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Reviews of Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak

  • Beatty, Robert. Serafina and the Black Cloak. Egmont Books, 2016.
    ISBN 9781405283786

Serafina and the Black Cloak (or choose a different book)

So far we have received 20 reviews of Serafina and the Black Cloak. Why not write your own review?

siham from Dunraven Secondary School said:

Serafina and the black cloak is an amazing book just after reading the first few chapters the book entices you into reading more. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in fantasy, mystery and amazing stories.

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27 Apr 2017 11:16

Hamza from Dunraven Secondary School said:

Serafina and the black cloak is a very interesting book because of the cloak
At first I though that the book was a bit boring because of its front cover but actually it really got good when I got to middle because of Serafina's adventure.I really enjoyed the mysterious cloak because it was the excitement of the Serafina's adevnture

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26 Apr 2017 16:56

Hamza and Daniel from Dunraven Secondary School said:

The book is about a twelve year girl that lives in Biltmore Estate in North Carolina,Ashveille. the book was very mysterious and weird it makes you feel like you're actually there with Serafina

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26 Apr 2017 11:43

Sofia and Mahima from Dunraven Secondary School said:

Serafina and the black cloak was a very interesting book because there was a girl named Serafina that was very peculiar and strange in her own way because she hunts rats at night and apparently she is chief mouse catcher of the household named Biltmore Estate she also lived in the basement of the estate. We like the fact that her father told her never to go into the forest as there are many dangers upon it. We also loved the description of the book it make you feel like you are there. Our favorite part was when she found out about her long lost mother as for her father never liked mentioning about her mother. I couldn't help falling in love with the characters especially Serafina and Braeden there the stars of the book.

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26 Apr 2017 11:42

Safiya from Dunraven Secondary School said:

Serafina and the black cloak - A very gripping story about a young girl named Serafina who discovers a mysterious man in a black cloak, kidnapping the other children from Biltmore estate.

Having a first glance at the cover of the book, I guessed that it would include some sort of magic, like a fantasy story. It was great, the imaginative storyline, the fantastic descriptions, the magic and mystery - Overall just a real page turner! The tension of not knowing what would happen next really kept me going. At some points I found it really hard to not put the book down. I was thrilled about the fact there is a sequel and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Serafina and the black cloak - A fantastic book in my opinion.

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26 Apr 2017 11:41

Alisa from Dunraven Secondary School said:

Serafina and the Black Cloak is set in the dark corridors of Biltmore Estate’s basement, the luxurious rooms of its upper floors, and in the surrounding gardens and forests. Twelve-year-old Serafina isn’t like other girls. She has golden eyes, not one friend and lives secretly in the basement of the magnificent Biltmore Estate with her father. I enjoyed reading this book as it has an original story-line. My favourite character was Serafina because she made the book exciting and different from other stories. This book is a bit boring in the beginning but gets more interesting as you turn the pages. The ending seemed quite short and rushed and it left a lot of unanswered questions. I didn't quite feel like I understood it all I recommend Serafina and the Black Cloak for people of all ages.

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26 Apr 2017 11:35

Abi and Lola from Dunraven Secondary School said:

This book is about a young girl called Serafina who lives in the basement of a grand house. She is not meant to be living in the basement but her father works in the boiler room so she has no choice. One night something strange happens. A man in a black cloak steals a small girl and nobody knows who he is. A search party tries to find the little girl, in doing so, Serafina meets a boy who helps her to solve the mystery.

We both enjoyed this book because it was full of cliffhangers and shocking discoveries. It was very atmospheric and the descriptions were written in detail. The first chapter is not nearly as good as the rest of the book because it wasn't very gripping but as the story moved forward it got better and better on every page. However,some chapters were not as interesting and they were sometimes a bit confusing.

We would recommend this book to people aged 11 or 12 and people who like fantasy but also mystery.

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26 Apr 2017 11:23

Ruby from Streatham and Clapham High School for Girls said:

Serafina and the black cloke was an interesting book consisting of a whole variety of vocabulary.
This book was thrilling as you did not know what was going to happen next. My favourite part of the book was when Serafina caught the rats. A stunning book to read.!

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25 Apr 2017 17:40

Stella-Maris from La Retraite Catholic School for Girls said:

I think that the idea of the book is very good and imaginative but the way it is written wasn’t gripping enough. Yet the description is good but apart from those parts I wasn’t drawn to turning the page. On the other hand the description is very good and I really feel like I’m there.

