman, R. (2012). Seraphina: A novel [CD]. New York, NY: Random House.

Summary:
This enchanting fantasy novel meshes the human and dragon world as the 4oth anniversary of peace between the two species approaches.  In this world, humans and dragons live amongst each other, dragons even folding themselves to look like humans on occasion. Even though 40 years have gone by in peace, tensions grow as Prince Rufus is found beheaded, a typical sign of death by dragon. Seraphina, a half-dragon, half-human with a past meant to be kept hidden, has no choice but to get involved with the investigation of Prince Rufus’ death at Prince Lucian’s request. Will she be able to keep her musical talent and her secret past hidden and protected?

Keywords: dragons; humans; silver blood; red blood; musical talent

What I Think:

Unlike most books that I have discussed on this blog, I was not a huge fan of this one. First of all, a dark fantasy book revolving around a conflict between dragons and humans simply isn’t my style. Due to this, I found the book hard to follow and had to continue to re-listen to multiple tracks on the CD. I should have chosen to read the book in print in order to avoid this, but I could still foresee me having to look back and reread pages and sections of the book in order to fully comprehend. Because of having to reread or re-listen, it took a lot longer for me to listen to this book than it has for others in the past. For these reasons, I thought the book was hard to follow and conclusively unenjoyable.

Although I did not personally enjoy this book, it did include some excellent descriptive language. “It was as if I had been watching the world through oiled parchment or smoked glass, which was yanked abruptly away. Everything grew very clear and bright; the music burst forth in majesty; we stood still and the room turned around us; and there was Kiggs, right in the middle of all of it, laughing” (Hartman, 2012, Chapter 17)*. This shows an example of how the narrator uses descriptive language to illustrate a situation. Therefore, excerpts from this novel would be a great model for students who often struggle to add descriptive details.

*Page numbers are not included because I listened to this book on CD and was not able to obtain a print copy.

What the Experts Think:

Hartman proves dragons are still fascinating in this impressive high fantasy. After 40 years of peace between human and dragon kingdoms, their much-maligned treaty is on the verge of collapse. Tensions are already high with an influx of dragons, reluctantly shifted to human forms, arriving for their ruler Ardmagar Comonot’s anniversary. But when Prince Rufus is found murdered in the fashion of dragons – that is, his head has been bitten off – things reach a fever pitch. Seraphina, a gifted court musician, wants only to go unnoticed as the investigation draws close: she is the unthinkable, a human-dragon half-breed, and her secret must be protected. But when Prince Lucían Kiggs asks for her help with the murder investigation, she has no choice but to become involved, even if Kiggs’ acute perceptiveness is a danger to her. Equal parts political thriller, murder mystery, bittersweet romance, and coming-of-age story, this is an uncommonly good fantasy centered upon an odd but lovable heroine who narrates in a well-educated diction with an understated, flippant tone. Fantasy readers young and old who appreciate immersion into a rich new culture will not mind the novel’s slow build, especially as it takes wing and hurtles toward the stratosphere. This is an exciting new series to watch. – Krista Hutley

Hutley, K. (2012). Seraphina. The Booklist, 108(18), 62.
Classroom Recommendations:

As I mentioned in the section titled “What I Think”, this novel had excellent descriptive details so that the reader could truly visualize characters, settings and events taking place during the plot. Conclusively, I would challenge students in my classroom to recreate this novel in the form of a visual representation. This could be in the form of a cartoon, graphic novel, or even video.

For example, if my students wanted to create a graphic novel form of this book, I would have the students create a summary of each of the chapters in graphic novel form to then turn into a full summary of the actual book. This could be done with a graphic novel as well as any other form of visual representation. This activity would encourage and require creativity in order to match to the descriptive details in the novel.

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