“Serafina and the Black Cloak” by Robert Beatty

3 Stars

“I’ve told ya before, and I’ll tell ya again, Sera: our world is filled with many mysteries, things we don’t understand. Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, both dark and bright, and they will ensnare your soul.”

forest

Serafina is a 12 year old girl who lives in the Vanderbilt mansion, called the Biltmore Estate, with her pa. Well, they don’t exactly live there properly. They secretly live in the basement and no one knows she exists. Her pa is the maintenance man and never really told her about where she came from or who her mother was, until a man in a black cloak comes and children start disappearing.

So this is probably not exactly “Young Adult,” and more geared towards older kids/younger teens, but it’s a solid fantasy tale about an unusual girl who is more than she appears, and who ends up saving the day (of course). I liked Serafina. Even though she didn’t really know anything about herself, she was strong, and still followed her instincts. At first I was annoyed with her dad, but I ended up understanding why he did what he did (and besides, this is for a younger crowd, so you have to kind of not analyze things too much). For example, and I don’t think this a spoiler, but Serafina only wore large man-shirts tied at the waist with an old rope or belt, and for an adult, it’s like, come on, she could have gotten some hand-me-downs no matter how poor they were. But, it makes for a certain charm, and adds to who Serafina is. She cares more about catching rats than what she is wearing, and her pa is too busy fixing machines in the Vanderbilt’s basement.

I could emotionally relate to the idea that some people resonate more with animals and nature than other people, and Serafina meets a kindred spirit who is like her in that respect. This isn’t a complicated book, but it’s cute and well-written for its target audience.

Review also found at Goodreads

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