Saturday, October 24, 2015

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

image from LibrayThing
Serafina hides and scurries and watches from the dark recesses of Biltmore house.  As the C.R.C (Chief Rat Catcher) of the estate she she stalks and destroys the mangy beasts from the deepest corners of the basement that she calls home.

It was on one of those evening rat chases that she comes across something completely different -something evil lurking in her domain.  A man wearing a black cloak attacking a young girl in a yellow dress. Serafina tries to save this girl, fighting desperately to help her escape - when the girl simply disappears in the folds of the cloak and the dark, putrid smelling cloaked man turns his attentions on Serafina.  She narrowly escapes with her life.

This encounter changes Serafina and her connections to her Pa and to the only home she has known.  She begins to question her Pa's wisdom of staying hidden in the darkness.  She longs to figure things out and that draws her upstairs into the edges and shadows of the rooms where the beautiful people live.  Here a chance encounter with Braeden Vanderbilt changes her entire future.

This book follows a girl's self-discovery journey.  There were things I really liked about this book and things I didn't.  I thought Serafina's inner dialogue was a bit stilted - not really the words of a young frightened girl.  And there were moments bogged down with description of the behind the scenes workings of a huge estate.  I felt at times that this Disney published book was trying to jump on the Downton Abby craze with American's own aristocracy.  But - it's an interesting story with twists that I didn't quite expect.  That makes it fun to read. I did care about Serafina and her quest to figure out who or what she is and what is happening to the disappearing children.

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