I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I had started to hear wonderful things about Serafina and the Black Cloak, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read it. This middle grade novel was written by Robert Beatty.
Serafina lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate with her father, who works as a mechanic. No one knows they live there, and no one knows that Serafina even exists. She is supposed to stay hidden, but she cannot resist sneaking around at night. Serafina takes pride in her “role” as chief rat catcher, but one night, she sees something utterly terrifying in the vast basement of the estate. She sees a man in a black cloak chase down a little girl, and make her disappear.
Serafina is spotted, and narrowly escapes with her life. She tells her father about what she has seen, but her father scolds her and tells her that she has been dreaming. He warns her about the dangers of being spotted- no one knows she exists- and he would be fired if they were discovered living in the basement.
As the search for the missing girl intensifies, Serafina knows that what she saw was real, and not just her imagination running wild. She strikes up a friendship with young Braeden Vanderbilt. She has never had a friend before, but she has read about them in books. Working together, the two children are determined to stop the mysterious man in the black cloak before he claims more victims.
I loved everything about this book. Serafina is such a delightful little protagonist; she is strong, and brave, and resourceful. Her first encounter with the man in the black cloak provide her with not only with the determination to find out who is but also the motivation to find out who she is and why she and her father have to live secretly in the basement.
Robert Beatty is a talented author. His love for the Biltmore estate is reflected on every page; the possibility of ghosts in the historic home has been explored before, but Serafina and the Black Cloak provides us with an original look at terrifying creatures that come out at night. Suspense builds over the course of the book, and while the mystery might be solved rather quickly by a savvy reader, but that doesn’t make it any less scary! There were scenes where I found myself legitimately scared!
I would absolutely recommend Serafina and the Black Cloak. This book is considered a middle grade novel, but it holds appeal for the young adult audience and adult readers as well. The book might be scary for some readers; I know that my oldest daughter (age 8) would be too frightened. There is no graphic content; the scariness is mostly atmospheric. I would compare the scariness level to Auxier’s The Night Gardener. I will definitely be picking up a copy of this book for our family when it is released.