Tag Archives: Seraphina

Shadow Scale (Seraphina 2) by Rachel Hartman

Stars: 2 out of 5.

I loved the first book in this duology so much that I rated it 5 stars. Needless to say, I had high hopes for the second book as well. Unfortunately, none of my hopes were realized, so this book left a bitter taste in my mouth and a sense that I had wasted several hours of my life. Now I realize that some of this might be subjective, and some of it might be higher than usual expectations, but I think the biggest issue for me is that the story didn’t go in the direction I expected it to go.

I expected a direct continuation of the events that happened at the end of Seraphina – a war with the dragons, and Seraphina, Krieggs and Celda in the middle of it, trying to protect the kingdom of Goredd from the scaly monsters who try to destroy them…

Instead we get this road movie where Phina travels to different places throughout the book, meeting new people that she will never talk to again once she leaves, in search of the other half-dragons she saw in her mind garden. It makes for a very disjointed and rather boring story, to tell you the truth. Gone is the sense of urgency we experienced at the end of last book. Yes, Seraphina has a deadline by which to reach her final destination, but it has nothing to do with the imminent war with the dragons. And honestly, the book drags until about three quarters of the way through when things finally pick up.

The issue here is that I, as a reader, don’t care about the new people Seraphina encounters, and the author doesn’t give me enough time to get to know them to actually care about them before the story moves towards another location, leaving them behind. And I am once again introduced to a whole different set of new characters who stay on the page just as fleetingly.

But I think my biggest problem is the villain in this story. Jannoula is so overpowered that it’s almost laughable at the end. Also, her powers are inconsistent. First, it’s mentioned that she can only control one person at a time, and even that tires her, but by the end of the book, she is suddenly able to control all the half-dragons and make her aura “glow” so that it’s visible to humans, and she can manipulate humans at her will. Not to mention that she always seems one step ahead of Seraphina, no matter what she does or what happens. And the way she is defeated at the end stinks of deus ex machina as well.

Finally, I really hated the ending. I think it wasn’t fair to the characters, especially to Seraphina. She spent all her life hiding and lying. She decided at the beginning of this book that she would not lie about herself anymore… yet she agrees to be the other woman? To live in shadow? To live a lie for the rest of her life? How is that a good ending for her? Not to mention that this paints Krieggs in a horrible way as well. He is a coward who just manipulated her into doing what he wants, not considering how that will impact her life.

Anyway, this was a huge disappointment, and I am kinda glad this was only a duology, because I would not have picked up another book in this series.

Seraphina (Seraphina 1) by Rachel Hartman

Stars: 5 out of 5

This book has been languishing on my TBR list since 2013, and I’m glad I joined the Cleaning out your TBR list this year, because I have read some amazing books that I had added on my list way back when, and never got around to reading. Seraphina is one such book.

I don’t usually read YA or romance. I used to love these genders when I was younger, but I grew tired of the tropes, and some typical plot lines in these book usually drive me up the wall, like the inevitable love triangle or a too dumb to live heroine who nevertheless is a special snowflake. 

I am glad to say that none of these tropes are present in Seraphina. This is a very well-written story with an interesting world, fleshed out characters, and a clever plot. This doesn’t read like YA. No, scratch that. This reads like what good YA should be.

I loved Seraphina as a character. She is smart and headstrong, but also vulnerable. She has unresolved issues and a deep sense of worthlessness. I am glad that her journey in this book is of self-discovery, but more importantly of discovering her own worth. She goes from someone who tries to be as ordinary and unnoticeable as possible, to someone who can perform in front of a ballroom full of people and not flinch from the limelight. She goes from hating herself for being half-dragon, to embracing her heritage and feeling a sense of pride. 

I also love that by the end of the book, she finally accepts the other grotesques as part of her tribe, instead of just figments of her imagination that she had to hide in her mental garden. I could feel her joy when she met Lans and Abdo, and even Dame Okra. When she finally allowed herself to feel like she was part of a family.

The central theme of this book is self-discovery and evolution, I think. Selda and Kriggs grow up tremendously through this book as well, and a lot of it is thanks to Seraphina. Even Orma finally makes the decision not to hide his feelings anymore or feel ashamed of his family. Everybody learns and evolves through the events of this book and comes out better at the end of it. Or at least, with a better sense of what their purpose in life is. 

And even though this book leaves our heroes with a lot of uncertainty – a war with dragons looming on the horizon, the Queen’s health in jeopardy, a shaky alliance with other human kingdoms, it also leaves us with a sense of renewed hope. The status quo of the last 40 years has been broken, but hopefully something better will emerge out of it in the end. I also hope that Seraphina will find her place in this world and her worth.

I am excited to see where the story goes from here, so I have already purchased the second book in the series.