I don’t know why I don’t read more Middle Grades books. With the absence of romance and the drama that surrounds the attraction/relationship theme, these books are free from the constraints of delivering sparks and happy endings and concentrate on the story itself. Serafina and the Black Cloak certainly delivers a mystery and friendship and a back story that will suck you in.
The George Vanderbilts, of those Vanderbilts, left New York City and built the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Know as The Lady on the Hill, it has gatherings, balls, parties and a few secrets. In the basement, far from prying eyes, Serafina lives with her pa. The upstairs folks don’t know that every day, when pa stops working, he stays in the room in the basement where he and his daughter live quietly. Serafina has gotten very good at creeping around at night, and she knows all of the secret passageways of the house. She’s used to being invisible, but she still longs for a friend. It’s just her and her pa, and when she tries to talk about her mother or why she hasn’t any siblings, Pa clams right up.
One night while she is exploring, she witnesses the most horrible sight: a young girl, obviously from upstairs, is being chased by a foul man in a black cloak. And when she’s caught, the cloak seems to swallow her whole. Sensing her presence, the man then chases Sera, who just manages to elude him. How could she even begin to explain what she saw? Her pa would dismiss it as one of the yarns she likes to spin. But she knows what she saw!
The house is in an uproar the next morning, and that’s when she lets down her guard and is seen, by no less than Braeden Vanderbilt, nephew and ward of the family. Later, their paths cross again, and he is a witness to the Man in the Black Cloak taking yet another child. Serafina knows that the man aims to get Braeden next. She must watch over her new friend while solving the mysteries swirling around the cloaked man, the missing children, and why pa wants to keep her hidden.
What a wonderful mystery that feels so new! From the time period to the relationships to the mystery itself, there’s not a dull moment. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I hope there will be more. Oh, and the cover’s beautiful, too.
Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty was published today, July 14, 2015, by Disney Hyperion. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the Publisher, the Author and NetGalley.
Genre: Middle Grades Historical Fiction Fantasy Paranormal Mystery
Ages: Grades 5-7
COYER Scavenger Hunt #34: Read a book with the BLACK in the title. (3 points)