Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Serafina is True Middle Grade Horror

Premise: Serafina has always lived secretly in the basement of a mansion, warned by her father to never go outside where the dark forest waits. But then one night a wealthy child in the mansion goes missing, and Serafina is the only witness. As more children begin to disappear, she knows that she must follow the clues to save them.

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Length: 304 pages
Genre: Mystery, Horror, Fantasy
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Content appropriate for: Grades 4-7
Format: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Publication: July 14, 2015

Three adjectives that describe this book: dark, gripping, mysterious

Serafina and the Black Cloak was much scarier than I expected! It was engaging, complex, and made me question my reading-before-sleeping habit.

I found it really interesting how Beatty wove the actual history of the Biltmore Estate with fantasy and horror elements. At times I was caught off-guard when fantasy elements crept into the story. We'd be going along with fancy mansion-life and dank basement-life, and then BAM mythical creatures in the forest!

A scene from the book trailer with the Biltmore Estate in the background
For a book to be truly scary, you must have a scary villain. So how does the villain in Serafina measure up? He is definitely scary. And creepy. And strange. His skin seems to be falling off and he comes for you steadily in the dark. I was definitely creeped out by him.
Villain in a black cloak. From the author's website.

The only reason I docked a star for Serafina and the Black Cloak is because most of the reveals were kind of evident well ahead of being revealed. Hopefully, upper-middle-grade readers will find them to be more surprising.

Fast-paced and dark, this book will appeal to any MG reader who wants to be truly spooked and enjoys a good mystery.

Author Website

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