Shadow Scale: Review

March 12, 2015 2015, 4.5 star books, fantasy, Kim, Rachel Hartman 21 ★★★★½

Shadow Scale: ReviewShadow Scale Published by Random House Children's Books on March 10, 2015
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 608
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

If Seraphina is the tale is the tale of a girl coming to terms with her dragon heritage (and, oh man, do I just love being able to mention a girl coming to terms with her dragon heritage) and coming to accept herself, then Shadow Scale is the story of a girl who has found her wings and put them to good use too!

Shadow Scale takes the foundations of Seraphina and explodes its world outward. Not just geographically, but culturally (and mythically) as well. Seraphina is on a mission to find the other half-dragons to aid in the dragon war against Goredd. She must travel to other countries to gather her “grotesques” and convince them to help her. It’s so fun to travel to these new lands and learn about But the real delight is in meeting all the new people. I adored the expanded (and diverse) cast of characters, humans and half dragons alike. It amazes me how quickly I became so attached to characters I’d just met. Hartman has a gift for so tenderly crafting lovable and understandable characters in all their imperfect glory.

The writing is as beautiful as ever, and Hartman’s storytelling gift never dips below the quality you’ve come to expect from Seraphina. Seraphina’s determination, sharp wit, and wry humor are evidenced again and again, and it is simply a joy to spend time in her head. She is not always perfect, but she is always determined to be good. And honestly, it is in the stumbles and mistakes that she is made more endearing. Following her journey from the first book and through this one left me with a tremendous swell of pride. I love the message of accepting of yourself that is at the core of these books.

One of the major highlights of this volume is that sinister sneak of a villain, Jannoula. First mentioned in Seraphina, she is back with a vengeance here and she is absolutely terrifying. Jannoula’s nefarious deeds are accomplished not so much in grandiose acts of evil as in manipulations. There is a certain horror in villains of the mind that can actually stir a sense of panic in me. Someone who can reach into the minds of those you love and turn them against you? The ultimate in horrifying. At the same time, Hartman gives us Jannoula’s backstory and makes her, if not sympathetic, then at least understandable. And to be honest, I did find her a bit sympathetic. There is real talent in an author who can make one sympathize with an absolutely petrifying villain.

Now I know you’re just dying to know, what’s the scoop on the romance? The romance may be a minor part of the story, but as always, it brings major swoons. I am sad to say dear Kiggs and Seraphina are apart for the first half of the book. But this has always been a romance told in subtleties and quiet moments full of large impact. ALSO, there is a very, very intriguing development on the romance front. View Spoiler » I’m sure readers are eager to know how the “triangle” of Seraphina, Kiggs, and Glisselda works out. I can assure that you are in good hands with this author. Trust, it all works out in a realistic and satisfying way.

Philosophical, humorous, diverse, and romantic, Shadow Scale is a sequel worthy of its predecessor. The duology is wrapped up in what may not be the tidiest of endings, but it is real to life and true to itself. I wouldn’t ask any less of Seraphina.





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I love these characters dearly, and I’m just not ready to let them go so completely yet. Will we see more of Seraphina and of Goredd? Make sure to stop back on Monday when we’ll be posting our interview with Rachel where this question will be answered!



kim teal






An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.


21 Responses to “Shadow Scale: Review”

  1. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    “Shadow Scale takes the foundations of Seraphina and explodes its world outward.” <- YESSSSS. I reread Seraphina before Shadow Scale, and much as it blew my mind back in the day, it's very much a first novel, and Shadow Scale builds on it. There's SO much going on in this book, which is why it's 600 pages and could have been longer. I freaking love Porphyry especially. And YES YES YES to that cast. She made me care about all of the saarantraas.

    Also love how much Seraphina messes up and how much she learns. She tends to keep things to herself for too long for example, because of her years of repressing. She also tends to view people through her own lens, and I loved when that was thrown into sharp repose when she learned why Master Smasher was going to commit suicide.

    YES. Jannoula. I LOVE her as a villain. She's so deliciously intelligent and masterful and evil, but also almost sympathetic. Even with her background it's a tough call to make, but there's a reason there. And, yeah, I think she's way more terrifying than a growling dragon. One can kill you, sure, but the other could make you kill your best friend.

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Audiobook Review: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

  2. Renee

    I also really sympathized with Jannoula, and was completely impressed that Hartman was able to accomplish that. I personally loved the romantic development, and even if everything wasn’t completely wrapped up, I thought it was the perfect way to leave these characters, it just made sense. YES to this –> “do I just love being able to mention a girl coming to terms with her dragon heritage” This series is amazing!

