Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on July 10th 2012
Genres: YA Fantasy
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.
I was warned going into Seraphina that it is a very slow read and I am so grateful for that, because I was prepared. This book weaves a very interesting and complex world by showing us what is going on in the present as well as some events from the past. It takes it’s time. It is built around mystery, both with the murder mystery element going on, as well as the mystery of the dragons and how they fit into society. I found the world very interesting, but it did make it hard to connect to the characters. The characters felt distant. I tend to prefer character driven narratives, and this tended to focus more on the world. While I did like the characters overall, I didn’t find myself pulling for them. Also, the romantic subplot was almost too much of a slow burn, which I usually love but this was just dragged out a little more than I would have preferred. It took a solid 300 pages for me to get into this story.
Overall, I really enjoyed the world that was presented in this story, and some of the events that happened towards the end of the book have me really interested in the sequel that is coming out this year. Fans of slower paced book with lots of world building will enjoy this one.
Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes, Michelle Rowen
Series: Falling Kingdoms #3
Published by Razorbill on December 9th 2014
Genres: YA Fantasy
In GATHERING DARKNESS, book three of the New York Times bestselling Falling Kingdoms series, the stakes have never been higher as three teams push forward on a race to find the Kindred, the four elemental crystals possessing ancient all-powerful magic, first:
Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred - the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic...
• THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.
• THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia's overpowering magic - all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.
• THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia's powers to unveil the Kindred.
The only certainty in the dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica... but fate can be fickle when magic is involved.
I LOVED everything about Gathering Darkness. It built on the foundation of the previous books, and is the best book of the series so far. I thoroughly enjoy the character development in this series, and the characters did not disappoint in this installment. They have all come so far since book one, and are not the same people we’ve seen in previous books.
My only complaint about this book was that the Kraeshians seemed very flat and two-dimensional as characters. But, ultimately, I overlooked that because of how well our main characters are developed.
We have reached the middle of the series, and the climax of this book has me very excited for the rest of the series.
This series is a very fun ride, and I recommend it for any fan of character-driven fantasy.