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Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Book Name: Shadow Scale
Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher(s): Random House Books for Young Readers
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Seraphina is tangled amid the grapple for power between the dragon rebels and the human court. The dark secret of her true identity – half-dragon, half-human – has now become her advantage. Only she has the power to unite the kingdom of Goredd, and she intends to use it. She scours the land for the rest of her half-dragon brethren, whose unique gifts may make the difference in the struggle.

But gathering her people is no straightforward task, and the more Seraphina learns, uncovering hidden histories and outright lies, the more she comes to realize that someone is working against her. What hope is there for brokering peace between dragons and humans when one of her own is determined to see both worlds go up in flames?

Shadow Scale is the long-awaited sequel to Seraphina. When I found out it had finally been released, I slapped down money for this book so fast it isn’t even funny.

This book had a lot to live up to, both with the scale and scope of the story and worldbuilding in Seraphina, and how well received it was for Hartman’s debut fantasy. I wanted to love this book. I really did. But… I just like it.

If Seraphina was slow in parts, especially at the beginning, Shadow Scale moves too quickly in many areas (but still manages to be 150 pages longer than the previous book). Most of the book involves traveling, though the actual traveling itself is kept thankfully brief in the story. However, that means we see very little of beloved characters from the first book beyond Seraphina herself – especially her uncle Orma, and Prince Lucian.

The stakes in this book are huge – both for Seraphina personally, and for all of Goredd. Yet, they are still one and the same which takes quite a bit of talent to weave together cohesively in a story. Hartman accomplishes that well.

Jannoula makes a formidable antagonist, but at times the scope of what she is able to accomplish is nearly unbelievable, and her ityasaari powers are the barely sufficient scapegoat. Her motivation did not strike me as completely solid, either, and I am torn whether to think it is because Hartman just glossed over that or because Jannoula is an unreliable narrator.

Once again, though, Hartman fully delivers on the worldbuilding. While Seraphina was set exclusively in Goredd, Shadow Scale takes her (and us) far outside its borders, and even into dragon country. I found the most entrancing part of the book to be the sojourn in Porphyry with their complicated language and culture.

Where Hartman shines this round, though, is finally revealing the history and origins of the Saints. There are too many spoilers surrounding that, though, so that is really all that can be said.

With the conclusion of Shadow Scale it becomes apparent that the romance between Seraphina and Prince Lucian really is just a minor subplot to everything. There is a twist of a love triangle revealed, and there is some resolution, but it is minimal.

Overall, Shadow Scale is a bit darker than Seraphina, and the ending is bittersweet and rushed in many ways. It is very realistic, and definitely a reminder that while this may be fantasy, it is not necessarily a happily-ever-after, no matter how many sacrifices are made.



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