Sequel to Seraphina (my review)
By Rachel Hartman
Available now from Random House BFYR (Penguin Random House)
It has been almost three years since I read SERAPHINA. Rachel Hartman makes the wait for the sequel worth it, but I sure wish that I had had time to reread SERAPHINA before diving into SHADOW SCALE. I found myself a bit lost at the beginning as I struggled to remember who the characters beyond Orma, Glissenda, Kiggs, Abdo, and Seraphina were.
SERAPHINA was a mystery with a pretty tight focus. SHADOW SCALE is a globe-trotting epic adventure. It dives deeper into who Seraphina is and what her potential could be, while sending her on a journey to find the other half dragons, who might be key to achieving peace in the dragon civil war. However, an old and powerful enemy is lurking. I found that the new characters came pretty fast and furious and the book didn't spend as much time with old favorites as I would've liked. (Orma, for instance, makes little more than a cameo appearance.)
At the same time, I'm glad SHADOW SCALE wasn't just a retread or indulgence for fans of the first novel. It goes forth and explores new territory, figuratively as well as literally. The depth of Hartman's worldbuilding is something to behold. There's a large range of cultures (including language and religion), which presents issues to Seraphina's ambassadorial mission. There's also the history of all the countries, illuminated slowly through old manuscripts and the different ways the countries tell the stories of the Saints.
If you want more scheming and plotting than you can shake a stick at, pick up SHADOW SCALE. (After reading SERAPHINA, natch.) So many characters after different agendas, and so often with very different ways of seeing the world. Also, after you read the book, leave a comment so we can discuss just how hard are jaws hit the floor after the romantic revelations. The romance takes a backseat to the action plot in SHADOW SCALE, but Hartman makes the romantic bits count.
SHADOW SCALE is a sequel that builds off of the original brilliantly. Seraphina is friendly and kind, but she still makes missteps when approaching new people. She's also still learning, and frustrated by, her powers. She's an absolutely delightful character, and the world around her is a treat to explore. SERAPHINA and SHADOW SCALE exemplify everything YA fantasy can be.