With all the hype leading up to the release of Serafina and the Black Cloak, it’s pretty clear that Disney’s looking to discover and be a part of the next big book franchise. I think they may just have found it.
Well-written and intriguing, Serafina and the Black Cloak feels like something wonderfully familiar and new all at once. In the vein of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, Beatty has written the beginning of a great hero journey series for middle schoolers, but with one major difference… The hero is a girl. And, not just any girl, but a truly unique one for reasons that I won’t tell because it’ll spoil parts of the book for you. Throughout the book, Serafina goes through the process of questioning who she is and what her purpose is, and she comes out on the other side of it as an admirable and strong young woman. Set during the time of the Vanderbilt family and the Biltmore House in the mountains of North Carolina, historical and factual details are woven into the narrative seamlessly, which creates a fascinating delve into historical fiction for middle grades readers. The supporting cast of characters are remarkable, too; they include the Vanderbilt family, a wide variety of people who have come to stay as guests in their home, and the large staff that kept a place like the Biltmore House running.
There’s a battle between good and evil here, and good wins out just as we’d expect in an MG title, but it’s done in a fresh way and comes across as something different. The book never really fully delves into witchcraft (portrayed as evil) or paranormal stuff, but there are touches of it that make the story mysterious and a little spooky. When the evil force driving the antagonist is finally defeated, it’s with something clearly good, which makes me comfortable with recommending this for school reading for grades 4 and up.
Serafina and the Black Cloak comes out on July 14th, and it should be everywhere when it comes out… But, click here to see it on Amazon (where it’s already listed as a #1 New Release) if you’d like to preorder it, or check with your favorite local bookseller to order it.