Serafina is the Chief Rat Catcher (CRC) of the Biltmore Estate, only the owners of the estate, Mr and Mrs Vanderbilt, have no idea. Serafina was raised by their maintenance man, in their basement, most often hidden in the darkness. But that’s fine with her, Sera is at home in the darkness, in the tight spaces that rats often hide. Her Pa is a kind man, who has kept her existence a secret. Her entire life he has told her to stay out of sight, no one must know that she exists, but why? For years Serafina thought it was simply due to the fact that he could lose his job, but could there be more to her father’s worries? Was there something very wrong with her?
Serafina knows that children have been going missing in the Biltmore Estate for a few weeks, but that never worried her, she was good at hiding in the darkness, where she felt the most comfortable. But one night, during her usual hunt to rid the Estate of rats, Serafina finds a young girl in a yellow dress running for her life. Behind her is a tall man in a black, hooded cloak made of satin; Serafina witnesses the man absorb the screaming girl within the folds of the black cloak. After Serafina runs away to safety she is left with two choices- listen to her Pa, stay safe and hidden and ignore the disappearances of other children; or she could catch the most dangerous creature that has entered Biltmore.
What follows is a tale of bravery, cleverness, loyalty, friendship, and family. Our young heroine is joined by the quiet and sensible young master Braedan Vanderbilt, as they work to protect, and hopefully save the children of the area.
Whereas this book has a wonderful tale of bravery, of kindness, and friendship no matter the circumstances, I want to caution parents before letting their young ones reading this. *SPOILERS AHEAD* There is talk the entire book of demons and ghouls, and the reality is that the black cloak is the creation of a sorcerer. It feeds on the souls of humans, and children are specifically targeted for their youth as the wearer is dying. This book is dark, and intense. This is more than just “Disney magic” in that it’s magic that is very malevolent. I do not recommend it to families that are sensitive to dark magic in their entertainment, even the sorcerer isn’t seen as evil for having made an evil, soul-sucking cloak. My fellow Christian parents, I definitely encourage you to pray with your kiddos about this one. I will say that there is no specific witchcraft, there are no spells, and their is no “witch” involved. But it does also have a man stealing the souls of children.
I would definitely not recommend it to sensitive children. But if you and your family feel comfortable reading this I would recommend around the age of 12-14; for dark magic, a man absorbing children, and children in dangerous situations I am giving this 6 out of 10 on the cootie meter.