SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman

Read this if you’re in the mood for: fantasy YA, awesome world building, badass heroine, magical creatures, feminism, music, secondary characters

Summary: 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?

Read this if you like:
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater 
Both Stiefvater and Hartman create immersive worlds with interesting and dangerous creatures. Both of these books feature high quality, lush writing that you can sink your teeth into!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson
Just like Carson's Elisa, Seraphina is whip smart with a tendency towards grumpiness. Both books also take their world building outside of the traditional "medieval England" landscape, and both books feature wonderfully tasty descriptions of food!

Talon by Julie Kagawa
There are not a lot of epic fantasy dragon books out there where the dragons are the main characters. Thankfully, besides SHADOW SCALE, you can also read Kagawa's TALON, which also features dragons taking human form, dragon slayers, and secrets galore!

The Rec: Shadow Scale is the companion novel to SERAPHINA. (If you haven't read SERAPHINA, check out our recommendation!)  I say companion, not sequel, because even though the characters are the same, and it continues some of the events set in motion by SERAPHINA, this book truly stands on its own as a full-fledged fantasy masterpiece.

Reading SHADOW SCALE is like snuggling into your favorite chair with a cookie and some tea. The world is so wonderfully immersive--especially in this book, where we get to see many of the lands mentioned in the first book. The world building is top-notch, but it’s really Hartman’s characters that bring everything alive.

I love Seraphina. She’s not a strong female character in the sense that she’s wielding a sword, or striking you down with her words. Her strength sometimes comes with a grumble of “I’d rather not,” which is perfect, because despite being half dragon, she feels wholly human and real.

Hands down, my favorite part of SHADOW SCALE is that Seraphina doesn’t end the book fully realizing who she is or what she wants. Her life doesn’t get knotted up in a neat bow just because her pages end. It’s a satisfying ending, but the book doesn’t end where her journey ends, and she’s left with a complicated and real life. She still doesn’t know everything, and she’s still making possibly wrong decisions, and I love that because it’s so rarely seen at the end of a book.

Caveat: This is not the sword-slashing kind of epic fantasy, so you should be prepared for something a little quieter (but no less powerful!)

You should read this because: SHADOW SCALE is a masterpiece of character study, world building, and intricate plotting!

Read this book!
SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman (Random House, March 2015)

Recommendation by: Sara