Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she's the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.
Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium's Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.
The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he'll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she'll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn't the only thing that makes a witch burn.
The Witchling Academy series is best enjoyed in order.
Book #1 Seventh Born
Book #2 Mirror Bound
About the Author
Monica Sanz is a romance writer with an established fan base on the social writing website Wattpad where her works have over 6 million combined reads. She is a member of the Wattpad4, a group of writers who host weekly Twitter chats on the subjects of writing and publishing.
When not lost in one of her many made-up worlds, Monica can be found on the sunny beaches of South Florida where she resides with her husband and their three children, or scouring YouTube for new bands to feed her music addiction.
Read an Excerpt
Relegated to a small, dark alcove in a corner of the Aetherium's Witchling Academy library, Seraphina Dovetail shifted on her small wooden stool, plucking a fingernail against the frayed edge of the black book on her lap — the only book she was allowed to read for leisure: The Unmitigated Truths of Seventhborns.
She rolled her eyes and kicked the pointed tip of her battered black boot on the stone floor. She needn't read an entire book on the subject, not when she lived its content every day. She was the seventh-born daughter to a witch, her birth the cause of her mother losing her powers and in turn, her life. If she ever cared to forget, the thin black line on her wrist would remind her. And — she glanced about the library at students sitting in plush chairs and wearing warm cloaks — so would the world.
Unable to stomach reading more about the faults of her irreparablecondition, Sera looked across the room to the stool opposite hers. Hazel Flemings, the only other seventhborn in the Academy, sat with her back spear straight, her shoulders relaxed and brown eyes downcast. No signs of hostility issued from her frame and demeanor. Had Sera not been fully aware of Hazel's presence, she might have missed her altogether. The girl was no better than a shadow.
Sera shook her head. Hazel had clearly taken The Unmitigated Truths of Seventhborns to heart. Namely the chapter on the proper decorum expected of their cursed birthright, from keeping oneself invisible to maintaining a pleasant mien lest anyone consider them ungrateful of the mercy bestowed upon them. In other words, keep a low profile and be thankful they were allowed to live.
Perhaps feeling the weight of Sera's stare, Hazel lifted her lashes and met her gaze. Sera smiled, though inside, her heart twisted at the fourteen-year-old girl's innocence. It would never last. Sooner or later, she would learn that regardless of how invisible she tried to be, the world still saw her, and that world was full of monsters ready to devour her at first chance.
A harsh gust of cold air lashed Sera, blew the horrid book from her lap, and shoved her sideways against a neighboring bookshelf. She hissed as sharp pain rushed down the side of her face when it collided with the bookcase.
Stiff silence settled over the library, all eyes focused on Sera and the ladies' matron, Mrs. James, towering over her.
"Socializing between seventhborns is strictly forbidden," the woman hissed, one hand on her hip and her face pinched in disgust. She pointed her wand at the book on the floor. "And so is mistreating school property."
Sera's pulse quickened. Magic roared through her veins, a fierce heat coursing out from her belly and burning the underside of her skin. "I was not socializing." She lifted her face to Mrs. James. "And I didn't mistreat the book."
Red flushed the matron's cheeks, her face matching her hair. She moved closer, her eyes narrowed to tiny slits, her hand tight around her wand. "What did you say?"
Sera dug her fingers into her knees to keep them from clenching, to keep from channeling the heat in her core into a gale to blow the beastly woman through the stained-glass window behind her. The headmistress wouldn't allow her another transgression, not after the fire she sparked last month in a fit of rage.
"Nothing, Mrs. James," she muttered through clenched teeth. She swallowed thickly, suppressing the magic that squeezed hot, sour bile into her throat. "I'm sorry about the book."
Mrs. James scoffed, her thin lips pulled to a snarl. "Don't apologize to me but to all the seventhborns who wished they got the opportunity to study at a prestigious school such as this instead of rotting away in whatever hovel they've been cursed to, and rightly so. Any goodness that comes to your sort is great kindness, indeed."
Sera snorted. Better kindness could be found at the zoo, under the claws of a ravenous tiger.
