robert beatty‘s (2015) debut novel serafina and the black cloak (disney hyperion) is a good fall read. readers are introduced to serafina, who is on a quest to solve the mystery regarding the disappearance of several children at the hands of a man in a black cloak. in fine list fashion, i am going to tell you four reasons i very much enjoyed this book.
(1) its setting – set at the wonderfully majestic biltmore estate near asheville, north carolina, serafina and the black cloak made me reminisce about the times my husband and i have visited the nineteenth-century estate. beatty’s writing captures the immense grandeur and mystery of the estate and its grounds. his description of place is right on! those who have visited the biltmore will be able to immediately transplant themselves back to the estate. and those who have not visited the estate will feel like they have after reading beatty’s book.
(2) it features a strong female protagonist – beatty’s serafina is a wonderfully mysterious character. part-human and part-creature-of-the-night, serafina struggles with issues of identity. a girl who lives secretly in the biltmore’s basement with her father, serafina is determined to use her human and non-human qualities to solve the mystery of the recent disappearances of several children.
(3) it’s about an unlikely friendship – how the rat-catching serafina is able to befriend the vanderbilts’ nephew braeden is one of the beautiful aspects of the book. both struggling with different personal pain, they forge a friendship that transcends class boundaries.
(4) and, of course, it’s scary – even though serafina and the black cloak is a middle grades read, i found myself truly wondering who wore the black cloak and how serafina would save herself and the other children around biltmore. i also am not particularly drawn to horror books, but this one kept my attention!
here is a great book trailer for serafina and black cloak to share with your children or students:
would love to hear what you think of serafina and the black cloak in the comments below!