Monday, July 13, 2015

Blog Tour: Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

It's 1899 and Serfina and her pa have lived in the basement  boiler room of the sprawling Biltmore estate, home to the Vanderbilt family in Asheville, North Carolina, for 12 years.  Pa's job there is to maintain the Dynamo, a machine that keeps the electricity running throughout the building.  No one there knows about Serafina, and she has learned to make herself unnoticeable in the presence of other people.  She is also the CRC, Chief Rat Catcher, and it is a job she's very good at.

One night, after catching two rats, Serafina hears footsteps that don't belong in the basement, followed by the cries of a young girl for help.  She finds the girl just in time to see a ghoulish looking man wrap the folds of his cloak around her and then…she simply disappears.  But when the man comes after her, Serafina goes into fight mode and succeeds in getting away, but not before biting him.  He may look like a ghoul, but he was definitely human.

The next morning Serafina decides she must go upstairs and tell someone what she saw during the night.  As she listens to the Vanderbilts and their guests, she is startled when someone asks if she is lost.   Braeden, 12, is the Vanderbilt's orphan nephew, living with them since his family was killed in a fire.  A loner like Serafina, he is, as always, accompanied by his doberman pincher, Gidean.

It doesn't take long for the two, such opposites in the surface but so alike underneath, to become friends and decide to work together to solve the mystery of the children missing from the Vanderbilt estate.  It turns out that the girl Serafina saw disappear the night before isn't the first one, nor will she be the last.

To make matters worst, someone has attacked the Dynamo, plunging Biltmore into darkness every night while Pa works long hours trying to fix it.  

As their investigation goes along, and more children disappear, Serafina, who has never disobeyed her Pa, finds herself needing to know more about who she is, who her mother is, and why they must live in the basement.  Knowing she is different, and not just because she has golden eyes, 4 toes on each foot and the shoulder bones don't connect, both she and the reader are in for some real surprises that I certainly didn't see coming.

Serfina begins to have a sense of urgency as she and Braeden work on solving the mystery of the missing children. realizing that the cloaked man is now after her new friend.  But why?  What does the Man in the Black Cloak want from the children he kidnaps and seems to consume?  I suspect the answer will surprise you as much as it did me.

With Serafina and the Black Cloak, Robert Beatty has written a coming-of-age novel that will give you more than a few spine-tingling moments, more that a few shivers and that will keep you reading right up to the very satisfying ending.  But it is also a story about courage, friendship, self-acceptance and trust.  Both Serafina and Braeden are compelling, straightforward, well developed characters.  The setting, the beautiful, palatial Biltmore estate, is as much a main character as the two friends, and Beatty has described it so well, that the reader will feel like they are as familiar with the house's interior as Serafina is.  Of course, the surrounding forest, which Serafina has been warned to stay away from by her Pa and which she has always felt drawn to, adds another layer of mystery to this wonderfully gripping story.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys speculative fiction, but if you're still not sure, I think this beautiful book trailer  may change your mind:

Now, meet the talented author who penned Serafina and the Black Cloak:

Robert Beatty lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters, who help create and refine his stories. He loves to explore the grand Biltmore Estate and the darkened forest trails where his novels take place. Robert’s Disney Hyperion novel Serafina and the Black Cloak will go on sale July 14, 2015. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, Robert was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative Magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year. Answering a question about the inspiration for his book, Robert said, “Serafina’s journey grew out of my desire to write a story about an unusual and heroic young girl for my three daughters.”

Serfina and the Black Cloak will be available June 14, 2015.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to my by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion


  1. Hi! Stopping by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Thank you for this review. I'm adding Serafina to my to read list. :)

  2. Oh Wow, this is going on the TBpurchased pile, I am just absolutely taken by the story!!!! Thanks so much for sharing it with us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

  3. Robert, I'm stopping by from the Kid Lit Link Hop to say hello to a fellow North Carolinian (I'm a flatlander from Raleigh). Biltmore is one of my fave destinations, so I especially look forward to reading your book. All the best!

  4. This book looks super interesting! I love mystery and suspense and I think my 9 year old would really enjoy it too! Thanks for sharing! Visiting from the Kit lit blog hop!


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