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(3.5/5 ⭐️) “Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.” Secrets can only stay secrets for so long.

Seraphina is about a teenaged girl who holds a dangerous personal and family secret punishable by death. She must navigate court life as an esteemed musician while holding this secret and battling the dangers it poses. More than that, she has a few mental (internal) struggles that go hand and hand with her secret, yet pose a separate battle to fight. When the story starts off with a funeral for the monarchy’s crowned prince, Seraphina finds herself quickly involved in the investigation of a crime. She must work with the Prince Kiggs and Princess Selda to solve the murder. In so doing, she changes and in the end, learns to confront her secrets. The plot itself is straightforward and typical, but that’s okay as long as the story is fresh, unique, and captivating. Unfortunately, the story fell flat.

I’ve had this book on my shelf for years. I wanted to read it mainly because of the stunning cover. That’s what caught my eye, that and the fact that there are dragon shifters, which is something I write about in my own fantasy work (and love).

I was oddly disappointed in this story. Shocking, considering there isn’t a single dragon book I haven’t liked. This is one I could live without and almost regret spending the last two weeks on, given how extensive my reading list is. I am not sure if I’ll be reading the sequel even though I own it. Maybe after I take a break. I always gauge a book’s usefulness to me by how much inspiration it offers. I can usually read a book and get at least one shred of inspiration for my own work. That didn’t happen. So what went wrong?

Seraphina is a well-written novel. It follows a fairly cookie-cutter plot, with all story archs in tact, a straightforward story core, etc. The world building is mediocre, but adequate. There wasn’t a huge amount of depth to the world overall. Most of the depth came from the religion of the people, which wasn’t very fleshed out aside from the sayings the people would utter. Why then did this story miss it’s mark? In my opinion it was due to a lack of emotion and relatability. Emotion is everything in a story and so is relatability. It just wasn’t there until the second half of the book, and even then, it kind of fell flat.

Sreaphina’s character is hard to connect with in the beginning. That’s saying a lot because I’m a pianist and she’s a musician. One would think that sharing a mutual passion would automatically make a book character relatable. Seraphina is a typical “I’m wounded and hiding a huge secret from the world” kind of character. Someone like that should be relatable. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me. This is perhaps because the entire character introduction, including the prologue and first chapter, is a lot of telling and very little showing. By the way, I still don’t know what Seraphina, Selda, and Kiggs look like after finishing the story. Maybe a little more description wouldn’t hurt. Usually I don’t care about lack of character physical descriptions, but perhaps it might have added something here.

Characters aside, there wasn’t anything to connect me in the first third of the book. The story starts with a mysterious death. The problem was, the death meant nothing to me. I didn’t care. I knew nothing about the character that died and felt none of the sadness any of the other characters felt. I just didn’t feel the motivation.

Finally, I would like to add that I’ve definitely grown out of cliche love triangles. This one ends on a huge love triangle. “I’ve got to be with this girl but I really wish I could be with you. Perhaps someday,” kind of B.S. I’m up for a love triangle now and again. Hell, I have a small one in my book. But in all honesty, this one just left kind of a bad taste in my mouth. No thanks. Oh well...

Three point five stars merely because the ideas were there, the writing quality was adequate, and I did just manage to enjoy it in parts of the second half. Just wish the story would have been executed better.


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