My Rating: Somewhere between 3 and 3.5 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: Having loved Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina, I had extremely high expectations for its sequel, Shadow Scale. Sadly, while I did like Shadow Scale, it just wasn’t as good as Seraphina.
Shadow Scale begins nicely with a prologue that recaps what happened in Seraphina. I found this quite helpful because almost three years after having read Seraphina, I couldn’t really recall what had happened in the novel. The plot of Shadow Scale then expands on the detailed worldbuilding of Seraphina by allowing the reader to now learn about the cultures of Goredd’s neighbours, the Ninysh, the Samsamese, and the Porphyrians, and see how they have interacted with the saarantrai and the ityasaari.
Another thing that I enjoyed about Shadow Scale was that we get to meet the half-dragons from Seraphina’s garden of grotesques and find out their backstories. When Seraphina leaves Goredd, she’s quite excited by her task of trying to gather the ityasaari because she thinks that she’s going to find a group of people that she can automatically connect with. Over the course of her journey however, Seraphina comes to realize that just because the ityasaari have all been procreated from a dragon and a human, it doesn’t mean that she can assume that they’ve had experiences similar to hers.
Where Shadow Scale could have been improved was the relationship between Seraphina and previously introduced characters such as Kiggs, Glisselda, and Orma. The romance, for example, needed more closure. As well, since Seraphina hardly gets much page time with Kiggs, Glisselda, or Orma in Shadow Scale, I felt a distinct lack of emotional connection with these characters this time.
The plot of Shadow Scale also began to feel repetitive after awhile as it involved Seraphina finding a half-dragon, only to realize that Jannoula, the villain of the story, was mentally connected to them. Since Seraphina didn’t know how to fight Jannoula, she appeared to have little agency throughout the novel. This reached a climax with the deus ex machina ending.
Shadow Scale was released on March 10, 2015 by Random House Children's Books.
Comments About the Cover: I like it, but I prefer Seraphina’s cover.