Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman, continues the story of Seraphina, a young woman who's half-human, half-dragon, caught because of who, and what, she is in a war between the two species.  In an effort both to promote the possibility of peace, and to potentially gather the power to defend her homeland, she sets off on a journey to gather together others who are half-human, half-dragon.  She's looking for the specific people she's had living inside her mind--she made mental contact with them years ago, never knowing they were real.    What follows is not a peaceful journey in which new friends fall easily into her real life.  The other half dragons, some whose hybrid nature has resulted in deformities, some who have been rejected and ostracized because of who they are, don't necessarily want to be friends.  And among the denizens of Seraphina's mind was a young half-dragon woman, Jannoula, whose mental control far outstrips Seraphina's....and this woman wants to claim the minds, the wills, and the powers of the half dragons for her own ends. More personally, Seraphina is tremendously anxious (with good reason) about her dragon uncle (left in peril at the end of book 1), and tormented by her love for the prince who's supposed to be marrying the queen who is also her friend.....

So it's a pretty Seraphina focused story, with her internal life as important as external events.  Some interest comes from the travel elements of the story--though the new places and characters kind of just fall into place like beads on a string, some more memorable than others (some of the secondary characters I like very much indeed!).  Some interest comes from watching the progress of Jannoula's march of triumph through just about everybody's mind, although again this lacked tension, as it seemed inevitable and irresistible.    On top of that, Seraphina's romantic conflict left in tense place at the end of the first book kind of fizzles here--she and the prince have agreed to wait and see, and so it's kind of been put on a back burner while the more important issue of dracomachy is taken care of.

It was not till considerably far into the book (around about page 400) that the book really gripped me; I enjoyed the last 200 pages lots more than the first 400, not just because things started moving more quickly, but because of additions to the world building--like the time Seraphina spends with the quigs--despised cousins of dragons who have lots more too them than most people think, and the explanation of the saints of Seraphina's world.  In general, though, I did not think that Shadow Scale needed to be a long as it is, and I can't help but feel that Seraphina the character could have been allowed to face the Jannoula problem more proactively...

So not quite one for me, though if you loved Seraphina, which I didn't quite, you might well like Shadow Scale more than I do....(though I didn't Not like it.  Just thought it was too long.)

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. I'm struggling through Shadow Scale. I loved the first book. But the second book just seems to drag most of the time.

  2. Can Seraphina be read on its own? I've been curious about it.

  3. This one definitely started slow for me, although I ended up loving it by the end.

    I did like the romantic resolution, even if it gets put on the backburner.

  4. I just reread Seraphina and loved it even more on the second go-round than I did the first time. But I have heard mixed things about Shadow Scale, so I'm trying to regulate my expectations about how good that one's going to be. Really, as long as Seraphina and Kiggs spend their time going around investigating things and being curious together, I'll probably be happy.

  5. I agree, Charlotte. I adored Seraphina, and found this one a disappointment. There were glimmers: Porphyry and the young dragon we meet there (who should be a spin-off series of her own!), the Saints, the quigs -- but overall it seemed to be hitting a lot of necessary plot points without making me care about any of them. I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I'm still bummed about it.

  6. This one is certainly on my to-read list, but I was of two minds about SERAPHINA, so I shall keep the slow start to SHADOW SCALE and your review in mind when I pick it up.


Free Blog Counter

Button styles