Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Shadow Scale

Publish April 23, 2015

A dragon civil war is underway in Shadow Scale, sequel toRachel Hartman’s spectacular debut, Seraphina. Fearing an impending breach of the treaty between dragons and humans, the kingdom of Goredd begins to re-arm. But forty years of peace have left Goredd ill-prepared to properly combat the full force of dragon fury and, desperate, the royal family turns to Seraphina. Seraphina is a talented musician, harpischord teacher to Queen Glisselda, and a half-dragon who has successfully hidden her identity from all but her closest confidantes. Upon learning that half dragons – ityasaari – can harness and direct their psychic energy, Seraphina embarks upon a quest to locate others, guided by clues she sees in the mental garden that embodies her telepathic connection with her kind. An old enemy, Jannoula, resurfaces and seeks vengeance using an uncanny ability to possess the minds of others and undermine Seraphina. As friends and allies succumb to Jannoula’s corrupting influence, Seraphina discovers that the very mechanisms she has relied on for protection have prevented the full realization of her awe-inspiring ityasaari power. Though its introduction provides adequate context for readers who missed Seraphina, Shadow Scale as a whole falls short of the very high standard set by Hartman’s debut. Where Seraphina provided an exquisitely written murder mystery woven into richly imagined layers of history, politics, and culture, Shadow Scale becomes mired down by tedious backstory and a plot that focuses far too heavily on the inner workings of Seraphina’s mind. A slow beginning may be off-putting for some readers, redeemed somewhat by more intense pacing through the latter half of the novel. Hartman’s strength still lies in her mastery of language – vivid descriptions and brilliant characters shine through the pages, further developing the unique world and ideas begun in the first novel.

Shadow Scale

Rachel Hartman
Doubleday Canada: Penguin Random House Canada
ISBN 13: 978-0-385-66860-6

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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