Rachel Hartman starts her fantasy novel out with a prologue that grabs the reader’s attention. The first sentence captures the mystery and strangeness of the rest of the novel in a few words: “I remember being born.” Upon reading that, the question of “what is is creature” pops into your head. No human, whole human that is, remembered there birth. Right from the start, the main character is something more than what meets the (mind’s) eye.
Throughout the book, Seraphina, the main character, juggles back and forth about who/what she really is. She calls herself a monster but must act the part of human. She has feelings unlike the creatures she compares herself to but she has scales running up her arm that are far from human. So the conflict is not just happening around the characters as they try to figure out who killed the male heir to the throne but also inside them. This adds depth to the plot line and more personal goals that the characters strive to achieve.
Hartman creates a mystical environment by leaving gaps for the reader to fill in themselves. For example, she describes characters with how much light they have in their eyes but not the color of their eyes. Other times she describes the color the person Seraphina sees is wearing but not how they are walking. Hartman may do this because it can show how Seraphina is struggling with seeing the world. How she flips from seeing it with emotions to how she see it through logical eyes of her other self. Or it could be because Hartman was to emphasis how strange and separate this society is living. With the gaps left to be filled by the reader it also allows them to make the story their own in their mind: they are not pressured into thinking that the princess’s dress is pink so to speak.
Those who enjoy the book Eragon but want more freedom with the setting of the novel creates should try this book. The twist and turns will keep them on their toes while they paint their own picture of what the story is like.