Mrs. James gasped at the sneer, but Mary Tenant swept beside her and interrupted. "Perhaps Miss Dovetail can show her appreciation by helping me carry a few books to my table?" She flashed Mrs. James a practiced smile, a meek spread of the lips and batting of the lashes that seemed to grant her whatever she wanted — well, most things. "They are rather heavy."
Mrs. James remained still, seedy brown eyes fixed on Sera and her knuckles white on her wand. When Sera made no attempt at retaliation, the woman sheathed her wand in the metal holder hanging from the side of her dress. "Pick up your book and assist Miss Tenant. Unlike you, the students in this school hope to contribute to the magical community. At least have the dignity to appreciate your mother's sacrifice ... or stupidity." She spun and clapped her hands twice, prompting students to refocus on their studies.
Sera's glare remained fixed on Mrs. James's back. The woman's last words spurred her magic, a beast clawing at her insides for release. The candles flared on the chandelier above, making the shadows throb in tune with her heartbeat. Nearby students reached for their books, others carefully moving closer to the door. If last month's events were any indication, they had less than a minute before she snatched out her wand and set something — or someone — on fire.
"Steady, Sera," Mary whispered, standing close. "You don't want to do this." She tilted her head toward the back of the library. "Think of your family."
Family. A wave of stark cold washed through Sera. Though she could not remember them, she focused on the phantom faces she'd imagined as those of her siblings and father. She hauled in a steadying breath. They were out there, somewhere, and blowing Mrs. James through a window wasn't going to help her find them. She exhaled, picked up the cursed book, and followed Mary.
A kaleidoscope of color shaded them momentarily as they passed the stained-glass windows portraying the seven guardians, the goddesses believed to be the founders of magic. The women's mournful faces were turned down to one of the seven elements they cupped in their hands. Each window was a different color, representative of the element: red for fire, yellow for air, blue for water, green for earth, gray for metal, brown for wood, and a clear pane for aether — the study of light and darkness, of emotions and matters of the soul.
Mary guided them behind a bookcase and tugged Sera closer. Sera snatched her hand away, but glancing around, she breathed freer. They were alone, and no one saw the forbidden affection.
"How are you, dearest?" Mary whispered.
"Wonderful and ever so grateful for the Academy's kindness." She mocked a bow to the nearest window, the image of the Aetherium founder, Patriarch Angus Aldrich, imprinted on the glass. He sat in a throne chair, surrounded by the seven elemental signs.
"Stop it." Mary giggled, her skin reddening. She plucked a book from the shelf and handed it to Sera. "How was class this morning?"
Sera took the book in her arms to start their fraudulent pile. "Boring as ever. The sooner we're done with these Aether-level courses, the better. I don't know how much longer I can deal with the influence of magic on the soul."
"Yes, well, you don't know which elements will be represented during assessments, so you have to pay attention to them all ... and perhaps charm a professor in the process to sign your referral papers?"
Sera frowned but hummed in agreement. To be admitted to the Aetherium School of Continuing Magic, she had to first take their entrance exam ... and that required a referral from a professor.
"You're doing well in Mysteries of the Mind. Maybe ask Mrs. Aguirre? A referral from an Aether-levels professor is impressive."
"Maybe last quarter she would have agreed ... before the spell-book incident." Sera shook her head. After attempting to transfer a negative thought into a stone unsuccessfully, she had thrust her spell book aside in frustration and unknowingly too close to the flame beneath her cauldron. The book caught on fire, and, though a simple mistake, no one else saw it as such. Seventhborns weren't allowed mistakes.
Mary wrinkled her nose. "Ah yes, I forgot about that."
"But enough about me. How are you?"
"Spent. Mrs. Fairfax was in the infirmary last night," she said, setting another book into Sera's arms. "She fell down the stairs and got herself a nasty gash. She didn't want to wait for Nurse, who was tending to an emergency in the kitchens, and so I tended to her myself."
Sera waited until they were shielded behind another bookshelf to reply. "That's fantastic, Mary. Your own patient, even if it is Mrs. Fairfax. That woman is a tyrant." Though Sera conceded it was only logical the housekeeper disliked her when it was the housekeeping staff who were burdened with cleaning up her messes, like last month's fire. Or the explosion in the potions room. Not to mention the rubble from the statue she'd blasted two months prior. It was a wonder she hadn't been expelled, she mused.
