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Serafina and the Twisted Staff (Serafina Book 2) Hardcover – July 12, 2016
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Serafina's tale picks up just three weeks after the defeat of "the man in the black cloak." Serafina would like to settle into a comfortable existence at Biltmore House as Chief Rat Catcher, especially now that the Vanderbilts have accepted her role in their household. She wants to please her father and spend time with her best friend, Braeden. Her plans are thwarted when Lady Rowena Fox-Pemberton visits the estate. Serafina cannot stand Rowena's snooty ways but is pleasantly surprised when the Lady bravely helps out when mysterious events recur at Biltmore. Many new characters are introduced, such as Mr. Grathan, a guest of Mr. Vanderbilt claiming to be a detective, and Essie, a helpful maid. Serafina's backstory is fleshed out, and readers will relish learning more about her strange origins, including the identity of her father. As in the first novel, the narrative gracefully blends the majestic history of Biltmore House with the ethereal beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains along with the deep-rooted superstition of mountain lore. Serafina's relationship with her catamount mother plays a stronger role this time. The characterization is solid, and the powerful imagery that made the first installment such a success is more consistent here. Readers who enjoyed the first novel will not be disappointed in this continuation and will anxiously await the next exciting adventure. VERDICT Eerie gothic imagery, a ferociously scrappy heroine, and an elegant setting combine seamlessly to create a captivating mystery that will be well received by fans.—Julie Shatterly, W.A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC
GEEKDAD - Review from Andrew Terranova
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I decided to visit Ashville North Carolina. I did not visit the Biltmore but I was reading The Black Cloack. The description of the mountains and the forrest was exactly as described in the book. Looking out the window of the car I could picture Serafina running through the forrest. I was totally emersed in the two books and can't wait for the next book. We should all be bold.
The puzzles are yet more daunting, and all players may not truly be what they appear or represent themselves to be. But, along with several crucial life lessons, they learn that the deepest darkness is best met by all friends and neighbors finding uncommon spirit to weld them into a powerful weapon to follow the lead of the most fiercely loyal and courageous in common cause against defeating the most vile forces which threaten one and all.
And, as before, the resolution is all at once meaningful, insightful, and soul-warming... even as storm clouds appear once again upon the horizon...
But an awful series of events sends Serafina fleeing into the forest where she discovers that things are even worse than she thought. Only by finding a way to harness her own abilities and rallying her friends to her side can she find a way to defeat the evil that seeks to take over the whole region. The strange behavior of the animals complicates things as does the arrival of a Detective seeking to investigate the disappearance of Mr. Thorne (see book 1).
I found the book compelling and fascinating with lots of twists and turns, especially at the end. This is the sort of book that I love to hand to children who like scary/suspenseful stories that are well told and don't follow overdone tropes. The underlying themes of the choices people make, and finding oneś way to peace within and well done and not overly preachy at all. Serafinaś efforts to protect the people and places she loves shines through loud and clear, but her struggles with fear and shame feel very real. A great sequel that I will hand to students with great pleasure.