ARC: Serafina and the Black Cloak

This historical fiction mystery is dark and interesting, but it needs more meat. #spon | A book review from Newbery and Beyond

Note: I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Summary via

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, 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 lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to sneak and hide.

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 the 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. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, she must delve into the mystery of her own identity.

This historical fiction mystery was fun and dark, but I wanted more content. I loved the setting at the Biltmore, and I wish the author had done more with that setting. I also wanted more of Serafina’s pa (how did he feel raising Serafina in the basement of a fancy house? What were some of his struggles?), the young master Braeden (what was his life like moving into the Biltmore?), and the Vanderbilts themselves.

So, short review even shorter, although Serafina is an interesting character–she’s good at catching rats, climbing, and seeing in the dark, and she loves to sneak around the Biltmore at night–there was not enough meat on this mystery. Disney is creating a whole line of similar mysteries and fairy tale retellings, so I’m interested to see if I enjoy those better.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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