Seraphina by Rachel Hartman



Seraphina by Rachel Hartman ISBN: 9780375866562

Plot Summary: When Prince Rufus is murdered, all signs point to dragons. This strains tensions between the dragons living in the city and the humans, who are already suspicious of the peace treaty. Seraphina has been instructed by her father to not draw attention to herself so as not to expose the fact that her mother was a dragon. But she is compelled to help the investigation, along with Prince Lucian, who is smart and shrewd enough to discover her secret.

Critical Evaluation: The setting of this book was well realized. This is set in a fictional town, where dragons and humans live side by side. Details about the way this world works, rules, and culture are given through the experiences of Seraphina. She talks about how her dragon mentor does not have to wear the bells customarily worn by dragons because he is a scholar. In her travels she goes through many different areas of the city, from the nice, human area she and her father live in, to the ghetto-like neighborhoods where more lowly creatures live. As musical assistant to the court composer, Seraphina is privy to a lot of conversations and different levels of the society. So she knows how dragon brains work differently than humans, which was fun for me to notice in her own actions. She also hears and sees how people treat dragons. All of this combines to create a world that is vivid and believable.

There is a sequel in the works, and some important details are left up in the air at the end of this book. The particular mystery at the focus of this story is resolved, but I was frustrated not to have a better resolution for other subplots. I think that is just the burden I must carry for having read an engaging and interesting story.

Reader’s Annotation: Dragons and humans have been living together somewhat peacefully, but the death of Prince Rufus and the signs that a dragon did it throw everything in the balance. Can Seraphina help Prince Lucian discover who’s behind it, without revealing her own dangerous secret?

Information about the author: Rachel Hartman was born in Lexington, Kentucky. She has a bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature. Instead of getting a graduate degree, Rachel spent her time drawing comic books.

She has lived in a variety of places, like Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She currently lives in Vancouver, British Colombia with her family. “Seraphina” is her first novel.

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

Curriculum ties, if any: It could be used to discuss acceptance of people different from yourself.

Booktalking Ideas: This will appeal most to readers of fantasy and those who like dragon stories. It is frequently compared to “Eragon” so I might mention that. I would also emphasize that this is a mystery and has intrigue and action.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  Seraphina is sixteen in this story. She holds a full time job, which I think older teens will identify with more. Publisher’s Weekly recommends it for ages 12 and up, and School Library Journal for grades 7 and up.

Challenge Issues:

  • Minor language
  • Minor violence
  • Drinking

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the book.
    • A description of who the book is best suited for.
    • A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
    • My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the book
    • Alternative works a student could read
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

None of the potential issues with this book come up very often. I would be surprised if this book was challenged, but that being said, it has positive messages for women, as well as on being honest and doing what is right. It also meets the recreational needs of teens.

Why did you include this book? : I had heard good things about the book and wanted another type of fantasy to highlight.

Reference Page:

Hartman, R. (2013). Bio. Retrieved from


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