Shadow Scale

Shadow ScaleShadow ScaleShadow Scale (Seraphina) by Rachel Hartman by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Scale concludes the story begun in Seraphina, which I enjoyed enough to look forward to reading the sequel.

Unfortunately, Shadow Scale is a much weaker book, and it’s hard to recommend it, even to those who have read the first. I absolutely would not suggest anyone read it without reading the first – it won’t really make sense and you’ll miss out on the world-building.

In this book, Seraphina seems clueless, traveling about and just fortuitously having things happen to her, instead of making things happen. She’s also more self-pitying, and it gets tedious.

I don’t really like fantasy books where the hero has an all-powerful ally, and I also don’t like it when the antagonist is all-powerful. Jannoula ends up being that sort of foe, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the difficulties Seraphina found herself in because of Jannoula’s abilities. Fantasy novels are lots of fun for me, unless I reach a point where suspension of disbelief doesn’t work and it turns into ridiculousness. In that way, Seraphina worked for me while Shadow Scale didn’t.

The romantic triangle issue is resolved (no spoilers here, I can’t imagine anyone who didn’t think it would resolve in one way or another; this is a YA book after all), but it felt too neat. Does anything in life work out in such a convenient manner? It was eye-rolling, and telegraphed way too early in the book.

I did finish it, and so it was at least good enough for that (and at 600 pages, I did debate it.) It’s a quick read for all of it’s length, but ultimately a very unsatisfying end to a promising start.

Not recommended.

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Seraphina

SeraphinaSeraphinaSeraphina by Rachel Hartman by Rachel Hartman

I want to say that covers don’t sway me when I’m selecting books to read, but that’s not true. I can absolutely fall for a gorgeous cover (although a weak description can make me put the book aside, beautiful cover or not). Seraphina was one where the cover caught my eye and the description sounded appealing enough. Sold! Or, borrowed at least, as this was another library book for me. 🙂

While the book itself doesn’t fully live up to that cover, it’s a solid-enough entry in the fantasy realm that I’ll look for the second book. I want to know what happens with Seraphina, the dragons, the princess and the prince.

What didn’t work so well for me, and kept this from being a YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW review? The pacing is a bit slow at times (or at least uneven). There is a big section early in the book where Seraphina is “tending” her “mental garden” that is so boring to read. It ends up mattering, but I mostly skimmed it – I hate reading dream sequences in novels, and this was too much like a dream sequence. Some plot points seemed too obvious. Of course this or that is going to happen, the only question was when or how. And one big inconsistency with the prince annoyed me to no end. It’d be a big spoiler to say what it is though, so if you want to know, highlight the area below:

The prince is sooooo big on full honesty from Seraphina, right? But is he being fully honest with the princess, his fiance? When is he going to mention the little thing he’s got going on with Seraphina?? I know, it’s not a love match or anything, but the princess so far seems pretty awesome and she deserves better than those two and what they’re doing behind her back.

So, to sum up: it shows a lot of promise, but it could have been much better. I’ll look for the second book in the series, but it’s not the highest priority for me. If you’re a die-hard fantasy fan, you may want to try it, but I wouldn’t suggest it for those new to the genre. This won’t convert you.

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