Serafina and the Black Cloak

7 CDs. 8:41 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $45. ISBN 9781101917114. digital download.
Gr 4–6—Appalachian folklore is juxtaposed with a Gilded Age setting in this debut. Serafina and her pa secretly live in the basement of the Biltmore estate, home of the wealthy Vanderbilt family. While her father works on the Edison dynamo that provides the novel technology of electricity to the largest home in America, Serafina prowls the basement at night in her self-assigned role of chief rat catcher. There are only two rules she mustn't break: she can never be seen by any of the inhabitants of Biltmore, and she must never, ever go into the forest surrounding the estate. However, when the children of the house start disappearing and Serafina barely evades the clutches of a mysterious man in a black silk cloak, she knows she must break some rules. Accompanied by the master's nephew, Braeden, and his faithful Doberman, Gideon, Serafina must venture into the world of shadow and myth to save the souls of Biltmore's children. Beatty's atmospheric prose and Cassandra Campbell's narration are so vivid, listeners might imagine they can hear the slither of the black cloak.
VERDICT For listeners who like a healthy dose of spooky followed by a cozily happy ending, this book fits the bill.

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