    • Kim

      I know! It was all so perfectly handled in its imperfectness if that makes any sense! And I’m, usually one who doesn’t like things left vague or “imperfect.” It just really goes to showcase Rachel’s talent! I’m crossing my fingers so hard that Phina and gang (or at least mention of them!) show up a bit in her news series. And moooooar half dragons please!
      Kim recently posted…Nest and Nightbird: Audiobook Reviews

  3. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK. Well. I’m excited but also nervous, because I read book 1 like two years ago (!!) and I only rated it 3-stars apparently. BUT. At the same time, I only have good memories on it. So why the heck did I rate it low?! GAH. It means it needs a reread. So I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to do that, plus lob the 800+ pages of Shadow Scale on top. WOAH. xD But I WILL! There just too much awesome about saying a girl with dragon heritage, I completely agree. ;-)
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Authors Who Need To Collaborate Their Fantastic Braincells And Cowrite Books

    • Kim

      Oh no need to be nervous, I promise you! And honestly, I don’t think it’s super necessary to have SERAPHINA fresh in your mind before reading this one. There’s a good enough reminder/review at the beginning of SHADOW SCALE. Also, I find when I get overwhelmed with wanting to review a book I’ve already read before a sequel but not having the time for it, I give the audiobook a try. This way i can “read” it while also getting other stuff done. Win-win you know? I hope you get the time for this one, soon, though! IT’s such a wonderful story and a wondrous world! And the SWOONS. There may not be many but they sure do pack a punch. *heart flutters*
      Kim recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review

  4. Carina Olsen

    Yesss. <3 Perfect review Kim :D I LOVED THIS BOOK TOO. It is perfection. And the romance is SO GOOD :D Though, yes, small :\ but I loved how it ended too. So real, and still so amazing. And with your spoiler! YESS. I thought that was so so awesome too :D Love! I'm so happy you loved this book sweetie. <3 Thank you so much for sharing :) And omg. Yess. The villain was so CREEPY. I loved her. And hated her. And wanted her dead. Hmph.
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Shadow Scale Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

    • Kim

      *happy sigh* I love this romance so much. And honestly I thought the addition of the “very intriguing development” was so awesome and so welcome. The resolution of the “triangle” was also great (and I say this as someone who really hates triangles). And Jannoula definitely belongs on the “best villains” shelf. She was tremendously horrific. I loved it!
      Kim recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review

  5. Layla

    I am seriously so excited to read this and also so excited that you weren’t trolling me about the romantic developments in the story. (Makes it approximately a thousand times more amazing to me.) I also really love when sequels expand their reach into the rest of the world at large – sometimes it’s a weakness (things don’t get fleshed out or developed as well as they could), but it sounds like it really works in this book. Which delights me.

    Jannoula has terrified me from the get-go so this makes me feel excited (well, excited and scared).

    Lovely review. As per usual. And I am stoked to see Rachel Hartman’s answers to your questions. :) :) :)
    Layla recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review

    • Kim

      Ha, and you should be excited! It still makes me laugh that you thought I would just troll you like that! Nevarrrrrrr. That is not how I roll. And yeah, everything about the world is just expanded upon but in a totally organic and delightful way. I think Rachel’s world building is impeccable and it stays the course in this installment! Actually even more so since it’s now a continent we get to see instead of just one country.

      Jannoula gets about 5000x more terrifying and, I mean, it’s bad but it’s also kinda sorta awesome. I don’t know. I guess I just like me some real evil women sometimes.

      Can’t wait til that hold comes in for you! You’re gonna love it.
      Kim recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review

  6. Alexa S.

    First of all, I LOVED that intriguing development! I thought it was perfect. And now, about the book, I liked it a lot! It didn’t quite sweep me off my feet the way my beloved Seraphina did, but I enjoyed how Hartman expanded everything about her story. Still a very intriguing + engaging read overall.
    Alexa S. recently posted…Nowhere But Home – Liza Palmer

    • Kim

      It really was such an excellent thing, that intriguing development! And, really, the signs were there all along as my coblogger Layla pointed out to me. I can’t believe I missed them in SERAPHINA! Im glad you liked this one even though it didn’t completely bowl you over like the first volume did.
      Kim recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review

    • Kim

      Yes! Totally agree! And I especially appreciate Jannoula because the recent trend seems to have been “sympathetic villain as possible love interest” a la The Darkling (which is not in any way to impugn the Darkling-I adore that series), but here she’s not interesting or sympathetic because she’s a love interest–it’s because she’s a compelling character that Hartman writes well. I hope you love these when you read them, Lory!
      Kim recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review

    • Kim

      It is Essential Reading if you like YA fantasy! Sometimes the hype machine is a horrible raging monster that will lead you terribly astray. But this is not one of those times!
      Kim recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review

  7. Pili @ In Love With Handmade

    You have no idea how very relieved I am to hear that you loved this one, Kim!
    I am a bit stuck at 35% of my ARC right now because of Jannoula… I hope I can get through that hitch and continue reading and loving this world as much as I was before!
    And YAY for a well handled love triangle of a sort! A realistic and true to the story and the world is always welcome!
    Cannot wait to see the interview with Rachel on Monday!!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Mark This Book Monday: Every Word by Ellie Marney!!!

    • Kim

      Oh yay! I’m happy I could be relieving! I urge you to get over that hump! The story is rich and rewarding. I ultra promise. I do admit, though, that I really didn’t have any moments of stalling with the story. I was completely enraptured from page one.

      And yeah, if this is a love triangle then it’s the best love triangle I’ve ever encountered (and I really really hate love triangles). Honestly, it made my heart swell with happy. There were some details left a little vague, but I’ve tried to get some answers out of Rachel in our interview on Monday!

      Oh I hope you get over that hump soon. There are swoons in store for you, Pili. Swoons!!
      Kim recently posted…Shadow Scale: Review