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Serafina and the Black Cloak

 
 
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Pros


The author has created a genius technique blending a story of a lonely girl and a dangerous man with the real Biltmore Estate property and history. I could ‘feel’ the atmosphere of the time, area and actions due to a well written manuscript.

Cons


None.


Bottom Line

really hope that Beatty is going to fill more pages with adventures for Serafina. His well woven threads of mystery, the fantastic, suspense and heart touching story has captured my attention and I can imagine so much more.

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Posted October 27, 2015 by

 
Full Review
 
 

“Never go into 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 Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and oppulent 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 lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak 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, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but delve into the strange mystery of her own identity.

 

I have to say right away, I love this book. I was intrigued by the description but had no assumption about what it would be like. It’s just excellent. That’s all there is to it. I don’t think I’ve read any of the author’s work but after soaking in this story I have to say that I think he is a genius. In today’s world where we have fear and doubt about ourselves as children this is a great story to focus on these things but from a characters point of view. We see the world she lives in through her large, amber colored eyes. She knows she is different. Twelve-year-old Serafina is every child that ever felt alone with her differences yet stayed loyal to the parent or adult in her world who was giving everything to keep her fed and safe. Serafina is me, she is you. She is wildly intelligent and curious. She aches for more and she seeks it out. She also feels the need to be needed and has assumed a job as she lives in the shadows. She is the C.R.C. of Biltmore Estate. Chief Rat Catcher.

I love the background of the Biltmore Estate. Another stroke of genius in my mind. Here is a place that is in itself a fantasy castle from the past. We can only imagine what it must have been like to live there in the 1800’s. Serafina does live there, but, in a way she exists nearly alone in the inner workings of the buildings and its’ people. The real workers that kept the place going. She also touches the lives, just on the very lace edge of the wealthy dwellers. What a concept for a story about a marvelous and heart-wrenching character.

I would have loved the book as a kid. If a teacher had read it to the class I would have been reenacting it on the playground. Sadly, I know that there would have been a parent or two who would have protested as they did when my son’s teacher was reading a certain H. Potter book to his class. This is a book that may be frowned upon by those who don’t agree with children reading about fantasy or almost-mystical creatures. I don’t want to give anything away and ruin a major revelation of the story. From the start it is obvious that Serafina is different and she knew she wasn’t normal looking.

In the end, to me this is a book that celebrates difference. It also touches on the need for healthy fantasy that rescues a child from the raw reality of life. Serafina learns to embrace who she really is and finds strength and independence in the journey. She also learns that a friend is a valuable treasure. I have to say I love Braedon Biltmore’s character. He sees people for their worth. Oh, there is so much I could say. Serafina’s father is another mysterious rare gem of a man.

Adults, I recommend that you read the book to see if you feel it is appropriate for the child reader in your lives. One thing I can loosely associate it with is a series of books and a television show that was popular years ago and that is Animorphs. It is far from that storyline but does bring a little of the idea to my mind. Fairy tales in which a person may be held in another dimension as an object or creature is a comparison I’d also make. The Borrowers and The Littles, two more series that I loved as a kid bring a hint of the same ‘flavor’ as this book does. I pitied the waif, Serafina, in the beginning. I was soon fascinated and wanting to discover her secrets, especially the one she doesn’t even know. There is a dangerous mystery also taking place at the Biltmore and her curious nature about the creepy cloak and the man who wears it carries the story along. A child that has fears about missing children and strangers may find the story scary. I got to see glimpses of that grand estate with fascinating tidbits of history interspersed throughout the conflict with this awful cape wearing man.

I really hope that Beatty is going to fill more pages with adventures for Serafina. His well woven threads of mystery, the fantastic, suspense and heart touching story has captured my attention and I can imagine so much more. I would have eaten this book up as a child, and, because I’m this ‘old’ adult who loves a good story, I plan to read it again. My heart will pound, a tear may escape and I’ll smile all over again.


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