Mary shrugged and dropped another book into Sera's arms. "Yes, well, Nurse will never know. She doesn't like us healing without her supervision, but it was good practice for assessments. I'll surely deal with worse as an Aetherium healer." She blew out a sigh, her black bangs waving upward. "Now I'm positively exhausted. It took nearly all my reserves to heal her wound."
Sera adjusted the growing pile of books. "Why don't you ask Mrs. James to be excused to your room?"
"Are you mad?" Mary stopped abruptly by the Astral Studies section. "It's a full moon, silly. All big decisions should be made today, and today is the day I'll be asked to the Solstice Dance. But first I must be noticed, though it will be impossible with all of that." She motioned out to the room.
The tables throughout the library were filled — an inordinate number of girls squeezed into the seats. Other girls pretended to search for books in the bookcase nearest the boys' half of the library, while the boys did the same on their side. Split into two towers, the boys' and girls' wards were joined only by the library.
Sera rolled her eyes. Another reason why she despised the library, during the day at least. The last thing she needed was contact with a silly boy.
"Then perhaps being seen with me will not improve your chances," she muttered. "Go, I'm fine. I've endured worse than Mrs. James's wrath. I'm sure someone will ask you."
"And that's the problem. My mother does not expect me to go to the dance with someone. She expects me to go with the one. Only a Delacort will do."
Sera peered around the corner to the boy of topic. He lounged in a leather armchair in the sitting area nearest the great fireplace, where most senior magicians tended to gather. With a hand over his mouth and blue eyes squinted with laughter, he watched his best friend swing his wand while recounting an animated tale.
"Such beauty." Mary sighed, green eyes fixed on Timothy Delacort. She rested her head against a neighboring shelf. "Even you must admit to that."
Sera opened her mouth to deny it, but the clouds shifted and faint rays filtered through the arched window, bathing Timothy in warm light.
"Damned sun," she murmured. It would be a heinous lie to say Timothy Delacort wasn't handsome with his aristocratic features, mop of black curls, and big blue eyes. Not to mention his impeccable manners. Why he chose Hadden Whittaker as a friend evaded her; the arrogant boy was a nuisance, his ego as big as his mountainous frame.
But she turned away and stacked another book onto her pile. Timothy's choices were no concern of hers. "Yes, he's handsome, but I have better things to worry about."
Mary sighed and lowered her head, pretending to leaf through a book. "Yes, yes, like becoming an inspector, I know, but there is more to life," she went on. "I would hate for you to wake up one day only to realize life has passed you by and left you an old spinster." She gasped and shut the book. "Come to think of it, you should come to the dance."
Sera blinked and blinked again as the animated brunette returned the book to the shelf and picked up another. "Are you mad? Perhaps you should be the one in the infirmary along with your patients."
"If this school is as progressive with the treatment of seventhborns as it claims to be, then why shouldn't you come to the dance?" Mary stacked the book on the five Sera held already. Sera's arms began to burn under the strain, but it was rare that she and Mary got to talk during the day. She could weather the discomfort a little while longer.
"Because as much as the Aetherium has embraced Pragmatism," Sera replied from behind the tower in her arms, "it's as prejudiced as when the Purists ruled. Pragmatism, Purism. Different religion, same nonsense. For seventhborns at least."
"That argument won't win you a reprieve," Mary muttered. "My mother wrote to say she is sending my gowns. I have a yellow one that's simply to die for. You will look like a ray of sunshine."
"Yes, well, I prefer black."
Mary sulked. "Black is death, Sera."
She grinned. "Precisely. I would rather be dead than go to that dance —"
A flash of light darted past her. Sera screamed and ducked as it blasted into the bookcase behind her. A rain of tomes tumbled down onto her and Mary, the corners of the books jamming into her head and back before joining the ones that had fallen from her hands to the floor. Specks of light flickered before her eyes.
Silence claimed the room a moment before it exploded into roars of laughter. Sera pressed her hands on the floor and centered herself, mastering the sting along her spine and throbbing pricks at the back of her head. A metallic taste tinged her mouth, and laughter rang in her ears as tears blurred the room around her.