At the start it was boring and it didn’t make me want to turn the page but towards the middle of the book it started to get a little bit interesting.

If I wasn’t “forced” to read it I would’ve stopped way before.

Personally I did not enjoy the book but others may.
That's why I am rating this book 2.5 stars.

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20 Apr 2017 15:56

Bianca from La Retraite Catholic School for Girls said:

Looking at the cover, I predicted that the book would contain some sort of magic, something fantastical. It also seemed as if something grave was to occur from inference. When I opened the book and read the first page, I was attracted by the third-person perspective because it gives that illusion and that visual that the reader is witnessing the events that occur whilst actually being there. Something I do not necessarily like about first-person books is that it feels as if the reader is trapped inside the main character’s body, which does not appeal to me at all. Another thing I like is how Serafina is actually a twelve-year-old girl, instead of a legitimate teenager like I had imagined her. A message, I suppose, is that anything is possible, no matter what age one is, and this appeals to me because morals and important lessons like this are very inspirational and motivational. I like the sense of mystery, because Serafina and her pa have been living in the basement of Biltmore Estate for ages, unbeknownst to any of the residents or guests of the house. I actually got petrified for Serafina when Braeden discovered her, and when one of the guests threatened to disclose her identity. I think that one of the most shocking turn of events was when, at the end, everyone acknowledged the fact that it was, in fact, Mr Thorne who was behind all of the kidnappings, and how depressing the reasoning behind it was. He was slowly disintegrating and needed the youth of the children he abducted in order to survive the temptations of the Black Cloak.

My description of the book is that it is full of mystery and adventure and action. It gets one’s heart racing whenever they contemplate what could have happened to Serafina, to Braeden, or to the lost children that were consumed by the Black Cloak. The unanswered questions are what persuades someone to proceed with the reading, like what (not who) Serafina’s mother was that would make Serafina so magical and peculiar compared to everyone else, and why she left her. How did Serafina’s pa come about finding Serafina and adopting her? One enquiry that was not answered, however, was why the Black Cloak wanted its victims to abduct children. How was the Black Cloak created? Is it the only magical thing to exist? What happened to it after Serafina successfully killed Thorne? It is these unanswered queries that are my justification for why there should be a sequel to the book, perhaps carrying on with a returning appearance from the Black Cloak.

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20 Apr 2017 12:39

Sofia from The Norwood School said:

I thought Serafina And The Black Cloak was a really good book.
It is about a girl called Serafina who lives secretly in the basement of a rich mansion called Billtmore Estate with her father. She never knew her mother. She finds out questions she always wanted to know. But children are being taken mysteriously by a man in a black cloak and she needs to stop him.

I really liked the genre because it was gothic with some magic and mystery in it. The settings were also interesting as they were all very different. It is really interesting because their is alot of mystery and questions you will ask yourself while you read the book. It is really gripping. When I read it I felt like I wanted to carry on reading because I wanted to find out all the answers. Also, i liked the story line. I only gave it four stars because the ending was slightly confusing and a bit short. But over all I think it was a great and interesting book and I enjoyed it.
I would recomend this book to anybody who has a taste for dark, gothic themes, and also fantasy and mystery. And ofcourse magic!

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19 Apr 2017 18:38

Maya from The Norwood School said:

I thought this book was a bit confusing and not real enough for me because i don't generally like fantasy books anyway so i can really judge but i didn't think it was the best fantasy book I've red 😀😕

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19 Apr 2017 16:20

Audrey from La Retraite Catholic School for Girls said:

This book was quite interesting. However, at some points in the story, it was quite boring. The plot twist at the end,(when Serafina's mom soul was split inside the cloak and in the lioness) was a bit surprising, but for me it really wasn't the best plot twist. But the story line was great overall.

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18 Apr 2017 16:58

Ibrahim from The Norwood School said:

Serafina and the Black Cloak is a remarkable book set in Biltmore Estate in Asheville in North Carrolina. Containing elements of horror, this book is perfect for readers who love horror stories.

Living secretly in the basement of Biltmore Estate, is an odd girl with four toes on each foot and golden eyes(named Serafina)and her father (he found Serafina in the forest she was taught to fear). Her father was the man who kept every machine in the mansion working.

