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Rachel Hartman

As a child, Rachel Hartman played cello and lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters. The famous Renaissance song “Mille Regretz” first moved Rachel to write a fantasy novel rooted in music, but her inspiration didn’t end there. She wrote Seraphina while listening to medieval Italian polyphony, Breton bagpipe-rock, prog metal, Latin American baroque, and Irish sean nós. Rachel Hartman lives with her family in Vancouver BC. Learn more at Rachel Hartman’s website.

Bill Chats with Rachel Hartman

Rachel Hartman is the author of Seraphina, which my review called “nuanced,” “layered,” and marked by “complex characterization matched by depth of theme.” Ms. Hartman was kind enough to take out time from working on the sequel to answer a few questions for us. You’ll see right away that complexity and depth I was talking about; enjoy the interview and then pick up Seraphina. We'll be giving away one copy (with an autographed bookplate) to one commenter.

Bill Capossere: Two major subjects of Seraphina, related somewhat to each other, seemed to be empathy and how one responds to “the other.” We see these ideas explored most obviously in the gulf between dragon and human, but we also are presented a variety of characters who span class, ethnicity, sexuality, religiosity, etc. How deliberate were you in creating such d... Read More

Seraphina: Excellent YA debut

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

To be honest, it’s tough to get too excited about books involving dragons. I mean, when is the last time you read a truly novel take on the creatures? So a tip of the hat and a heartfelt thank you to Rachel Hartman, who manages just that in her YA debut fantasy Seraphina, an excellent first novel that leaves you wanting more at the end.

The book is set in the kingdom of Goredd as it prepares to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty between it and the neighboring dragon realm, a treaty signed only after a bitter and costly war between the two races. The peace has held for all that time, but uneasily, and tensions appear to be rising between the two groups, as especially evidenced by the growing power and popularity of an anti-dragon organization that doesn’t mind using violence to get its point across. A point of concern as the anniversary celeb... Read More

Shadow Scale: Disappointing sequel

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina was a subtle, exquisitely quiet novel, nuanced and filled with sharply realized characters. I absolutely fell in love with it, placing it on my list of top reads that year, so it kills me to report that the eagerly-awaited sequel, Shadow Scale, not only failed to meet my (admittedly high) expectations, but really disappointed across the board.

Shadow Scale picks up shortly after the events of Seraphina, with dragons involved in an all-out civil war and their ousted leader Comonot allied with the human land of Goredd. While Princess Glisselda and Prince Kiggs prepare for war, Seraphina travels to find other ityasaari (half-dragons) such as herself, prompted by a discovery by Orma (her full dragon uncle) that the half-dragons might be able to provide a magical defense aga... Read More

Tess of the Road: A tough start, a solid if meandering rest

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

This is the third book I’ve read by Rachel Hartman set in her fictional word. I absolutely loved the first, Seraphina, and was greatly disappointed by the second, Shadow Scale. Unfortunately, Tess of the Road (2018) falls more toward the latter than the former, making for another disappointing foray into this setting.

While set in the same world and in roughly the same timeline as the first books (it covers a lot of ground thanks to flashbacks, so there’s both overlapping and later events), and sharing as well some of the same characters in minor roles, Tess of the Road Read More

Weathering a Dearth of Ideas

Today we’re pleased to welcome Rachel Hartman, currently on a blog tour for her newest work Shadow Scale, the sequel to her very well-received Seraphina (I loved Seraphina and chose it for one of our favorite books of 2012). Today she’s writing about a problem many writers encounter at some point in their careers — writer’s block. More precisely, how she overcame hers and managed to finish Shadow Scale. As someone who has been greatly looking forward to this sequel ever since I fell in love with Seraphina, I for one am happy she found a solution (and those who’ve read Seraphina won’t be surprised at what that solution was). Shadow Scale goes on sale March 10. Thanks to our friends at Random House, we've got print copies of both Seraphina and ... Read More