Mrs. James rushed to them. She swept past Sera and helped Mary to her feet. "Miss Tenant, are you all right? Are you hurt?"
"I — I'm fine," Mary said, a hand pressed against her temple. "What was that?"
"It was a mistake." Timothy Delacort was suddenly beside them. He turned to Sera, a line marking his brow. "We were having a bit of fun, and Mr. Whittaker must have had a slip of the hand."
"We will speak of this later," Mrs. James said to Timothy. She drew Mary away to one of the secondary matrons. "Take Miss Tenant to the infirmary," she ordered the assistant. "We must tend to this cut and make sure it doesn't scar."
Timothy held out a hand to Sera, prompting a wave of murmurs. "Are you hurt?"
Rising alone, she looked beyond him, her gaze fixed on Whittaker celebrating behind the chaperone's back. "That was no mistake."
Mrs. James scoffed. "This is not the time, Miss Dovetail. No one is persecuting seventhborns anymore. If Mr. Delacort says it was a mistake, then it was a mistake." She clutched Sera's chin and, jerking it from side to side, inspected the cut on her cheek.
Lips pressed to a tight line, Mrs. James shoved Sera's face away and dusted her hands as if having touched something foul. "No need to bother Nurse with an insignificant cut. Go and get yourself cleaned up, and then help straighten this mess. Mr. Delacort, back to your section please." She spun on her heels and walked away, a chorus of snickers all around her.
"I'll talk to him," Timothy whispered. But lost to the swell of heat in her blood, to the laughter, Sera walked around him. A cyclone of warmth gathered in her belly, wildfire twisting with each beat of her heart. The beast that clawed her insides for release grew stronger, raw anger spurring her magic. Reason warned her to calm down. Hadn't she already caused herself enough problems under similar rage? She shouldn't do this. She couldn't. She wouldn't —
"Forgive me, Dovetail," Whittaker called out to her. His grin widened. "It was a ... mistake."
Anger waved upward till redness shaded the fringes of her sight. Focused on the thrash of her heartbeat and on the vile boy, she envisioned plumes of fire, and her hands grew hot.
Preoccupied with celebrations, the stout, freckle-faced boy failed to notice the curls of smoke that whirled from the tail of his cloak.
Timothy gasped. "Whittaker, your cloak!"
When the burn in her hand grew to a scalding ache, Sera clenched her fingers shut.
A fire snapped onto the tail of Whittaker's cloak first, then upward along the black fabric. A collective gasp resounded, cut only by Whittaker's screams. A soothing warmth rolled through Sera, the release of magic intoxicating and comforting.
Thrusting off his cloak, he threw it to the ground, and with a flick of his wand, extinguished it. He spun to Sera and advanced, his wand aimed at her. "You little —"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Seventh Born"
Copyright © 2018 Monica Sanz.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful book! I couldn't put it down and love the main characters.
Fantasy with a touch of romance! Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Seventh Born by Monica Sanz! Seraphina lives in a society that's prejudice against her because she’s a seventh born. She’s not allowed to have any friends, not even other seventh borns, and she’s forced to grovel to authority. Sera does have one forbidden friend that’s helpful and kind to her, Mary. As Mary and Sera are gathering books to give themselves a chance to talk to each other, a teen boy “accidentally” knocks books down on top of them. Sera is so angry that she causes his clothes to smolder without using a wand, so he can’t prove her fault without calling her powerful and without getting himself in trouble for dropping the books. A professor gets her out of the situation and later invites her to see him privately. Sera cautiously visits Professor Barrington and is relieved and surprised when he offers her a referral letter if she’ll help him investigate murders and be his investigative assistant. A new world is opened up to Sera as she learns spells, the history and reality of the seventh born persecution and her own abilities. A fantasy with a touch of romance and some twists, 5 stars! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
And I'm finally, finally done with this title. 2.5/5 But where do I begin? Will it turn people off when I say that this was like a Snape x Hermione fanfiction? But don't worry, this time Snape is actually the youngest professor in this magical school and is actually good looking. Will it also piss people off if I mention that there is a scene in this novel that is reminiscent to a scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? There is literally a spare in this one and I hated it. Needless to say, this is another "like Harry Potter" book, except the chosen one is a muggle born. I mean, a seventh born. Sorry, I got confused for a second (not really). Then Snape, I mean, Barrington (LOL THAT NAME), employs the help of a seventh born to assist him in his investigation regarding some magic stuff I'm not