Published by Disney-Hyperion, Listening Library on July 14, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade & Childrens
Length: 8 hours, 40 minutes
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
This New York Times Bestseller is a spooky mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.
"Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul."
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast 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 secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who 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. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.
This book was so much fun! Serafina and the Black Cloak was a delightful little paranormal/adventure mystery. It walked that perfect edge of spooky and creepy yet still able to be a delight for middle grade readers.
Serafina lives in the basement of Biltmore with her father the mechanic. He keeps her hidden from the rest of the house such that no one is supposed to know she exists. He’s not a bad father like that might make you think. It’s just that Serafina doesn’t look like your typical little girl. She doesn’t look vastly different mind you just a few little quirks. I think they made her sound adorable. The way her behavior and personality shone through really reminded me of a cat. I’m sure other readers will agree.
When children start disappearing every night and Serafina witnessed the abduction of one and the creature who did it she is determined to get to the bottom of things. She isn’t alone in her search though and this becomes not just a story about her searching for a criminal or even really coming to know herself but also one of friendship. I loved all the different little elements woven into this story that made it at every turn richer for me and a story I know I’ll enjoy reading to my little ones.
Thoughts on the narration
An excellent job! Cassandra Campbell really pumped her narration full of personality. Her voice paints the scenery in your mind and you can see little Serafina sneaking through air ducts and down hallways, keeping to shadows and catching her rats. She also did a superb job with the other character voices. That of the very nasty black cloak and I loved the voice of Braeden.
I highly recommend this audio for middle grade readers as well as those folks or parents that enjoy a quick easy MG read from time to time.