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!)
*** SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT ***
The 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.) At least sink my ship in a blaze of glory.