Serafina is forbidden to wander in the forest or upstairs at the Vanderbilt's. However one night when Serafina sees a hovering black cloak consume a little girl she is eager to find out who that person was and she becomes even more eager when other children begin to disappear. Her and her loner friend Braeden Vanderbilt team up to solve the mystery whilst finding out her family secret.

I liked how this book had a mixture of horror and mystery and how it was full to the brim of tension. Fabulous book!!

Loke this book? Then read 'Serafina and the Twisted Staff' another Robert Beatty's gripping stories.

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17 Apr 2017 11:32

Alphadine from La Retraite Catholic School for Girls said:

Serefina is an interesting book with an interesting premise I like the idea, it was enjoyable to read and we get to learn about the character. However the ending did feel a bit predictable and a bit to rushed towards the end, but it was still a nice book and I hope there is a sequel so it makes more sense.

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14 Apr 2017 22:28

Emma from Streatham and Clapham High School for Girls said:

Serfina is not like the other girls. She can merge into the shadows and move around Biltmore undertected. Life had seem so normal until the children of guests started disappearing. She mets a young master called Braeden. Will she trust him with her secret? Will they work together to uncover the mystery?

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11 Apr 2017 19:02

Emma from Streatham and Clapham High School for Girls said:

Since Serafina can remember she and her pa have live hidden in the basement of Biltmore estate. Her father tells here never to go in the forest for it is extremly dangerous. Mysteriously every night aninnocent child dissapeares. She cannot slove this mystery on her own.
Serifina has never met anyone from the outside world before until she met Braeden. The hosts nephew. Together they will embark on a life changing journey!

Star Rating:

07 Apr 2017 21:48

Aliyah from The Norwood School said:

Serafina and the black cloak is an amazing book about serafina the main character who lives with her pa in the basement of biltmore Manor. Suddenly she realised that children are starting to disappear when she sees a girl being sucked away by the black cloak. Her and her new friend braeden try to find out who is behind all of this and serafina also questions why her pa is so protective of her going back into the forest.

I absolutely Love this book the description is amazing and almost every single chapter in this book ends with some suspense making me always want to read on to the next chapter. I love the theme of horror and mystery since it is a great combination and go together really well. I think that his book has an extremely high chance at winning the book award. My only complaint is that he beginning is quite boring but other than that I highly recommend this book To ANYONE it's definitely my favourite!

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06 Apr 2017 19:44

Nicole from The Elmgreen School said:

Beatty’s suspenseful debut opens in 1899 in Asheville N.C at the historic Biltmore Estate. Twelve year old Seraphina 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 – who was born with four toes on each foot, golden eyes and other physical peculiarities – from wandering upstairs among the Vanderbilt’s 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 Braden’) makes for an eerie historical mystery.
What I liked about the book is that the author writes it so that you don’t know what is going to happen next and that the characters feel real to you. The story keeps you guessing and certain types of scene are written particularly well, for example sad scenes, tense scenes and mysterious ones. The story grips you and keeps you turning the pages.

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06 Mar 2017 16:49

Emily from The Elmgreen School said:

Serafina is a horror story but it is not creep you awake at night scary. I don’t read horror as they can be too graphic. Serafina and the black cloak is very well written. It incorporates mystery and horror. I couldn’t help falling in love with the characters and especially Serafina as she is different from any other character.
The only two things I didn’t like are: 1, all the characters were too nice and accepting; and 2, why isn’t Serafina a catamount? Otherwise the book is brilliant. The blurb definitely describes the book well. I would definitely recommend it to any one of any age as it is the best book ever.

Star Rating:

06 Mar 2017 16:48

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Dan Smith wins 2017 Phoenix Book Award for Boy X

Huge congratulations to Dan Smith who won the Phoenix Book Award 2017 for Boy X!

On 4th May 2017 students from Elmgreen, Dunraven, Lilian Baylis, La Retraite, Streatham & Clapham High School and Platenos gathered at The Norwood School for the much anticipated finale celebration.

It was a fantastic morning filled with student presentations, film and drama. We were very lucky to have two of the shortlisted authors, Dan Smith and Katherine Woodfine, in attendance. Both gave fantastic presentations on their love of reading, their books and inspirations.

