Thursday, September 8, 2016

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty and read by Cassandra Campbell

Summary from Goodreads:
“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 the Biltmore estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although 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 the 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, one 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.
Middlegrade books are really tightening up the competition with YA. Seriously, if all middlegrade books read like this one, I would not be reading as much YA as I do. This was fun and addicting. The magnificent narrator helped too. I need to see what other books she has narrated. I’m hoping she narrates the sequel.
I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. The one hard thing about my little summer vacation and having my mom up for two weeks, was having to take a major pause in my audio book listening. I missed Serafina and I wanted to know who the man with the black cloak was just as much as she did.
This had an almost classic fairytale type vibe. The forrest played this dark, menacing roll in the story. It also helped blur the lines between good and evil. Not everything in the forest is bad. The mansion made for a super exciting setting also. I loved how well Serafina knew the house, despite her only being to visit everything in secret. I felt like I was there, exploring it all wither her.
I also loved Serafina. She was strong, brave, and smart. She always seemed to figure out the problems before anyone else did. I loved that she respected the wishes of her father, but also knew when she had to be a little rebellious. I love that her sad story that her father eventually tells her, doesn’t destroy her. If anything, she becomes stronger from it. I loved her relationship with her father. Everything he risked for her seriously melted my heart in a way it hasn’t melted in a long time. I love her pa. I really do.
The mystery of the disappearing children, and the creepy black cloak also made this a story that was hard to stop listening to. I needed to know what was happening. I loved that the author wasn’t too afraid to have things happen to kids in this book. It was eerily dark.
Yet at the same time, the one thing I was not a big fan of was the ending. It was too good, too fluffy, and too happy for me. I get that this is a children’s book. But, still. The other excellent Middle grade book I read recently ended with the death of a great character. This ending just didn’t sit well with me. It didn’t fit with the rest of the book’s darkness and gothic atmosphere. Though, I’m happy for Serafina. She certainly deserves all the answers and solutions she received. I just wish getting all that fit better with the dark story. I still give this book a 9/10. I ate it up. I can’t wait to get started on book 2.

1 comment:

  1. Mature MG can often be more satisfying for me than YA. YA can get too hung up on romances and lose focus on the plot. I mean, I enjoy romances but the plot needs to deliver even more so. MG often has nice life-lessons and they're just plain fun! I hope you know I'll be adding this one to my tbr shelf now :D GREAT review^^