exactly clear about. You see, there is a magic system in this book. It was just unmemorable so I could say there are plot holes, when in reality I could have just forgotten some details. This could either mean that (A.) I'm inattentive with what I'm reading, or (B.) The magic system needs to be clearer than what was presented. In exchange for Sera's help, Barrington was willing to write her a recommendation (you know, for her future career!) or referral? However, the reader (such as myself) can't help but wonder if a recommendation will even make a difference. Most magical people were against Seventh borns and it's unclear why. The only explanation I remembered was because some people believed that Seventh borns caused a plague. I might be wrong though (which is why I don't mind mentioning it) because this had been an unnecessarily long and "too-wordy" young adult novel with A LOT of information dump. I'm not exaggerating. While this novel appealed to me at first, I didn't think the magical system or even the world building was explained very well. The reader was just supposed to assume details and rely on info dumping. The characters were seemingly ordinary and one-dimensional. They weren't complex, like this is a book that defines good vs. bad characters. The bad characters become bad because they target seventh borns for their own reasons, which again, I am not sure about. I don't even remember how and why they were targeted by the antagonist. As for the romance, again, Snape and Hermione shippers... there is a chance for you yet. I just won't be reading the sequel to see it happening. **Huge thanks to Entangled Teen for approving my request to read this book in exchanging for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Book review of Seventh born by Monica Sanz To be honest I found this to be a slow read. The story was good, the characters were great, the world building exquisite but it took too long. I like the story premise and you really feel for Seraphina. She has 1 friend, a well-off suitor and a quirky but brilliant young teacher how has taken an interest in her at least secretly. All she wants to do is what almost no one in her station has done ... become an inspector. Give it a try ... maybe the pacing was only an issue for me.
The seventh-born daughter is brought into the world with distaste, her mother is gone and the world is unwelcoming. The seventh-born has to fight for what she wants and will find many doors closed. She is said to be cursed and many will not give her a chance, but the seventh-born daughter is truly special. Seraphina Dovetail wants to become an inspector. She works hard at her magic, but her temper sometimes gets the best of her. Her past is painful and she doesn't remember her family. Her hopes lie with the witchling school, where she is a scholarship student. She is a seventh-born and people tend to avoid her or make fun of her. Her teachers are cruel and she has to be on her best behaviour at all times. Unfortunately, it isn't easy for Sera to stay out of trouble. The word seems to follow her around. She has a secret best friend who she loves dearly and she tries to keep her head down. Unfortunately, she isn't very successful and becomes a target. She attracts the attention of the cruel boy, Whittaker but also the most desirable boy, Timothy and her Professor. Professor Barrington is in need of an assistant and after seeing Sera display of anger he approaches her. He offers to help her with her studies and recommendations, in exchange for her help with some murders. This unlikely friendship becomes a bond Sera never imaged she would have. Timothy Delacort is from a respectable, powerful family. He is destined for great things. Unfortunately, they are not what he wants. Sera catches his eye and he hopes for a chance with her. He doesn't care his family will not approve. Sera doesn't really know what to do with Timothy affections, especially since her best friend Mary has a crush on him. Her friend means the world to her and she doesn't want to do anything that may upset her. The murders are brutal rituals and the victims suffered a painful death. The authorities are clueless. They cannot link the victims together. It's up to Sera and Professor Barrington to solve the case. This book is excellent and I was hooked on every word. Luckily there is more to be added to this series. Seventh born is a full-length novel which you can really sink your teeth into. It is dark and Sera becomes the light. She isn't perfect but her actions are understandable. She has had a tough life and she still fights for what she wants. She's a powerful witch in training but not everyone sees the good in her. There are also some great supporting characters in this book and the plot came together nicely. It can be read as a standalone but the door is left open a slither for more. Seventh born is a fantastic gripping story. It's imaginative and creates a believable world with magic. I could easily read this book again which is unusual for me. A modern-day fantasy Sherlock Holmes. 5 + stars out of 5. Very highly recommended. