Series: Serafina #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 14th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, General, Horror, Mysteries & Detective Stories
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
"Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul."
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.
“Our character isn’t defined by the battles we win or lose, but by the battles we dare to fight.”
When our school hosted a Scholastic Book Fair, I decided to help out by making a purchase. What I bought was Serafina and the Black Cloak and its sequel. I had seen this book around but never checked it out. Yet, when I read the synopsis on the back of the book it sounded really interesting. This story was pretty well-written, the characters were multi-dimensional, and the steady pace kept me invested from beginning to end.
In the story, Serafina is a young girl whose father hides her in the basement of the Biltmore Estate where he works. Serafina has spent her life hidden away down there, and now that she’s gotten older she’s beginning to question why. That’s when a terrifying man in a black cloak arrives and the children begin to disappear. Serafina knows what’s become of the children, but unfortunately, her father doesn’t believe her. Though she’s always obeyed her father in the past, Serafina must defy him and solve the mystery of this mysterious man and the abducted children. With the help of Braeden Vanderbilt, Serafina sets out to do just that before time runs out.
“Did evil creatures think of themselves as evil? Or did they think they were doing what was right? Was evil something that was in your heart or was it how people viewed you?”
I really enjoyed the way author Robert Beatty intermingled fiction and history to bring a suspenseful story. The portrayal of the man in the black cloak was a bit terrifying, and Serafina was a charmingly complex protagonist. While the Vanderbilt family is real, their nephew Braeden is completely fictional. However, I found that he was also a very interesting character that seamlessly fit in with the actual historical characters in the story. Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the character of the sprawling mansion – Biltmore Estate. This home made the perfect setting for this tale, and I would love to learn more about this place.
Beatty did a great job of leaving the reader to wonder about the nature of evil. The forest that surrounds the estate is a magical place with both wonderful and terrifying things inside. As the story unfolds, we get a glimpse at Serafina’s past, and why her father keeps her a secret. This adds another layer to the story that kept me invested. If you are looking for a bit of a light mystery, then this may be worth checking out.