Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty is a new historical fantasy children's fiction novel set in the famous Biltmore Estate, home of the Vanderbilts in Asheville, NC. Just the setting will get a history and fiction buff like myself interested.
Even though I'm no longer a child, I'm still a fan of children and teen books. The amount of creativity in this genre of books always puts a smile on my face and boggles my mind. How do they come up with this??? Serafina and the Black Cloak does just that. I wasn't sure what to make of this when I read the description. As I start reading it, I was pulled into the mystery of Serafina and who (or rather what) she is. She kept saying she's not like other little girls or "normal". And then the circumstances of how she came to Biltmore. Well, all that was a mystery in itself. Then, the true mystery of the novel came to light. Little children are missing throughout the estate. The mystery brings her to Braedon Vanderbilt, the young nephew of the owners of Biltmore and together they search for answers and the identity of the man in the big black cloak.
This novel is an interesting read. Mystery and history combined gives reader a sense of possibility and isn't that what children's fictions about? Having purpose and open a world of possibilities? With that sense, Mr. Beatty did a great job. There were a good number of twists and turns which I was intrigue throughout. However, I did find it "wind-y" a bit, and a little draggy in the middle. Possibly too much turns? As to the ending, you do get most of the answers you developed throughout the novel. I can see this as a wonderful start of a series, but not a continuous series, but rather each can stand on its own, almost like Nancy Drew. However, as a first of the series, this will be great background info into Serafina, her pa, and Braedon. Check it out, and you and your child will not be disappointed. However, I would recommend older kids, at least 10 since some areas can be quite spooky.
NOTE: I received a complimentary e-copy of the final draft from the publisher, Disney-Hyperion for an honest review.