Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review: "Serafina and the Black Cloak" by Robert Beatty

It is 1899, and 12 year old Serafina secretly lives in the basement of the enormous Biltmore Estate with her father, the handyman.  Serafina is careful to not be seen by any of the Vanderbilts or their guests so as to not get her father in trouble.  But then the children of the guests start to disappear one by one in the night.  Serafina sees a Man in a Black Cloak take one girl, and as much as she tries to fight him off - she can't save her.  As she tries to investigate, she gains an unlikely ally even as the danger surrounding her increases.  Will she be the Man in the Black Cloak's next victim?  Will she lose her first friend?

I read this book at my son's request.  I had brought him to an event which included this author as a panelist, and my son was curious about these books but was nervous that they would be too scary for him.  So I gladly agreed to read it first.

It is quite a story, and it does get pretty creepy.  Serafina has grown up very isolated and really craves friendship.  She loves her pa, but misses the mother she never knew.  Through the scary event of watching another little girl her age be taken by a monstrous man, she grows bolder as she tries to save her.  She knows inherently that fighting back is the right thing to do.  And it does get pretty creepy.  There is an entire sequence in the dark forest that is especially unsettling.  But as I told my son, it isn't anything he can't handle.  The ending wraps up a little too quickly and perfectly, which is good in a middle grade novel but there is room to expand in the sequel.  I'm curious to see where that one goes!

*****
Serafina and the Black Cloak
by Robert Beatty
Disney-Hyperion, 2015
293 pages
Series:  Serafina #1
Source:  Library
*****

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