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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 »Glisselda reveals she has feelings for Seraphina. She kisses her. Glisselda is queer. YESSSSSSSSSSSS. « Hide 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.
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!
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.