Summary from Goodreads:
In 1899, when an evil threatens all the humans and animals of the Blue Ridge Mountains, twelve-year-old Serafina, rat catcher for the Biltmore estate and the daughter of a shapeshifting mountain lion, must search deep inside herself and embrace the destiny that awaits her.
I ended up enjoying this one a lot more than I thought I would. For some reason, a lot of middle grade sequels lose me. They just usually aren’t as good as the first book. And at first, I felt this way here. The beginning had a lot of repetition and slowness that I just wasn’t feeling. I don’t get it. Some one who has not read the first book should absolutely not read this second one. Yet, the beginning was kind of written like the reader never read the first one…I hate when books do that.
Also, the beginning was kind of slow. I’m glad I kept going though, because when it picked up, it seriously picked up. All of the magic, the darkness, the characters, and the animals from book 1 were back in full force here. But, now there are even more interesting characters, worse evil, and new friendships. There were moments when my jaw dropped, listening to the suspense. There’s this scene in the forest with tons of animals locked up in cages, that has me creeped out still, just thinking about it.
Also, I love Serafina so much more now. She’s struggling to fit in with her newfound mother. She can’t learn to be what her mother tells her she is. And the more she hangs out with her best friend, the more she realizes she’s not that great at being human either. She’s learning table manners, and worrying about her state of her dress, which she never really did before. And all of this makes her so much more authentic to me. Yes, she has some extraordinary abilities, but also, she’s just a girl who wants to fit in. And I loved this side of the story.
I love the narrator too, and I hope she continues to voice the next book (which I think comes out next summer). When I think of Serafina, I hear her voice. Really, she does such justice to the gothic setting, the suspenseful scenes, and all the humorous moments. She’s an amazing reader.
All in all, this is the kind of book I hope all middle grade books to be like. The main character grows so much in this installment. The action is fantastic. The characters were great. And the setting carries the whole story. I give it a 9/10.