We were also very honoured to host Mayor Marcia Cameron who delivered an inspiring speech on her love for reading before handing out prizes and certificates to the students.

All 4 of the shortlisted books had been thoroughly enjoyed by the book groups - but the winner, as voted for by the students, is the gripping thriller Boy X by Dan Smith!

Message from Dan:

"These kinds of awards always mean so much because the readers choose their favourite books, write reviews, and vote for the winner. In the case of the Phoenix Book Award, the students even choose the shortlist. On the day, the students were amazing - different schools championed different books, giving presentations, showing films, and there was even a short piece of drama written especially for the occasion! And when it was time to announce the winner, it was so exciting to hear Boy X being called out! The students were fantastic, the organisation was perfect, and it was a huge honour to win. Thank you to everyone who voted for Boy X - the trophy is now proudly displayed on my bookshelf."

Photos from the event can be found in our Photo Gallery.

Dan Smith's response to 2017 shortlist place

DAN SMITH SAYS: "I am honoured and thrilled that Boy X has been shortlisted for the Phoenix Book Award! I wrote the book in the hope that younger readers would enjoy the adventure, so it's especially exciting to be shortlisted for an award like this - where the younger readers are in charge and they get to choose and vote for their favourites!"

G R Gemin's response to 2017 shortlist place

G R GEMIN SAYS: "When you write a book you are communicating, but you never know how your writing will be received by readers. So when Sweet Pizza was shortlisted for the Lambeth Phoenix Award it made all the hard work worthwhile.

I believe the book has an important message for its readers, which is we all have a story, and that history does not necessarily begin in the country in which we are born. We all have histories: our parents, grandparents and carers all have their stories which are important to know and remember. In the story of Sweet Pizza Joe finds out about the history of his grandfather and great grandfather. You too can do the same - you can ask your parents and grandparents or carers about their stories, their histories. It is called oral history. It is just as vital as the many history books and stories that you will come to know through your school work and research.

So I invite you to find out about your family histories and record them in a document, on paper or on computer, because I guarantee that as you grow older you will be glad you did it, as it will be a record that is unique to you and your family for years to come.

Thank you for shortlisting Sweet Pizza, I'm really sorry I can't be at the award event but I wish you enjoyment in reading and discovering all there is to know about your families and where you come from."

Robert Beatty's response to 2017 shortlist place

ROBERT BEATTY SAYS: "Thank you so much for nominating Serafina and the Black Cloak for the 2017 Lambeth Phoenix Book Award. I am so pleased and honored that the first book in the Serafina Series is one of your favorite books this year. I wrote Serafina and the Black Cloak with my daughters when they were 10 and 12 years old. They helped me to create the Serafina character and the story. They were very excited to hear about being nominated for this award. So, thank you for that.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please be sure to watch the book trailers for the first two books in the series. My family and I made these trailers near our home where the books are set. My wife made the beautiful costumes, my younger daughter plays the Serafina role, and my older daughter plays the role of Lady Rowena (book 2). We even used our dog in the trailer! :)


Good luck in the final phase of Book Award process. We look forward to learning the results. And best of luck with your studies and the remainder of the school year.

2017 Shortlist Announced

The shortlist for the 2017 Phoenix Book Award has been announced. Please visit our Books page for full details.

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4 May 2017
2017 Finale

The The Phoenix Book Award 2017 finale will take place on 4th May 2017 at The Norwood School.

The Phoenix Book Award 2017 Finale

Cool Ideas

  • Write a review here on the website
  • Design a film poster/advert for the book
  • Write a diary entry for one of the characters
  • Interview one of the characters
  • Research the author on the internet and prepare a presentation for the class

About the Award

This exciting South London based Book Prize targets Year 5, 6, 7 and 8 pupils in Lambeth, encouraging them to read through the transition years. Phoenix is a unique book prize as students are involved in every stage of the award; from picking the shortlist, to shadowing the award and then finally voting for their favourite. It is open to all schools in the Lambeth area - for more information please contact Sandra Davidson via our Contact page.

Pupils from Elmgreen School, La Retraite, Lillian Bayliss and The Norwood School had the responsibility of selecting and voting for books from a longlist of 32 titles to pick the 4 titles that are on this year's shortlist. The winner will be announced on 4th May 2017 at the finale event, being held at The Norwood School.