Plot [with Spoilers for Seraphina]:
For the past three months, dragons have been at war. The rebel dragons who reject the alliance with humans are attacking the loyalists led by the Ardmagar. Caught in the middle are the humans, particularly the kingdom of Goredd, currently the home of the Ardmagar himself. Seraphina is one of those humans. Or actually, she’s half-human and half-dragon. She realizes that it may just be her fellow half-dragons and herself who could be the tipping point in the fight, so she decides to go and look for them.
Shadow Scale was an exciting, fast-paced read and an (almost) entirely satisfying conclusion to Seraphina. I had a lot of fun reading it.
There are many lovely touches about Shadow Scale, especially regarding (gender) representation. Not only is there an entire culture that operates with more than two genders (six, in fact, if I’m not mistaken), there is also trans*woman and there are queer people everywhere which is simply lovely. Plus, Hartman also features PoC in her world and manages to cast a huge question mark about the apparent standard of whiteness by revealing that the dragon’s human form is actually dark-skinned and that they only use their silver blood to make it lighter in Goredd to calm the skittish white people there.
There was even this one short, elated moment where I thought that maybe, maybe they’d actually end the central love triangle (which is not your usual love triangle so I didn’t mind it at all) in a poly relationship. That didn’t really pan out, although it certainly isn’t disproven and there is definitely room enough for me to choose to believe that that’s exactly what happens, even if it isn’t made explicit. (Next time maybe?!)
Generally it was a lovely book with lovely characters and lovely world-building that actually showed diverse cultures in the various kingdoms Seraphina visits and shows her struggling with the culture clash and her own preconceptions.
And it had one of the creepiest antagonists I’ve read in a long time. I don’t want to talk more about it so I don’t spoil the book, but trust me when I say that the entire thing gave me goosebumps.
The book really would get all the brownie points from me if it wasn’t for the fact that sometimes the plot twists are a little obvious and if the love triangle had been more explicitly resolves as I would have liked it to be resolved. Be that as it may I’m really looking forward to reading whatever Hartman comes up with next. I will be there.