Release Date: July 14, 2015
Synopsis ~ “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 the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but 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 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 the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest she’s been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic 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.
Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1JVlMOq
I don’t read a lot of Middle School age fiction, but there was something about the cover of this book that caught my eye. When I watched the book trailer I was completely hooked.
Serafina and the Black Cloak takes place in the late 1800s and is set in Ashville, North Carolina. What makes this beautiful and remote setting even more interesting is that it actually exists. You can explore Biltmore House and it’s history by visiting: http://www.biltmore.com
Being extremely poor, Serafina and her “Pa” have no choice but to live in the basement of Biltmore, unbeknownst to the residents of this vast estate. Serafina is definitely not your average child. Not being able to interact with the other children who visit and live on the estate has turned her into a bit of a wild child. She amuses herself by roaming the hallways at night and catching rats. It’s during one of these nocturnal adventures that she stumbles across the Man in the Black Cloak as he corners a terrified child and makes her disappear. Swift-footed Serafina is able to escape his clutches, but she’s determined to find out who this villain is. Much to her surprise, she finally uncovers the mystery of her origins, which her protective father has always kept hidden from her.
Serafina is the type of fictional character I wish I had known when I was twelve. Despite her lack of formal education, Serafina is smart and fearless. She also will do anything to rescue the missing children, even if it puts her own life in danger. She’s funny and astute, and her observations on her surroundings and the other residents of Biltmore are perfect. The story is told from her perspective and being told in her charming dialect makes it that much more entertaining.
Braeden is the perfect partner for Serafina. An orphan, he’s had to grow up rather quickly and at times seems wise beyond his years. He’s as courageous as Serafina, yet his wisdom helps temper her impulsiveness. I had the sense while I was reading that these were two lost souls destined to find one another.
The identity of the villain isn’t a huge surprise, but nevertheless the build-up to his unmasking is still exciting. Even while suspecting him I found myself fervently hoping I was wrong, because I actually liked him.
Except for a slightly slow start, Seraphina and the Black Cloak is exciting and full of twists and turns. It’s an imaginative and spooky tale that should have wide appeal for tweens and those of us who haven’t let go of their inner child. While the ending pretty much wraps everything up I have a feeling there will be more books detailing further adventures of young Serafina and Braeden. And, since this is being published by Disney, I also wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if this wound up being turned into a movie.