Shadow Scale: Seraphina, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Shadow Scale: Seraphina, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Quest for half-dragons grows in characters, complexity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Set in a credibly realized fantasy world, Shadow Scale is inventive in its language, in the way it names saints, and its presentation of dragon cultures. Seraphina and many other characters exhibit a deep love of music.

Positive Messages

Presents a quest for community, in which Seraphina searches for her fellow half-human/half-dragon hybrids. But, even as they have commonalities, each individual has distinguishing characteristics that must be addressed. As one character notes, "We are none of us just one thing."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Seraphina is incredibly empathetic and feels great connection to her fellow hybrids. She tends to take the blame for situations over which she has no control but eventually gains a more healthy perspective. She is loyal, brave, inquisitive, and resourceful.

Violence

Seraphina's friend is stabbed in the wrist, causing permanent damage. Under psychic attack, other friends experience great pain and mental anguish. Dragons fight and kill each other, and a giant injures humans, hybrids, and dragons alike. One character has his memory wiped. In general, any violence is presented without much graphic detail.

Sex

Humans and dragons are known to interbreed, but little is said about the mechanics of such mating. Seraphina's attracted to Prince Lucian, who's betrothed to someone else. They share a romantic embrace or two but pull apart before something unseemly happens. A royal marriage is arranged more for political reasons than for romance.

Language

The term "bastard" is used once or twice, as is the minor vulgarity "arse."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shadow Scale is a sequel to the acclaimed fantasy Seraphina, which won the 2013 William C. Morris Award for best debut book for teens. Its female protagonist is smart, resourceful, brave, and empathetic, and the novel promotes the value of learning to see more than one facet of a person. Strong language is infrequent ("bastard" and "arse"), and violence is depicted with restraint. Psychic attacks cause physical and mental anguish. A boy is stabbed in the wrist, an old man has his memories wiped, and various dragons are killed in aerial battles. None of these incidents is described with excessive detail. Dragons and humans are able to interbreed, but the details aren't discussed explicitly. Two young women share a kiss on the mouth, and Seraphina shares a passionate embrace or two with Prince Lucian.

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What's the story?

SHADOW SCALE picks up with Seraphina on a mission to locate the remaining dragon/human hybrids scattered across the land. Each has a unique look, interests, and powers, and some are reluctant to be identified. One in particular, Jannoula, has a twisted agenda of her own and uses her telepathic powers to take over the bodies and senses of her fellow half-dragons. A devastating civil war looms, unless Seraphina and her friends can find a way to break Jannoula's grip on them.

Is it any good?

Shadow Scale is a worthy successor to Seraphina, adding more to its mythology and introducing a new set of intriguing human-dragon hybrids. In particular, the introduction of a new villain, Jannoula, amps up the suspense. She proves to be a dangerous, clever, and formidable opponent. Seraphina's wish to protect and please everyone impedes the plot sometimes, but her empathy is an essential element of her personality and is part of what makes her such a compelling heroine. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the roles dragons play in mythology and popular culture. Why do these imaginary animals interest audiences?

  • How does Shadow Scale compare with Seraphina? Do you like it as much? What do you think will happen in the next installment?

  • What makes Seraphina a compelling heroine?

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