There’s Dragon in Us All

Posted on November 30, 2015 «
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book review shadow scale rachel hartman

Book Review
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

I read Seraphina back in 2013 and was thrilled last year to learn there would be a sequel. I was lucky enough to get approved for the ARC of Shadow Scale on Netgalley just days before its release earlier this year. I put off reading it. Seraphina was one of my top reads in 2013, I was worried that I wouldn’t remember much of the complicated world and that the sequel wouldn’t live up to the first book. To prepare myself, I checked out the audiobook of Seraphina and immersed myself in the world of Goredd again. (Check out my review!)

Re-reading Seraphina helped me become familiar with the world and odd language again. Upon initial examination, I can see how the immense size of Shadow Scale (608 pages!) can be overwhelming, daunting even. And once I finished, I can understand how some might be disappointed in how Seraphina’s journey came to an end. Personally, I adored Shadow Scale.

Shadow Scale wraps up Seraphina’s journey of self-discovery. After years in near draconic isolation, she is forced out in the world encountering situations and feelings she has been denied because of what she is. I was fascinated by how the different countries treated Seraphina and others like her. It was a reflection of how the actual world often treats people who have real or perceived differences. I often asked myself, as I was reading, if I was more like the people of Porphyry or the citizens of SamSam when I encounter others? I hope I am like those living in Porphyry.

I adored the others that Seraphina shared her journey with. Abdo was my absolute favorite. His joie de vivre poured off the page and was infectious. When Abdo graced a scene, my heart sang. I always seemed to have a smile on my face when he was bounced around the page. My heart broke when he faced the greatest villain. It was difficult to see someone so full of life suffer so greatly.

Believe it or not, the dragons brought a bit a humor to the story. The Comonont is forced to stay in his saarantras for most of the novel. His bumblings and attempts to cope with human emotion brought me some laugh out loud moments. Later in the novel, the Comonot actually transforms back to his saarantras JUST to feel a certain emotion he had not experienced yet. It was quite an embarrassing moment for Seraphina!

I’m sure that some readers were hoping for more romance between Kiggs and Seraphina. I was happy that it stayed in the background as they had planned near the end of book one. I was happy with how Hartman handled their relationship and didn’t mind that not all the details were shared. After all, in my opinion, this is not a book about Seraphina finding love. It’s a book about Seraphina finding herself.

book review shadow scale rachel hartman

Shadow Scale gets a thumbs up from me. It goes against the typical young adult tropes of love triangles and end of the world extremes. I was mesmerized by Seraphina’s journey. I was delighted by some of her grotesques and terrified by others. There are some wonderful revelations that are deftly handled. In the end, I’m happy I decided to read Shadow Scale. I hope my library gets the audiobook version soon!


The Quick Book Review

There’s Dragon in Us All

Shadow Scale

Author: Rachel Hartman
Published on: March 10, 2015
Pages: 608
Series: Seraphina #2
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Goodreads • Amazon Affiliate Link
My Rating: four-stars
Also in this series: Seraphina


I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

About Rachel Hartman

Rachel Hartman lives and writes in Vancouver, BC.

Her first YA fantasy novel, Seraphina, was published by Random House on July 10th, 2012. Here are some things that are already being said about Seraphina by some fabulous authors:

“A book worth hoarding, as glittering and silver-bright as dragon scales, with a heroine who insists on carving herself a place in your mind.” — Naomi Novik, New York Times bestselling author of the Temeraire series.

“Seraphina is strong, complex, talented — she makes mistakes and struggles to trust, with good reason, and she fights to survive in a world that would tear her apart. I love this book!” — Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author.

“Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about dragons, it turns out there is, and plenty! Rachel Hartman’s rich invention never fails to impress — and to convince. It’s smart and funny and original, and has characters I will follow to the ends of the earth.” — Ellen Kushner, World Fantasy Award-winning author.

(from GoodReads)


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6 responses to “There’s Dragon in Us All

  1. TheSeedQueen

    I too loved Shadow Scale. . .to a degree. I find it amusing that the quote you selected is one that really annoyed me. I mean I’ve read over a thousand pages of Seraphina’s story, invested hours–nay days of my life crying with her, exploring her world And mind and suddenly one sentence is supposed to sum up what may have been one of the most important decisions in her life. For all that was written, the richness of the world and characters, the ending of this book felt rushed and cheap in comparison.

    • The ending did feel rushed, but I enjoyed my time in the world. And I’m a bit sick everyone in YA books yapping on and on about their love life that I enjoyed the fact the love story ended up in the background.

  2. This is not a series I have heard of before. But I like the sound of it. Dragons, fun sidekicks and a little romance. Sounds like a great YA series.

  3. Great review, Terri. And I think you are right for re-reading Seraphina first. I hardly remember reading it the first time. Though, I do recall having enjoyed it. I’ll need to check this out.

    • The world is so rich and detailed it really helped to re-read Seraphina first. There is a short recap at the start of Shadow Scale that was helpful. But I did enjoy re-reading Seraphina as an audiobook.