I won't begin to tell you how much I loved Rachel Hartman's Seraphina, but you can read my thoughts here.
Here's the thing. The first in a series can be jaw dropping stunning. As readers it's our first encounter with the author's world and characters. If you followed the above link, you will know that I was completely smitten by Seraphina. But that fresh new world and remarkable characters, can't stay new in a sequel and so, to be honest, I was afraid going into this one.
So what is the verdict?
Ultimately, Shadow Scale is a complex, deep, and fascinating read. It's also very long. I wasn't sure that it could engage me for close to 600 pages, but it did. It isn't fresh and new in the same way that Seraphina was. This sequel is more like visiting old friends and getting to know them better. It's about making new ones, and travelling their world with them. We get to journey to different countries and immerse ourselves in their cultures. At the same time, we get a new way of understanding our own.
In this book Seraphina sets off to find the other half dragons in hopes that together they can create a force field that will stop the old dragons from destroying Goredd and the rest of the planet. She has been able to connect to many of them in her mind, although she hasn't met them all in person. It's a challenging enough task since there are still many places where dragons and half dragons are feared and persecuted.
As if this isn't enough, one of these other half dragons, Jannoula, has started taking over the minds of the others. Because Jannoula is a seductive, brilliant and complex character, she is a perfectly terrifying villain. She nearly took over Seraphina's mind when Seraphina was girl, but with the help of her uncle Orma, a full dragon, was able to trick her into leaving. As Jannoula gains trust and power over the half dragons and leaders of different countries, Seraphina begins to doubt her own powers and fears for what will become of them all.
What I liked
I liked that we get to learn more about the world Seraphina inhabits. I like the diversity portrayed in the characters and the acceptance of difference that underlies the saga.
I appreciated that there was less focus on the love interest between Prince Lucian and Seraphina, and more on the adventure.
In this story Seraphina becomes more self aware and ultimately finds and learns to direct her own power.
What I didn't like
I deeply missed those passages about music that left me feeling that I was the musical instrument being played.