I'll admit that when I first saw the advanced reader copy for Rachel Hartman's Seraphina available for review on NetGalley, I skipped over requesting it. While I do love high fantasy, and love dragons, I suppose my own fascination as a teen with the works of Anne McCaffrey had me predisposed to assuming nothing would measure up, especially if it was designed for the today's young adult market. After several glowing reviews, however, I decided to see what the buzz was about, and requested a galley, which NetGalley and the publisher provided.Boy, was I wrong.Seraphina is a timeless story of prejudice, of fearing what's different, of pretending "separate but equal" is a policy that works just fine. Seraphina is an assistant to the court composer, and she has a secret: Her father unwittingly married a dragon passing for a human, and Seraphina is the product of that union. Her mother died in childbirth, and Seraphina would not only be an outcast in a world where dragons and humans have lived in a tenuous forty-year peace, but her existence is actually illegal. She hides what she is with the help of her scholar-dragon teacher, Orma, but she has been left with a legacy from her mother: strange visions that sometimes overtake her, and scales on her arm and torso. Her entire life, she has stayed out of the spotlight, but when she's forced to play at the funeral for a prince who has allegedly been killed by a dragon in violation of the treaty that's shortly to be commemorated with a huge celebration in honor of its forty years, Seraphina finds her secret beginning to unravel, and also finds the treaty may not be the best way for dragons and humans to live together.With this book, Hartman manages to do something many young adult writers seem to struggle with: excel at world building as well as develop rich, charismatic characters that the reader will keep turning pages to follow. There's no insta-love here, no romance that's forced, no flat emotion in reaction to the events that take place. Even better, there's no pat ending; Hartman keeps everything believable and realistic in a world that's as fantastic and magical as you can get. I'll admit that I was one of those children who tried Tolkien and hated it, and was put off high fantasy for years as a result. Seraphina is the kind of book I wish I'd had when I was younger, to introduce me to books with an incredibly fantastic world with plenty of action that was exciting and readable and had female characters who were strong and not pretty princesses or fairies along for the long, boring walk.