Rachel Hartman’s debut novel, Seraphina, introduced readers to the complex landscape of Goredd, with its political nuances, social hierarchy, religion, and some of the most interesting shape-shifting dragons young-adult literature has seen. By the novel’s end, Seraphina, the book’s musically inclined heroine and window into this world, had finally begun to accept herself as ityasaari, or half-human/half-dragon.
Shadow Scale picks up its predecessor’s storyline three months after the young Princess Glisselda has claimed regency over Goredd in place of her ailing grandmother and offered sanctuary to the ousted leader of the dragons. As retribution, dragon-hating humans wreak havoc in the streets in a display of displeasure, while loyalist and invading dragons battle, leaving Goredd burning in their wake.
In the midst of this chaos Seraphina learns that a group of ityasaari could be the secret weapon Goredd needs to survive should the dragon rebellion succeed. Accompanied by another young half-dragon who can sense others of their kind, Seraphina is sent on a voyage across kingdoms to ostensibly raise arms for Goredd, while in fact searching for her half-dragon brethren.
Hartman deftly extends the fantastic realm she has created, expanding on the world’s culture and history in such vivid detail that – dragons notwithstanding – it is difficult to believe it is fictional. Seraphina’s journey is full of enticing characters, both good and evil, and is rife with danger and adventure. Building on the strong voice established in the first book, our heroine’s vulnerability and wit again draw in readers as she bravely battles enemies (and sometimes herself) on many fronts. Love, loss, and loyalty force Seraphina to step out of the shadows and embrace her true power – but can she do it in time?
Shadow Scale is an exceptionally written fantasy seen through the eyes of a young woman caught between two worlds. Fans of Seraphina who have been eagerly awaiting this follow up will not be disappointed.