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Thursday, September 10
Serafina and the Black Cloak
My rating: ★★½
Date of publication: July 14, 2015
Age: Grades 4 - 7
Genre: Horror, Historical Fiction
Themes: identity, paranormality, friendship, family, Biltmore Estate, missing children
When children at the Biltmore 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 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.
While the story line was suspenseful and the tale rather creepy, the book felt too random and disjointed for me to fully enjoy it. There's the demonic nature of the cloaked man, and then the bleeding forest (were the leaves really bleeding? I'm still confused at the part). And then there's a catamount... There seemed to be too many things going on at once. The mystery of disappearing children, the mysterious identity of the cloaked man, the mysterious origin of Serafina...it was too much for me to create a fluid story.
As for the characters: Serafina, when we are first introduced to her, is hard for me to imagine—she's repeatedly referred to as strange in appearance and actions. I couldn't connect with her, but her "huntress" persona did drive the story along. Braeden seemed way too friendly to someone who is supposed to be strange and shunned by everyone else. He came off pretty flat, as the overly kind hero of the story.
I appreciated the look into the workings of the Biltmore Estate and the history of the area. I enjoyed the scary parts. Overall, I might recommend it to a certain few, especially those that enjoyed The Night Gardener (Jonathan Auxier) or Boys of Blur (N.D. Wilson).
Find it at your library or on Amazon