Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

April 1, 2015 4 stars, Audio Book, Book Review 25 ★★★★

Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel HartmanShadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #2
Published by Listening Library, Random House Books for Young Readers on March 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 608
Length: 18 hours, 9 minutes
Narrator: Mandy Williams, W. Morgan Sheppard
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
My Reviews in this series: Seraphina

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?


Shadow Scale had a much more complex feel to it then the first book Seraphina. I personally consider these books to be adult fantasy with crossover young adult appeal. Not because they have adult content – they don’t. But because while Seraphina is young she is for all intents and purposes an adult. The first book was closer to being a YA novel with a simpler plot while Shadow Scale toed the line for me towards epic fantasy with its much slower build and deeper world building as well as a broader scope to the plot. It pulled in several nations, peoples, cultures, religions and really tried to give you a “bigger picture” type of story rather then the one character focused story that the first book did.

Enough characters to fill a box of chocolates

Shadow Scale has a ton of new characters. Much of the slow build during the first half of the book is Seraphina gathering these characters together. She sets off on a quest of sorts wanting to gather the other half dragons like herself and bring them back to her country to hopefully assist in the war that has just started. While I found each new character interesting this section of the book as I mentioned is very slow but still very rich in world building. Readers that enjoy savoring epic fantasy would likely enjoy this novel as a lighter epic fantasy.

Hooray romance takes the back burner for once

I was so pleasantly surprised by how the romance wasn’t the central focus of this book, it wasn’t even a secondary focus but more like an extra plot point. It made it so much more refreshing to read. I enjoyed the romance between the characters in the first book but I liked how here it didn’t get in the way of the serious things that Seraphina and Prince Lucien both needed to do. Indeed I have to say that the way it ended really surprised me. I do so enjoy being surprised.

Bringing it all together

As there were various subplots going on there was still a central antagonist going up against Seraphina and it was very personal. This part of the plot was both a positive and a negative for me. I’m curious to see how other fans will take to that part of the story. In the end the author did a great job of pulling everything together and wrapping everything up for me.

Thoughts on the audio narration

This one was dual narrated by Mandy Williams and W. Morgan Sheppard. Mandy Williams was also one of the narrators of the first book Seraphina. I definitely enjoyed the addition of W. Morgan Sheppard who wasn’t the second narrator in Seraphina. They both did an excellent job here with the narration especially considering the number of characters. The narration was smooth and the voice acting superb. I did like the narration on this book more so then the first but still recommend both.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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25 Responses to “Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman”

  1. Anne @ Lovely Literature

    I agree on all points! And the ending totally surprised me, you don’t see that everyday. But I really enjoyed how different it was compared to most HEA. Still, I will bet a lot of fans of the original will be none too pleased…
    Anne @ Lovely Literature recently posted…Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2015My Profile

  2. Grace

    I loved this book! It was so neat how much went on just in Seraphina’s head. And I was also glad that the romance wasn’t a big part of the book and that people were more concerned with saving the kingdom than an awkward love triangle. There’s time for that later. 🙂
    Grace recently posted…March 2015: A Month in ReviewMy Profile

  3. Sara L.

    I loved Shadow Scale as well! More than Seraphina, actually. There’s so much to like about Shadow Scale, between the new characters, the expanded world-building, and how personal the conflict became for Seraphina. And Jannoula… OOOOOOOOH, I liked her a lot as the villain. 🙂

    Funny, I was just writing my review of Shadow Scale yesterday – and realized that even though I love it, it’s such a hard book to review! Because there’s so much to talk about.
    Sara L. recently posted…Recent Reads: “The Silmarillion” by J.R.R. TolkienMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

      Mandy Williams narrated for both but the secondary narrator was different from the first (Justine Eyre) and second (W. Morgan Sheppard). Both did good jobs, but I do think the second book will be more to your liking but you’ll definitely want to read both. Keep in mind they have slow building starts. But I think you have plenty of patience for that sort of thing.
      Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel HartmanMy Profile

  4. Lynn

    I haven’t read the first of these – I can’t deny I was very attracted by the covers which I think are lovely. I might pick up the series eventually. Dragons are involved after all and it’s nice to see that the romance doesn’t take centre stage.
    Lynn 😀
    Lynn recently posted…Put down your weapon you have 20 seconds to comply!My Profile

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    I’m really excited to hear that the romance takes a backseat in this one. Love me some Kiggs, but I love Seraphina more – and I don’t want her story to be outshone by their romance (or potentially a new romance?? I’ll find out soon enough). Definitely excited to read more about her mental “garden.”
    Danya @ Fine Print recently posted…Tough Traveling: EnforcersMy Profile

        • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

          Audible right now has the 30 free trial with two free audio books. You should totally do that. Normally it’s only one free audio book! Then just cancel after you listen.

          Our just download audio books from the library!! Use a phone app like Smart Audio book player, it is amazing.let me know if you need help setting it up. I told Nathan how and now he is hooked on audio books from the library like me. Cause yes they can be pricey but libraries are amazing for downloadable audio. I bet your library had a fabulous selection. Beck if you don’t use your library card can I????? Lol I have like four library cards! Lol all I ever use it for is audio books and the occasional ebook. You need to tap into that!!

          To get audio from publishers try Library Thing or Solid Gold Audio Reviewers on Audio Jukebox. 🙂
          Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. ValenteMy Profile