“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
We have chosen Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty as our tweens-teens’ book club selection for August. We first featured this book on our Facebook and twitter pages as one of our must-read summer picks and as a possible book club selection. Our initial attraction to the book was influenced by the fact that its setting, Biltmore Estate, happens to be one of our favorite summer attractions. Our fascination grew after viewing the book trailer. Ultimately, our overall decision became set in stone after meeting the author at a local book signing event. The kids were particularly excited to meet and interact with him and the characters of the book; while the parents were highly impressed by his patience and willingness to sign all the books, take photos, and answer questions. What a great experience that was! But that’s a whole other blog post.
The book was released July 14, 2015 and immediately became a New York Times Bestseller. We bought several copies and our teens immediately dug in. The book is intriguing and addictive. This is a book that can easily suck you in and have you lose track of time because the storyline is extremely captivating. We are still reading and discussing the book, and are inviting you to join us. Until everyone finishes, this is where we are so far:
Twelve-year-old Serafina lives with her pa in the basement of the Biltmore Estate that he helped construct. Her pa spends most of his time performing maintenance duties at the estate while Serafina spends most of her time secretly exploring the estate. She is forbidden from venturing into the forest because “there are dark forces there that no one understands, things that ain’t natural and can do ya wicked harm.” She is restricted from interacting with dwellers and guests of the estate in order to avoid being noticed. She is also discouraged from inquiring about her past, all for reasons unknown to readers thus far.
Life, as usual as possible, for Serafina would soon take an unusual turn as she witnesses a man wearing a black cloak chasing and soon snatching a little girl. Serafina tries to save the girl but is unable to as the cloak consumes the girl. Serafina then resumes fleeing for her life, as the man in the black cloak chases after her. She is able seek refuge in one of her many secret hiding places. Nonetheless, this is just the beginning of this unusual and terrifying encounter. We can’t wait to see how this all turns out. Hope you’ll join us in reading this book. As always, we love hearing your thoughts on books. You may leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are currently reading.
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and oppulent 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 prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of 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, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but delve into the strange mystery of her own identity.
By Dawn Hoff, Book Kids