From School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—A mystery set at a sumptuous estate, featuring a courageous female protagonist entangled in a hair-raising adventure. It is 1899 and 12-year-old Serafina lives with her Pa in the basement of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Pa had come to Asheville years ago to help with construction and stayed on as a fixer of all things mechanical in the 250-room mansion. For reasons unknown to Serafina, they must keep their nightly lodgings in the basement a secret as well as the existence of Serafina herself. She has developed catlike skills in exploring the vast Biltmore estate and enjoys sneaking through heating vents and other small spaces in order to eavesdrop on staff and inhabitants. Her quiet existence is shattered when she witnesses a strange man dragging a tearful young girl down into the bowels of the vast home. The man is wearing a large black cloak and reassures the young girl that everything is okay. Suddenly, the captive struggles to get away from the man and his cloak appears to come alive. It wraps itself around the terrified child as she calls out for help. Serafina is frozen with fear and before she can react, the girl has vanished. Serafina escapes, thanks to her agility, and discovers the next day that a visitor of the Vanderbilts by the name of Clara has disappeared during the night. More children disappear and it becomes increasingly obvious that Serafina's new best friend, Braeden, is the man in the black cloak's newest target. The story drips with suspense, wrapping readers into the narrative just as easily as the man in the black cloak binds his young victims. Serafina's friendship with Braeden is heartfelt and believable. The ending is tied up too neatly, but that's a minor quibble; most horror and mystery fans will enjoy this book. VERDICT A creepy, suspenseful read that's not quite as dark as the works of Neil Gaiman or Adam Gidwitz.—Julie Shatterly, W. A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC
"Beatty spins an enchanting mystery through lonely Serafina's golden eyes."
"Each new clue adds another brush stroke to this keenly perceptive portrait of a young girl searching for answers about herself and the world around her."
"The book leaves readers satisfied with the plot but hungry for more about its unusual heroine."
"Adults and children will eagerly follow Serafina ... into a world of self-discovery, justice, and new friendships."
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (SLJ 06/01/2015):
"A mystery set at a sumptuous estate, featuring a courageous female protagonist entangled in a hair-raising adventure."
"The story drips with suspense, wrapping readers into the narrative just as easily as the man in the black cloak binds his young victims. Serafina's friendship with Braeden is heartfelt and believable."
"...mystery fans will enjoy this book."
VERDICT A creepy, suspenseful read that's not quite as dark as the works of Neil Gaiman or Adam Gidwitz.
--School Library Journal (SLJ) Julie Shatterly, W. A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC
HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY:
"Serafina narrates with an engaging voice that draws the reader into her world."
"The setting is just as engaging: the Biltmore drips with opulence..."
"Serafina and the Black Cloak is one of my favorite books I have ever read."
Voted #1 Middle Grade Novel of 2015
Goodreads Review Average: 4.7 Stars
"A mysterious and captivating read..."
"A page-turner that I read in two days."
"A riveting mixture of historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery."
"Fast-paced, suspenseful, and written with beautiful imagery."
"Sure to be a hit with my students!"