Serafina and the Black Cloak (Serafina, Book 1)
Serafina and the Twisted Staff (Serafina, Book 2)
Serafina and the Splintered Heart (Serafina, Book 3)
Serafina and the Seven Stars (Serafina, Book 4)
By: Robert Beatty
My Rating: Four out of Five Stars
Best for: 10 and up
Feb 2021 Re-Read
My 11-year-old has a new all time favorite series! Serafina hit all the right notes for my kiddo. She plowed through all 4 books faster than she’s ever read anything–so huge win for Serafina! I didn’t love the first one enough to have read the rest of the series back in 2017. Of course she wanted me to read it with her so she could talk about it, and you can’t really say no to that.
I re-read book one, then forced myself to keep going. The things we do for our kids!
Unfortunately, I didn’t love book 1 the second time any more than I did the first time. I stuck with it because of the kid AND because I often settle into a series after a first-book let down as I get used to the author’s style and get invested in the characters. Sadly, no luck this time. I struggled with books 2, 3, and 4 in the same ways I struggled with book 1.
The MC’s “mountain girl” voice was grating and SO hard to read, and the narrative voice wasn’t consistent either. The problems aren’t plausible with the story, and the solutions are overly simplistic. The bad guys are truly creepy, and there is an unexpected intensity to the violence that made me cringe. If it hadn’t been for my solemn Dad word of honor, I likely would have bailed sometime around book 2.
The fact that my young reader was SO gripped by the story and characters cannot be ignored. She loved the mystery, the relationships, the magic, and she loved the historical elements, too. The setting is the Biltmore Mansion in its turn-of-the-century glory, and that does add some fun fuel for the imagination. There’s definitely something there, and my grown-up-boy-dad opinion shouldn’t discourage other young readers who would enjoy an imaginative magical mystery trip into history like my young reader did.
No grown up stuff to be concerned about here, but parents should know these books are dark and scary. The bad guys are creepy, and there are some pretty intense animal attacks throughout–stuff that made me cringe. My daughter and I talked about the scary stuff, but she wasn’t deterred. Your sensitive reader might be.
I give the series 3 stars. She gives it 5. So we’re going to meet in the middle with 4.
Serafina and the Black Cloak would be a great choice for a 8 – 12 year old looking to read something creepy and a bit scary.
The kid in me loved the mystery, the magic, and the feeling of not wanting to read this one it the dark.
The grown up part of me felt frustrated with the inconsistent prose, the clunky dialogue, and the boring attempt to become historical fiction by forcing in skip-able descriptions of the Biltmore Estate.
The book was saved from being quickly forgotten by an actually great ending that left me seriously considering reading the next book to see if the quality of the writing catches up to the story.