Oh dragons, how I usually avoid you like the plague. Was it Eragon that finally pushed me over the edge? I’m not certain, but slogging through those probably didn’t help. It took several excellent reviews and a push from a coworker to finally pick this one up. I’m so so so glad I did.
It is an interesting take on dragons. In this world dragons are shapeshifters, able to take human form even as they eschew human emotions. And I mean they eschew them to the point where they have a group of censors that will literally subject them to an emotional lobotomy if they feel too many of them! After a long war, humans and dragons are at peace. It isn’t the most stable peace, but it seems to be holding. At least, it was holding until the human prince is found beheaded.
This is a very character driven story and the characters are fantastic. Seraphina is our heroine. She’s got a tightly guarded secret (and the way the author reveals this is an absolute delight) She’s hidden this secret her entire life making her a bit of an outsider, so when she takes a position as assistant music maker at court she has a unique perspective that allows her to see things that others choose not to. And she is inevitably drawn into an unofficial investigation of the prince’s murder.
It is also a very tightly plotted book. I got the sense that the author knew exactly where she was going. Luckily for us, the writing is so good it doesn't feel forced or contrived. It feels like an excellent journey full of delicious court intrigue, interesting fantasy elements, and a secret identity that made me shriek. As much as I loved this book, I think I would have loved it even more if I had been able to read it in one stretch instead of a couple pages everyday in between interruptions (not the book’s fault obviously).
Anyhow, I am fairly certain this one will be, at the very least, shortlisted for the 2013 Morris Awards. I think it also has some very strong Printz potential as well. It was so very very good!
Book Source = Library Copy