I Read Shadow Scale and I Was Disappointed

I adored Seraphina when I read it last year. I even reread it before Shadow Scale‘s release because I wanted to be prepped for being back in the world. I couldn’t wait to get back in the world. But as the title of this blog post clearly states, I was not entirely happy with the result. It wasn’t dull or safe, if only it was, instead I just flat out did not understand the point of a lot of what happened in the story; and the ending left me feeling so hollow, especially when things did not play out the way I wanted them to, with nothing better or at least hopeful to counterbalance these things.

I will say one more thing before I get into the spoilery part of this. As someone who hopes to be published one day, I don’t ever want to make it appear like I’m bad-mouthing an author. Because of this, I have considered lately not posting negative reviews, since I feel I’m getting closer to hopefully becoming an author myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed all my books so far this year until now. I disagree with choices Hartman made in this book, but ultimately it’s her story and creation and I respect that, even I don’t care for the result. I want to make that clear because I might get ranty, but it’s only because I love Seraphina’s character so much and I felt so invested, only to be let down. I wouldn’t post this review if it had not been a highly a highly anticipated sequel for me.

(And if you haven’t read it I wouldn’t scroll down at all due to GIFs at the bottom, though I know I will get less comments that way, but I just really want to warn you!)


gr-shadow-scaleThe pacing of this book was quite strange in my opinion, kind of like Mockingjay. It starts off in Godderd, and I feel like I read that part so long ago I don’t even remember much of what happened other than Abdo and Lars experimenting with mind-fire. Then Seraphina sets off on her journey to find the other half-dragons. At first it was kind of interesting; she has varied success with those she comes in contact with the others of her kind. I was along for the ride because I love Seraphina, and Abdo too, though it was sad once he had his accident and was so much less himself.

Anyhow, I was going along with the story, not loving the pace but tolerating it, but then everything between Porphyry and going back to Godderd just felt sort of odd. I don’t know how to explain it. I was just really, really ready to move on at that point. The Porphyry part sort of dragged for me with not much happening (though I thought the setting was interesting), and then all the flying and walking and hanging out in caves was just boring.

The big bright spot of Porphyry was finally getting Kiggs back in the story. He has a new beard and Seraphina loves it! Ah it’s so cute! They do their best to maintain appearances though, but seriously, there seems to be no backing down, nothing to indicate the future heartache.

Now, in case you’re thinking I’m dense because of the prologue, I will say it worried me. I did know that them not being together in the end was a possibility, but I had hoped if that was the case, it would have been handled much differently. Mostly I was hoping I misinterpreted what I thought I was reading between Seraphina’s words to the historian.

And then what’s worse about how everything went down is that Glisselda doesn’t even love Kiggs that way because she loves Serpahina. It would have been more manageable if she loved Kiggs, because at least one of them could love the other in their marriage. Instead it’s entirely political, which might be realistic, but this is a book and I want my happy ending, dangit. But my ships have been sunk before, Louisa May Alcott did it without making me hate Little Women. So what’s the difference?

Well, where is Seraphina’s happiness? Or Kiggs’? I love them both dearly and want them to be happy. But I don’t feel we good closure for Seraphina AT ALL. She says she’s OK but I don’t see any development to indicate this or feel it from her. Orma doesn’t know who she is, so that sucks. If she absolutely could not be with Kiggs in Hartman’s mind, could we at least be able to go through Serpahina’s thought process and end up OK in the end with her? Maybe Josquin could come back in her life and we can see a hint of a possible romance there? (By the way what happened to him after that accident? I was expecting follow-up but we never got it!) Not that it has to be about romance, but I just want the girl to be happy, and being back home with her music and peace without her uncle or Kiggs or even Abdo is not enough for me.

And now seems just a good as time as any to bring up Orma. There was so little Orma in this sequel it was ridiculous. I understand why in the context of this particular story, but quite frankly I don’t think we needed this story. I think this could have played out differently. I loved Orma in the first book, and I wanted more of him and his snark.

So Pandowdy takes Jannoula to live in the cave with him for the next millennium? Why? What’s the point? Does he actually know he will be able to withstand her? It just feels like that leaves the door open for her to come back. I guess Hartman was trying to be humane, but honestly someone should have killed that woman. I’m sorry she had a crappy life but she was evil.

And The actual war is so glossed over it doesn’t even feel like it happened. I thought the book was going to be much more focused on the actual war, not the politics of its impendent.

There is so much detail about what Seraphina is able to do at the end with the fire and is she a Saint and all this stuff and I don’t like it really tied in well with the story overall and I especially don’t think it really did anything for the ending. I mean, the whole thing about half-dragon Saints and their abilities was really interesting. but everything felt so empty at the end anyway it was just like eh, what was the point?

