Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

When Seraphina, the half-dragon musician, discovers that there are others like her, she tries to unify them to live in freedom from persecution, but another half-dragon with greater powers has plans of her own.

First of all, I want to applaud Shadow Scale for its deft handling of exposition in refreshing readers’ memories of the events of the first book, Seraphina. It managed to get me back up to speed without forcing characters to tell each other things they already know, or spending countless paragraphs having the main character think to herself about past events.

The narrative here was personal, political, intense, and suspenseful. Basically, Seraphina is mentally linked to the other half-dragons in her realm. She has a mind garden where she visits them, and every night she has to visit them and soothe them, or else they will send her incapacitating visions. However, one of the denizens of her garden tried to take over her mind, so Seraphina has locked Jannoula into a shed in her garden.

In the course of the story, we learn more about Seraphina and Jannoula’s relationship, and how it’s now affecting current events as two factions of dragons prepare to war against each other. Seraphina’s mind doesn’t work the way that other half-dragon minds do, and this handicap renders her powerless against Jannoula’s schemes, and puts the other half-dragons in grave danger.

It felt like this was the end of the story, not the middle book in a trilogy, which was refreshingly satisfying. As happy as I’d be to spend more time with Seraphina, Glisselda, Kiggs, and Orma, there’s nothing left to tell of this particular story. However, I bet Hartman isn’t done with this world–at least, I hope not!

Many thanks to Random House for the review copy.

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