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This read grips right away, tightens and refuses to let go until the very end. As the seventh child, Sera is cursed. As is with all seventh borns, Sera's mother died at her birth. What happened after that, Sera hasn't the slightest clue. Her memory is blank outside of the two years following her entrance to the Academy—two horrible years that have left her scarred inwardly and out. Seventh borns have been shunned by society for generations, but thanks to a new program, Sera is allowed to study at the academy and harbors the dream of someday becoming an Inspector, a position unheard of for someone like herself. Not only does she have to face the ridicule and prejudice her classmates and teachers dish out, but due to her horrible temper, she's on the brink of losing her dreams too. When one of her professors offers her a deal, it might be her one chance to become everything she's dreamed of....or loose everything she still has including her life. This book surprised me. While the blurb and cover immediately drew my interest, the tale was so much better than I expected. Sera is an intriguing young woman with more baggage and secrets than anyone should have. But there's no room for pity, nor does Sera want any. She's determined, despite all of her weaknesses and short comings. She carries a shield of snark and a coat of coldness, all to protect her wonderfully warm heart that she's protecting inside. Darkness shrouds these pages the entire way through, but it never grows overpowering. The evil is very evil and so covered up in layers of intrigue and secrets that it's not clear what Sera is up against until the very last pages. The mystery is very well paced with bits and pieces of the puzzle dribbling through. The clues not only follow the mystery but weave around the characters surrounding Sera in unexpected ways which deepen their own histories as well. It's well done, holds many surprises, and captures the attention without a moment of boredom. There is a little taste of school drama in a witch world sense. The young adult audience can connect to Sera without any problem as she suffers from the difficulties with teachers and peers, as well as the expectations of the everyday teen world. Although this aspect is only slight, it gives readers an anchor before the rest of the amazing and rich fantasy of the world around Sera take hold. And the world is rich, dangerous, alluring and simply a delight. Romance hovers in the pages too, but at a very low-key level, especially at first. Sera is not interested in the more social aspects of life but is very determined in her goal. Her opening up flows smoothly and perfectly with her character development. The hints of romance drip in, increasing toward the end of the book but never running full stream. Trust needs to be built, and that's clear in these pages., which fits superbly with Sera, her past and what still awaits her. If it were available, I'd already have my hands on the second book of this series. It's that good, and I can only recommend it to fans of magic, intrigue, darker tones, a dash of romance and tons of mystery. I received a complimentary advanced reader's copy and loved it. So, I'm leaving my honest thoughts.
Seraphina Dovetail is a seventh-born child of a witch, an abomination, hated by most and used for her power by others. After being saved from an evil warlock who tried to drain her powers, Sera was given the opportunity to attend Aetherium's Witchling Academy as part of a special program. She dreams of one day becoming an inspector to seek out the family she lost, but her inability to control her temper and power may jeopardize her chances. When the dark and brooding Professor Barrington offers her a position as his assistant in exchange for his recommendation, she jumps at the chance. Someone is murdering witches, and Sera might be the key to unlocking the secrets behind the mystery...or she might be his next victim. I would classify Seventh Born as a YA historical fantasy/mystery. This is the first book in The Witchling Academy series and introduces Seraphina Dovetail, a girl who did not choose her position in life yet is tormented for what she is. Her lack of training and her fiery temper continue to get her in trouble and threaten to take away her chances of becoming an inspector. Professor Barrington, troubled by his scandalous past and the death of his family, chooses Sera to help him with a case involving a series of mysterious murders. The writing is wonderfully done and the characters are easy to like, making this a very enjoyable and entertaining read. I was hoping that each book in the series would incorporate a new arc, a new mystery to piece together, but it appears that will not be the case. The first book ends with parts of the story unfinished to be continued into the next book. Although there is some romantic tension between some of the characters, romance was not a major plot point which I loved. If you’re looking for a new fantasy series I highly recommend giving this one a try. I look forward to reading more books in this series.
