Monday, July 13, 2015

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty, Book Review

General Information
Genre Children's Fiction/Historical Fiction
Publish: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Disney Book Group, Disney-Hyperion

Book Summary (Per NetGalley)
Ages 8-12
"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 the 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 the 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.


My Thoughts:
I heard about this book and I knew I wanted to read it because it is set in Asheville, NC at The Biltmore Estate.  As a North Carolinian I love to find and support other North Carolinian artists, shops, products, etc.  The fact that this story ended up being fantastic was icing on the cake!

This book is set for ages 8-12...well I think it could be just 8 and up because I loved this book!  Once I picked it up I flew through the story because I was ensnared by the events!  This story takes place when the Biltmore estate was just built, talks a wee bit about the historical nature of the place, time and society, but also has an action adventure where children start disappearing and no one but Seraphina knows where to look or what to do. The catch is, at the beginning of the book no one even knows Seraphina exists except her Pa!

 A child who is a rat catcher, living in the basement of Biltmore, who was the man in cloak, was it a man, how was the nephew different, is a creature of the night bad, and more questions kept me captivated from cover to cover.  I think people of all ages will enjoy the question and thoughts behind Serafina pondering what is a friend, what do friends do, can this be a real friendship, etc.  I enjoyed the thriller/horror component of the cloak, especially at the end.  I felt it had a bit of the Harry Potter idea of evil in an object with an interesting twist after the final battle (I did not think of HP until the very end when the cloak "spoke")!

This story was well written and I enjoyed the flow of the author's style.  I had no problems reading the story or following the characters train of thoughts, actions or goals.  My one hmm is that I wanted a bit more out of the ending (maybe we have a sequel in the works?)  I don't want to give spoilers away, but the ending left me wondering how is the basement really going to work now, what about the discoveries of the graveyard and forest, what lessons will she learn going forward from (spoiler)...I want to know!! 


Below is the book trailer (I love how they depicted the visual characteristics of Serafina, thought what I took out of the book was more a wondering of how the bones looked. Loved the eyes!)

If you like historical fiction, children's fiction or just a quick and fun read I strongly encourage you to try this book! It will be on my July favorites because I can't get the story or my hope for more adventures with Serafina out of my mind!

Important Links
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Links to Purchase Books
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Disclaimer:  I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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