Friday, June 26, 2015

Shadow Scale - by Rachel Hartman

My rating:

Shadow Scale is the sequel to Seraphina and I gather that quite a few people didn't enjoy waiting so long for the sequel. Fortunately I didn't discover Seraphina until the second book had already been release, but I still had trouble waiting a few weeks on the library hold list!

Shadow Scale picks up a few months after the events of the first book and we jump right into the conflict arising from the dragon civil war. In Seraphina's home country of Goredd it looks like the humans will soon be involved in the war as well. Along with Queen Glisselda and Prince Lucian Kiggs, Seraphina makes a plan to gather all the ityasaari (half-dragons) that she can. The hope is that together the ityasaari can use the mind powers they are all gifted with in defense of Goredd.

The first half or so of this novel mainly follows Seraphina and Abdo as they travel throughout different countries search for their fellow half-dragons. Shadow Scale is definitely more plot driven than the first book, but this section does become somewhat tedious and predictable. Abdo is able to help lead Seraphina to the ityasaari they are looking for, but they also end up having to face Jannoula. This half-dragon has the ability to invade the minds of other ityasaari and continuously thwarts Seraphina's attempts to gain the loyalty of the others.

In the second half of the book, we see more of the dragons and their actions in the war. Seraphina also begins the search for her uncle Orma who fled Goredd in the previous book, but is interrupted by more of Jannoula's plots. While Jannoula is a formiddable opponent, Seraphina seems to take a lot of time thinking about how helpless she feels and not actually trying to do anything about it. Seraphina seems a little too helpless in this book and I also didn't like that the tension between her and Kiggs isn't a present as it was in first novel.

Overall, though, I still enjoyed this book very much. Even with a much larger cast of characters, namely all of the ityasaari, Hartman still makes you feel like you know them just as well as Seraphina. I also LOVE the diversity in this book! I've read a lot of YA novels that are specifically marketed at LGBTQ populations, but seeing these themes in a fantasy book was even more exciting. While it isn't marketed to these audiences, Shadow Scale (and Seraphina to a lesser extent) manages to include gay, lesbian, and transgender characters in a completely natural way. I'm just disappointed that Seraphina's story won't be continued in a third book.

Shadow Scale will be my fifth book for the summer reading program from and I am using it for the fantasy book challenge.

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