seraphina dovetail hasn't had an easy life. the seventh born child of a witch, she's cursed with being the cause of her mother's death and labeled a second class citizen for the rest of her life. her status is marked on her body with a tattoo at her wrist and scars on her back. when professor nikolai barrington takes her under his wing, it's meant to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. he wants her help in seeking out a murderer. her seventh born status gives her the ability to communicate with spirits, and the magic she holds in reserve only needs to be properly controlled in order to allow her strength as a witch to truly shine. their relationship is forbidden, and yet everything about their friendship, their feelings for each other simmers beneath the surface of their interactions. barrington fights for sera because he cares, because he wants her to be safe, because there is something about her that calls to him, that inspires him to be a better man. this book was a very enjoyable read, and if you are into witches and magic and unspoken love, it's got all the right elements. **seventh born will publish on september 4, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The story is told in third person, but we only experience the events through Sera's eyes. The poor girl; only 18 years of age and she already went through hell. As a seventhborn, she is constantly confronted with prejudice, disgust and varying degrees of cruelty. Kindness is rare and it is hard for her accepting and trusting it when it is directed at her. More often than not, her kind is blamed for any bad thing happening, the circumstances of their birth alone - stripping their mother of her powers which in turn kills her - being seen as a bad omen. Although the persecution of seventhborns is not allowed anymore, they are still treated as inferiors. They have a hard time to start a career of their choosing, most of them having to work as mediums because they are so close to death since birth. Sera had more luck, she got into the seventhborn program and currently studies magic, aspiring to become an inspector. In such a position she might be able to search for her family and acquire the memories she has lost. Everything that has happened before the time she has spent in the hands of her cruel captor and after her escape, at the Academy, she cannot remember. The problem is that Sera needs a referral from a professor at the Academy in order to be able to get into the higher studies which in turn would get her closer to make her dream of becoming an inspector come true. But who would give such a chance to a seventhborn like her? Well, the brooding, melancholy and boorish Professor Nikolai Barrington - who is suspiciously eager to do just that in exchange for Sera’s help in the investigation of a series of atrocious murders. These two characters and the development of their relationship make this book special. There are so many layers and hidden depths to discover, so many reasons they act and react the way they do. Their pain, sorrow, shame and regrets connect them in the most beautiful way. So much emotion is involved, making the reading experience intense. I loved following all the steps they had to take to enable them to trust each other. I appreciated the realistically slow progress they make. There is the professor/student thing to consider as well. Whereas Barrington is not teaching her officially, any relationship beyond the professional is frowned upon. It is just one of several examples of how the author cleverly circumvents clishes. Barrington at first seems like a typical bad boy. He is conceited and likes to break the rules, but he is very gentle with Sera, too. There is much more to him. The love triangle. Luckily, it is made clear from the start that there is no competition. It still is important for the plot. I quite liked the scenes. They added some innocence to the darkness and sorrow. In the beginning the setting reminded me of Harry Potter. A magic school, wands used to wield magic, potions classes, etc. But how magic works in this world is quite different and I liked to discover all of it. The murder investigation has been intriguing to follow. I never would have expected the true extent of what has been going on and the people involved. In hindsight, it made perfect sense and I was asking myself how I could not have seen it sooner. I can wholeheartedly recommend the book to anyone who likes intense emotions, slow-burn love stories, magic, a gripping murder investigation and who does not mind darkness.
