Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Publisher: Disney Hyperion (2015)
Serafina is growing up in the bowls of Biltmore estate. Her father is the mechanic for the boiler room and Serafina traps and kills rats. Except that she isn’t to be seen by anybody who lives in the house; furthermore, she is never ever to go into the dark forest surrounding the estate. But when the children visiting the estate start disappearing, Serafina knows she is the only one who can save them from the mysterious man in a black cloak, even if it means revealing who she truly is.
What I Think:
I first saw this book in North Carolina of all places being sold in a gift shop at a Blue Ridge Parkway visitors’ center. I didn’t buy it at the time but I was instantly intrigued, considering it was told from a servants’ perspective during the last year of the 19th century at the Biltmore estate. I thought it’d be a traditional mystery; with a young girl try to find the culprit of the missing children. Needless to say, there is a lot of magic and fantastical elements to the story than what I thought originally. However, I enjoyed the little elements that made it feel that much more cozy. There is a satisfying villain, a lioness who is more than what meets the eye, and a nephew of the Vanderbilts who becomes a close friend and ally.
This book is targeted for pre-teens and children, however I feel that these books could be for 5th through 8th graders, maybe even older as there are some elements that could be potentially scary for younger readers. It just depends on the child, of course (I definitely read older when I was young.)
I’d definitely be interested in reading more of the books in the series in the future.