June 21, 2017
“Our character isn’t defined by the battles we win or lose, but by the battles we dare to fight.” – Robert Beatty, Serafina and the Black Cloak
Am I the only one who finds children terrifying?
I mean, come on! There are so many book series out there that involve children who are very capable of murder and destruction…it’s a bit unnerving, and yet it makes for very good literature. I was lucky enough to be sent the Serafina and the Black Cloak series by the lovely publisher and I have just finished book one. I am usually not one to read middle grade novels, apart from Riordan of course, but I am very glad I cracked this one open. The synopsis for book one is as followed:
FROM GOODREADS: 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.
Even though this story’s main character is a twelve year old, I found it to have the right amount of darkness and proved to have some frightful moments. Especially when it came to the descriptive language. Beatty has a talent for creating beautiful images through his writing. The imagery was perfect and even something as simple as describing a shooting star was pure poetry. The world that Beatty created around the Biltmore estate was the perfect definition of fantasy for me. Take a mundane idea such as a manor house and surround it with demons and dark mysteries and create a very straight forward adventure and I am sold!
The story takes place over a short period of time, but in that time we see the main character, Serafina, go through many changes and experience a lot of firsts. There are trials for the young heroine, along with moments of clarity that not only foreshadow the other two novels, but also answer some questions that are brought up early on in the novel. I think that a lot of people, kids especially, who feel as if they are too different are going to be able to relate to Serafina as well as Braeden, her new found best friend. This would be a story that I would read to my future children. It can sit right next to Percy Jackson and Harry Potter on the shelf!
The mythology of the book in very unique. At least, I haven’t read anything like it before. I liked that it kept you guessing and for most of the book the reader is getting to be a detective as well, trying to figure out the mystery. The villain of the novel was well thought out and it honestly reminded me of some of the old monster books I read as a child or even something that could have been in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, still not over that show to be honest… ANYWAYS, I absolutely loved the constant comparison between predator and prey throughout and I thought it was very smart to portray Serafina as both.
Beatty has created one of the most interesting main characters that I have read in awhile. Serafina has the strength and the heart of any hero, but also you can see the childish dreams she has and the vulnerability. The mystical part aside, this young girl is making a bit imprint on children’s literature and I think more and more kids should read this series. Well, everyone should read it and not just because the cover is absolutely gorgeous, but for the lovely words on the inside.
Overall I give this book a 4/5 star rating and I will continue to read this series. I am going to be starting book 2: Serafina and the Twisted Staff tomorrow or I suppose today as it is almost 2 am…whoops. I can’t sleep…as usual. Friendly reminder that book 3 of this series: Serafina and the Splintered Heart comes out July 3rd, so keep your eyes out for that and make sure you read the first two before you do!