Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Published July 14th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
A spooky mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.
"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 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 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 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.
This amazingly charming story is the epitome of why I love to read Middle Grade books in the first place. There is something so light and enjoyable about them, even those this was quite a bit more chilling than most I have read. Serafina and her father are hiding out on the basement of the illustrious Biltmore Estates. You thought your job was bad? Try being a rat catcher! That is how Seraphina eeks out her existence. Thier secret life is soon discover and story begins to take shape.
Many mysteries were being followed at once. Well, okay it's really only about the man in the cloak and Serafina's mother. The ever elusive clues gave nothing away so I was pleasantly surprised when things finally clicked into place.The spattering of supernatural elements were the perfect touch.
The characters were a bit of a toss up for me. There was a ton I love about our M.C. Serafina, but she also was a bit immature at times. I get it though...MG. Biltmore Estates itself felt like character all its own. The painstaking detail that were poured into the descriptions made the house practically jump to life. It made seeing it through Serafina's eyes all the more amazing. I seriously wish there was some secret passages in my house! I would explore them all....maybe.
If you are a fan of middle grade that is a bit darker than most than this book will surely suit you. I felt it was a perfect concoction of mystery, beautiful settings, and haunting plot lines. Let's just say i will not being going into ANY woods for quite a while.