- Series: The Serafina Series
- Pages: 304
- Publisher: Egmont
- Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy, Supernatural, Historical Fiction
Serafina and the Black Cloak is a middle grade novel set in the 19th century that is filled with mystery and an air of gothic theme to it. It is, in my opinion, a novel that anyone of an age will be able to enjoy. It has been such a fascinating read, especially with the fact that it is set in a real setting – The Biltmore Estate.
Serafina lives in the basement of Biltmore along with her Pa – that itself raises questions as to how they have managed to live under the hustle and bustle of the Estate, and it makes you wonder how they have managed hiding for more than 12 years – right under the noses of the owners of the Estate. In addition to, Serafina has an uncanny talent for catching rats – given her position as Chief Rat Cather or C.R.C, a title given to her by her Pa – even though she must stay hidden from the other inhabitants of the house. Now, this is another mystery that you will have to find the answer to – why is her Pa so adamant of keeping Serafina hidden from the rest of the world? And why does he keep on insisting that she must not go into the forest? All of these questions keeps you on your toes and will make you want to turn the pages until you find your answers.
One night, as Serafina was out carrying out her job as C.R.C – she witnesses a young girl vanish into a Black Cloak after being pursued by a man who wore the cloak. She managed to escape the Man in the Black Cloak, and she tried telling her Pa what happened – but he did not believe her, after all, it was illogical to think a Cloak will absorb a child. But then, it is discovered that the young girl went missing, and everything became real for Serafina, and she knows then and there that she is the only one who can save her.
She then meets the young master of the house, Braeden, and tells him of what has happened – and this itself is a huge risk for Serafina as she must stay hidden, and the fact that she has caught the attention of the young master was risk enough to exposure and this could lead to her and her Pa being found out and expelled from the house. But, like any child, she wants to have a friend, to know what it feels like to play with other children her age.
Meanwhile, Serafina also has questions about her past. Who was her mother? Where did she come from? Why wasn’t she allowed into the forest, or even be seen by anyone? So she pressures her Pa to tell her her story, and this sets out to be one of the biggest mysteries of all time – because even her Pa doesn’t completely know where she came from.
What I really loved about this novel is that it keeps you from guessing what was going to happen next, you are given clues all throughout the novel, but you never treat them as such when you are engrossed with the story – you just want to know what was happening. I loved how Robert Beatty was able to keep the identity of the Man in the Black Cloak Hidden until he was revealed – how he kept me on second guessing my choices of who was behind the missing children. But what I was not counting on was Serafina’s origins. This shows how plot driven the story is – how it relies on what was going to happen next and what the end result was going to be, that the story flowed really well.
However, it is also very character driven – especially with characters such as Serafina, whom might as well be the very definition of stubbornness and determination. She is clearly so different, but she does not let this get into her system – she knows she is different and she utilises it to her own benefit, I love how she doesn’t completely care about how others might look at her and how accepting she is of who she really is.
All in all, Serafina and the Black cloak is a book full of mystery, action and has a very gothic feel to it – that it made me forget that it is actually a children’s novel!
However, there was one thing that I was dissatisfied about this novel – the way Serafina found out about who she really was *spoiler* and how her meeting with her mother felt like it was rushed and simply added as an afterthought was disappointing. It would have been better if there were more details added or that her identity was kept hidden until the next novel. *end spoiler* But, overall I was quite happy with how everything turned out!
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