Serafina and the Black Cloak, but it is billed as a New York Times Best Seller. I absolutely loved it. The author, Robert Beatty, does a remarkable job of sucking the reader in right from the beginning and filling his/her head with all sorts of questions to drive the reading. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and I fully enjoyed the tale.
Serafina has been secretly living in the basement of the Biltmore Estate with her father, the Biltmore's maintenance man, for all twelve years of her life. Her father has instructed her to never be seen by the owners or guests and to never disclose her name. This is the first mystery I couldn't wait to unravel. Why must she hide from the light? Why can't she get to know other kids? Is he only fearful of losing his job, or is there more to her story?
When Serafina observes a man in a black cloak stealing away to the basement with a young girl, who later is declared missing, she knows that she must come out of hiding in order to help find the girl and identify and defeat the individual in the black cloak. Longing for a friend, and for someone who will believe what she saw, Serafina joins forces with Braeden Vanderbilt (nephew to the owners, whose own family was lost to him in a fire) to solve the mystery before more children are taken.
The pacing was perfect. It kept me reading and hoping for further answers. The revelation of the mystery behind Serafina was satisfying and entertaining. There was just enough historical information about the Biltmore Estate to be informative and interesting. I loved the characters of Serafina and Braeden. This would make a fun read-aloud for an upper elementary classroom in October because it has a shade of spooky and a mite of magic. If you are enticed by book trailers, this is an excellent trailer for the book: