Author: Robert Beatty
Publication: Disney Hyperion (July 14, 2015)
Description: "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 her grand home, although 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, one 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.
My Thoughts: Serafina has grown up in the basements of the Biltmore Estate where her father is a maintenance man. It is a secret the Serafina and her Pa live there. Serafina has learned to live there without being spotted by any of the other people on the estate. She knows the hiding places and the secret ways. She has appointed herself the Chief Rat Catcher and she is able to use her hunting skills to find and catch them. She can see in the dark and move without sound.
One night, while prowling the basements, she sees a man in a black cloak who is chasing after a girl in a yellow dress. When he catches her, he wraps her in the cloak and the girl disappears. When he spots Serafina, he chases her but she manages to escape. Soon the estate is mobilized to search for the missing girl and Serafina meets Braeden Vanderbilt who is one of the few people who notice her.
She and Braeden need to work together to find the man in the black cloak and keep him from harming more children. Serafina needs to explore the woods near the estate which her father has told her are filled with dangers. In the forest, Serafina learns some secrets from her past and learns who she is.
This was a scary middle grade fantasy with an intrepid main character. It would make a great read-aloud because each chapter ended an an exciting bit that almost demanded that the reader keep reading.
Every person was a hero in his own mind, fighting for what he thought was right, or just fighting to survive another day, but no one thought they were evil.I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.