Book talk: What would you do if you had a secret that could endanger your life? Would you live alone, far away from anyone who could possibly discover it? Or is there something that could tempt you out of hiding, and into danger? For Seraphina, that temptation is music. It leads her to take a job at court, where she'll be under closer scrutiny than ever before. Everyone is tense as the forty year anniversary of the peace treaty with the dragons draws near. Seraphina tries to stay beneath the radar, but quickly finds herself embroiled in a plot to sabotage the peace and start another, bloody war.
Rocks my socks: I cannot say enough about how much I loved this book! The characters were complex and endearing, the plot mysterious and compelling, and the world building fantastically detailed. My heart broke for Seraphina as she lived with her secret and the guilt of having to hide it. The themes of prejudice around the dragons and humans learning to live side by side moved me. The many references to music and how it affected each character were fascinating (even to someone like me whose knowledge of musical notation is basically that a doe is a female deer and so on.) The political intrigue was exciting and the way they tried to solve their problems through diplomacy reminded me of Star Trek in the best possible way. The dragons reinforced this comparison as they reminded me of the vulcans with their insistence on reason and distaste for emotion. They had great lines like "I bear you an appropriate interest, within accepted emotive parameters." I absolutely loved being lost in this world and I can't wait until I can go back to it with the sequel!
Rocks in my socks: none
Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of traditional fantasy, and fans of dragons in particular. Lovers of math, music, and outsider stories will find plenty to love. I'd say it's fine for 6th grade and up.
Rachel Hartman has a site with information about herself and her books, as well as a page with more details about the Saints from the novels
Random House has a site for the book with reviews, excerpts, and more information
There's a great, live-action trailer for the book:
"That's the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you. If one believes there is truth in art--and I do--then it's troubling how similar the skill of performing is to lying. Maybe lying is itself a kind of art. I think about that more than I should."
"Someone should love you. I will bite him if he will not."
"Ah, I could last a long time on those smiles. I would sow and reap them like wheat."
"Once I had feared that telling the truth would be like falling, that love would be like hitting the ground, but here I was, my feet firmly planted, standing on my own."
"We were all monsters and bastards, and we were all beautiful."
“And I realized a wondrous truth: that knowledge could be our treasure, that there were things humankind knew that we did not, that our conquest need not comprise taking and killing, but could consist of our mutual conquest of ignorance and distrust.”