Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Middle Grade Historical/Paranormal Fantasy
Length: 293 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: July 2015
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
Ever since I heard about this novel when it was first released a year ago, I have been excited to read it. It's set at Biltmore (a large house in the mountains of North Carolina), which is a place I have visited. And the premise sounded very promising. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to my expectations.
While I think that Beatty's writing mechanics are very sound, his style was not one that I loved. I found the characters to be somewhat bland overall. And while I could understand that Serafina would be an easy character for middle graders to relate with, I had a hard time really becoming invested in her story.
The paranormal/fantasy element in this was not one that I particularly enjoyed. For me it was just taken slightly too far into a mythological tale. Maybe my opinion is impacted by the fact that I was expecting it to be more of a historical read with touches of myth and instead I got that flipped on it's head. I'm not entirely sure.
The The Man in the Black Cloak was an interesting villain and I found the story of the Black Cloak itself to be rather fascinating. Old myths can be interesting to build stories around. Again, for me it just took things a little too far in certain respects.
I felt that the ending was a little too clean, even for a middle grade book. There was really no hint at future conflict, which would have made it more dramatic. All of the adults just seemed to accept the story that Serafina and Braeden concoct without pause, which was too unrealistic for me. They just seemed somewhat oblivious and that wasn't an aspect of the story that I enjoyed.
This was overall an enjoyable read. I just didn't find it particularly riveting. I will be reading the sequel soon, so I'm hoping for improvement as Serafina's adventures continue.