cover image Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Robert Beatty. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4847-0901-6

Beatty's suspenseful debut opens in 1899 in Ashville, N.C., at the historic Biltmore Estate. Twelve-year-old Serafina and her father secretly live in the basement of the Biltmore, where he keeps the mansion's many mechanisms in working order. He forbids Serafina%E2%80%94who was born with four toes on each foot, golden eyes, and other physical peculiarities%E2%80%94from wandering upstairs among the Vanderbilts or into the woods, where he found and rescued her as an infant. One night, Serafina sees a man capture a girl, who vanishes into his cloak. With more children disappearing, she teams up with fellow loner Braeden Vanderbilt, nephew of the estate's owner, to search for the so-called Man in the Black Cloak, leading them deep into the forest. Serafina's quest to understand herself and her unknown family history, along with some truly creepy moments and imagery (during one encounter, the Man in the Black Cloak "seemed to float on the violence of the battle, his decaying, blood-dripping hands reaching outward as he came upon Braeden"), makes for an eerie historical mystery. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Bill Contardi, Brandt & Hochman. (July)