Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Series: Serafina #1
Published by Listening Library on July 14, 2015
Source: Library
Genres: Middle School, Fantasy, Historical Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 39 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in her grand home, but 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 lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to sneak and hide.

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.

Isn’t that cover great?

I don’t read many middle school books, but I have to thank whoever wrote the review that made me put Serafina and the Black Cloak on my to-read list. I really enjoyed it. Serafina herself is a charming twelve-year old. She has an odd life, hiding in the basement of the Biltmore Estate where her pa works, but she’s adorable and brave and smart. And not quite human, but part of this first story is her discovery of who she is. The narrator does an excellent job, giving Serafina a perfect accent and a very expressive voice, showing her pride, curiosity and fears well. I love Serafina’s pa, too. He’s not a huge part of the actual plot, but he’s a strong, caring man, doing the best he can in an unusual situation.

There aren’t really any surprises in the story, we see most things coming well before they’re revealed, but it’s a middle school book, so I’m not sure if a 10-year-old would or not. Either way it’s a delightful book, part fantasy, part mystery, just scary enough to keep you reading. The characters are wonderful, especially the kids.  If Amber were younger, I would definitely suggest she read this one. It’s about true friendship and family love and respecting each other’s differences. And it’s fun.

The end is a bit cheesy, but it’s a middle school book, and honestly, it made me smile. It’s a happy ending, obviously.

Now I want to visit Biltmore.

About Robert Beatty

Robert Beatty lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters, who help create and refine his stories. He loves to explore the grand Biltmore Estate and the darkened forest trails where his novels take place. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, Robert was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative Magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year.

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