Author: Robert Beatty
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for this ARC!
To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I requested Serafina and the Black Cloak. I figured it would be a much darker middle grade novel, except it was a lot darker than I originally anticipated. This novel is dark, on par with The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls in terms of eerie quality, and yet I found myself quite glued to this story.
Serafina is a young girl who never disobeys her father, but when children start to go missing at the Biltmore estate, she takes it upon herself to find them. What I loved about the novel is the way in which Beatty blends genres — the book feels like it embodies fantasy, adventure, mystery, thriller, and it does it all so seamlessly throughout the story. But seriously, there’s some creepy and dark moments in this book that made me go “Wow, this is middle grade?!” (In a good way, I swear!)
I also really enjoyed the relationship between Braeden and Serafina. It wasn’t like they instantly trusted each other or liked each other’s company, but I adored how their friendship grows in the novel. It’s quite magical! I mean, the ‘villain’ in this story was a little predictable, but I appreciated how Beatty wraps up the story, uncovers the mystery behind Serafina’s mother, and essentially does a great job of having the story come together in a very meaningful way.
Serafina and the Black Coat is a book that will keep you guessing, and is a thrilling ride from start to finish. It’s a great adventure story with two very wonderful and strong willed protagonists, and it offers such variety in its approach to genre. The writing is lovely, Serafina’s world is vivid, and it’s just a fun and engaging read that will remind you that middle grade can be a bit edgy too.