But most of all, I’m furious about the Kiggs thing. There are few romances I have shipped harder than Seraphina and Kiggs, and she kept building it up in this book only to cut it off abruptly with lame reasoning that is reduced to a few sentences. If you’re going to burn my ship down, at least let there be gut-wrenching conversations, thorough thinking-it-out sessions, and one last goodbye kiss with all the feels. (I mean seriously, that scene early in the book when Kiggs is holding the book between him and Seraphina and he kisses it because he cannot kiss her I about lost it! It was the sweetest thing ever and then what?! UGH.) otp-feelsAt least sink my ship in a blaze of glory.

go-down-with-shipI hate for anyone else to feel the way I do, but I would also love to know if I’m not alone! Was anyone else disappointed by the ending of Seraphina’s story in Shadow Scale?

14 thoughts on “I Read Shadow Scale and I Was Disappointed

  1. Your ship did not sink! She ends up with both of them. 😀 So, at the end miss fusspots (can’t think of her name outside of magic mind garden) teases Seraphina about what they are going to do when Gliss needs to get preggers to produce an heir. And she says something sly like we will figure it out like we always do. I so interpreted the ending to be that they are in a poly relationship, with Gliss and Kiggs married for political reasons solely because neither of them are into one another (since Gliss likes women) and Seraphina as their partner, so to speak. I actually really liked this because it is so different, but wish she would have made it more pronounced. Because it would have been easy to miss if you aren’t inclined to think that way.

    Otherwise I agree about the lackluster conclusion to the war and Seraphina’s role as a saint-like figure. I think there could have been more there. Overall, less focus on Jannoula. And more Orma!

    • So the way I interpreted that was that since Seraphina was going to have to let them be, Orka was asking her if she would be OK when Kiggs and Glisselda might have to do the deed to get kids, and that she was saying Kiggs would find a way to talk them out of it or something. I can’t lie though, a poly relationship makes me pretty uncomfortable. I think it would be better for her to move on than to consent to that; in fact, neither she nor Kiggs seem like they would choose that.

      • Yea, I agree it was out of left field for the characters a little bit. Or at least what we saw of the characters so far. There was something at the end when Gliss shares her feelings for Seraphina and Seraphina thinks something mildly indicating that she feels it too. I dunno, different strokes for different folks. I just thought it was unexpected and ultimately two people are in love with Sera and she always wanted love. 🙂

  2. I will believe Anne’s conclusion hahahah. Just for my sake because WHY. I literally agree with EVERYTHING YOU SAID. I just saw no point to having a sequel because SPOILER SPOILER the conclusions for Shadow Scale are the same as the ones for Seraphina!!!! The relationship hasn’t progressed, Orma is, actually worse off now!! And also there could possibly still be a dragon war! Also I don’t even remember the historian’s note now that I look back on it. I don’t want to remember it ha.

    • So glad I’m not alone! And you actually hit on something I’ve decided to write a discussion post on now, about character arcs and how important they are for a story. If the main character has a flat or negative arc then I’m just not going to be happy with the story.

  3. I skipped all the spoilery parts since I haven’t read this and plan to, eventually. But it’s interesting to read with that sort of author eye – when you’re a little more disconnected from a story and see the author’s choices and the writing and start to consider how you’d have written it. It’s hard when it’s a book you want to love and characters you like, but it’s a good exercise as an author – to think through the story and the audience’s reactions and why we make the choices we do and the impact of those choices. Maybe it’s just me but I think as an author even negative reading experiences can be fascinating.

    Though it still sucks when it’s a book you really wanted to like.

  4. You hit everything I found at fault in the story. I did enjoy reading and put up with pacing because I was curious about how it would all end but the structure was weird. It seems that one story would start, stop, and another would pick up. And yes, I was hoping that someone would be in love with the person he/she is with. It didn’t ring true to me that Glisselda would be in love with Seraphina though I appreciated what Hartman was going for there. And I missed Orma too. 😥

    • Exactly, I enjoyed bits and pieces of it even though the pacing was weird, and I kept going because I thought the ending was going to be worth it all, but not so much. And you’re right, the thing with Glisselda really didn’t ring true.

  5. Oh my God, Amy, it’s like you read my mind. Everything you wrote on this post describes exactly the way the book, especially the ending, made me feel. I was so emotionally invested in both Seraphina and Shadow Scale that the ending of the series broke my heart into thousands of miserable pieces.

  6. I am so angry!!! Like there is this bubbling inside my chest and I jut really want to scream but I can’t!!! I am so tempted to f****** throw the book again and again and freaking AGAIN!!!! I mean, what the effff!!! This is a book!! A book!!! Where the f is my happy ending !!! A three way relationship!!?? Seriously?!!! SERIOUSLY!!????? I thought this was a YA book!!! WHHHHAAAAAAAT NOOOWWW!!?? I loved Seraphina! !!! I literally devoured it!!! But Shadow Scale?!! This is TERRIBLEEEEEEEEEEEE

  7. I read Seraphina last week and couldn’t wait to get the sequel in. I just now finished it and I agree with Everything you wrote. The ending was a let-down. Totally. There were so many bad things that happened to the characters that it was just kind of depressing to read it. It at least could have had a happy ending.

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