I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #2
Published: 2015 by Random House
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Seraphina was one of my favorite books of 2012, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the sequel ever since. Enter Shadow Scale, Rachel Hartman’s long-awaited novel that continues the story of our favorite half-dragon heroine.
The kingdom of Goredd is on the brink of war. Because the war involves dragons, it is likely to be disastrous. Goredd’s young queen is much more open-minded than her predecessors, and doesn’t see dragons (or half dragons, which are considered abominations) as inherently evil. In fact, Seraphina, a half dragon, is one of her closest friends. When an ancient text reveals that half dragons, when united, may possess unique skills in fighting dragons, Seraphina embarks on a mission to find the other half dragons and bring them back to Goredd.
Even though uniting the half dragons is a dream come true for Seraphina, it is a dream that can easily turn into a nightmare. *dun dun dun* This was actually a really great thematic element in Shadow Scale, because it shows that even the best intentions can be corrupted and that a utopian vision doesn’t always translate well into reality. As Seraphina’s quest progresses, she realizes that the other half dragons don’t all *want* to be united. When she speaks to them, she is often projecting her own feelings of isolation and her desire to be a part of something on people whose experiences are completely different. She has to learn to see each half-dragon as an individual and separate their narratives from her own. And of course that’s only a small part of it, because spoilers.
I loved how much of the story took place within Seraphina’s mind. For anyone who needs a refresher from book one (but not a spoilery refresher, of course), as a child, Seraphina’s mind began reaching out to other half dragons, which manifested itself in some rather inconvenient visions that were getting in the way of Seraphina’s daily life. In order to remedy it, she developed a “Garden of Grotesques” within her mind, effectively walling off a small portion of her consciousness where she kept avatars of the people she was reaching out to. Seraphina’s journey in Shadow Scale begins from memories of her visions and clues that she’s been able to glean from the grotesques. Seraphina’s garden gave the story a neat dimension, because we got to see how events that vary in scale make a difference in the world. Something that happens in a vision can be just as important to the plot as battles and politics.
If you enjoyed Seraphina, you’ll love Shadow Scale. It’s just as good as its predecessor.