I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great twist on the 7th child theme. The 7th son of a 7th son is always very positive for male wizards – but here the 7th daughter is marked (literally) as socially undesirable, cursed, and is to have her magic constrained. The same does not applied to seventh sons, so definitely some misogyny here. Reportedly, the mother dies giving birth to the seventh daughter – thus accenting the daughter’s maliciousness. Personally, I am always amazed that women chose to give birth even once, being such a painful and fraught affair – so dying after the seventh birth seems pretty logical to me (This world definitely needs some birth control and celibacy!). In former days, the seventh born daughters were persecuted, hunted and killed, so there has been some little progress on the moral front. The book’s heroine, Sera Dovetail, is seventh born, a trainee witch enrolled in the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. She is limited in which courses she may take, and which books she may read. Any trouble, and – guilty or no – she gets the blame. It does not help that picking on the seventh-born is an accepted Academy pastime, and that she is very quick to react and retaliate. Because of her painful past experiences (not all of which she can remember), Sera has serious trust issues, and repulses most attempts to connect with her. Only her one true friend, Mary, is allowed to get close – and certainly not the highly desirable Timothy Delcourt. When the tall, dark, handsome and brooding Professor Barrington (a romantic hero in waiting if ever there was one – Mr D’arcy eat your heart out!) offers Sera private lessons and the much needed referral for future studies, in exchange for her working as his assistant, she reservedly agrees. Their relationship has to remain secret, as it is completely inappropriate for a professor to be alone with a pupil – especially a derided seventh born. Family plays a huge part for all the main characters. Sera needs to become an inspector, to find her family and uncover her history. Barrington is an unofficial inspector, and is determined to absolve his dead father and brother of the crimes of which they are accused. Both are driven by a desire to bring to justice the necromancers and murderers who are leaving a trail of exhumed and burned corpses behind them. Timothy and Mary are driven by the demands of their respective families, pushing them against their true desires, and leaving them feeling inadequate and hopeless. The world and its characters are beautifully drawn, and you quickly become involved. Even the minor characters – such as Mrs York, Lucas Davenport (cf John Sandford?) and the Barghest – really grab your attention. There is romance (just the right amount for me), mystery, friendship and betrayal. While you may guess the eventual outcome, you would be hard-pressed to work out how the ending is reached. Although much is resolved, there is still enough left for many more books in this series. I can hardly wait. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own
"Seventh Born" is a YA fantasy that follows the (literally) fiery Seraphina (Sera) Dovetail. Sera is a seventhborn, which is the seventh child born to a witch which saps her magic and kills her. Seventhborns are generally despised and strongly prejudiced against. In the past, they were blamed for plagues and other societal problems and killed. Now, society is trying to move past this and has allowed Sera to enroll in the Aetherium's Witchling Academy in the seventhborn program. The Aetherium rules the witch/wizard world. Sera has no memory of her life before she was taken and tortured by a warlock, Noah. However, bearing the mark of a seventhborn, she knows that she must have a father and 6 siblings somewhere. She is trying to study hard at the Academy to become an Inspector and thus be able to right wrongs plus find her family. However, with the prejudiced and cruel remarks of her teachers and classmates, Sera's temper often flares and her magic starts fires. Everything changes when the attractive, young Professor Barrington offers to train Sera as his assistant and in turn, provide the recommendation she needs to enter into the school to become an Inspector. Barrington involves Sera in an investigation he is conducting into the brutal murder of seventhborns at grave sites seemingly unconnected to the seventhborns. Through the investigation, they uncover more than expected with a larger conspiracy that may threaten Sera directly. While the writing was pretty good and I definitely read the whole thing, I felt like we were missing a lot of background and world-building. This almost felt like the second book in a series or like a couple chapters at the beginning were missing. It's unclear why seventhborns are so hated. Presumably, in a world of magic, people can choose about having kids- if they don't want or hate seventhborns so much, why have them (and why do so many people have seven kids- that's expensive! Not to mention hard on the body...)? Also, if their parents choose to have a seventh, they know what the consequences are. I feel like we needed more reasons/background on this. I would actually expect they would be honored for their mothers' sacrifices plus their immense power. It didn't quite make sense to me, and I feel like I was missing some additional context. Also, about the world, it was not clear if it takes place alongside our own- there are some nonmagical areas revealed later- are those the ones that we know about? Or is this a completely different world? Beyond that, most of the relationships are preexisting and not explained. For example, the friendship between Sera and Mary- how did they become friends? Why are they so close? It is just preexisting in the book, but it would have been nice to have a flashback to how they met and why they are so devoted to each other. Also, the boy who is "in love" with Sera- they have barely ever spoken and yet he would die for her. We get some explanation at 90% of the way through, but even that did not explain everything. Considering it was also accompanied by some sexual harassment/assault (she said who knows how many times she wasn't interested and he forces her into kisses she doesn't want a few times plus has some unexplained obsession with her that is never prevented or dealt with), I was not sure how I felt about it. I believe this was unnecessary in a YA book and did not feel that I understood what the message was here . Copy from publisher. Opinions mine.