Friday, May 27, 2016

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Serafina lives with her pa in the basement of the grand Biltmore mansion.  Her father is the mechanic for the estate and he has dubbed Serafina Chief Rat Catcher because of her uncanny ability to find the creatures and relocate them to the woods.  But Serafina's job is a secret since no one in the family knows they are living in the basement.  One night Serafina sees a man in a black cloak chasing a young girl through the basement and when he catches her, his black cloak swirls around them both and seems to eat up the girl.  Serafina tells her pa but he doesn't believe her.  Not even when they get word that a guest of the house has disappeared without a trace.  As the adults and staff search for the girl as well as another one who is still missing from a few days earlier, Serafina begins working with the nephew of the master of the house who likes animals better than people and who believes her stories of the black cloak.  The two are in a race against time to find the missing girls.  Worse, Serafina is sure that the man in the black cloak has set his sights on the young master of the house as his next victim.

I found this book to be mildly enjoyable although a touch young.  The main problem I had with the book is the (to me) extremely obvious foreshadowing regarding the villain and Serafina's origins.  I knew both nearly right from the beginning which took a lot away from the mystery and fantasy of the book.

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