Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Today's read... Serafina and the Black Cloak: The Graphic Novel by Robert Beatty

The original form of today's read appeared in 2015 and became a best-selling series. I remember taking a look at it and enjoying the dark twists, too. When I heard that it was coming out, now, as a graphic novel series, my fingers itched to get a hold of a copy. This first one did come out beginning of April, and I had to wait until now until I could finally take a peek (the woes of having too many books to read). 
So, let's see how well this more visual version brings Serafina's adventure across. 

The Graphic Novel
based on tale by Robert Beatty
adapted by Michael Moreci
Illustrated by Braeden Sherrell
Disney Hyperion
Middle Grade Historical Fantasy  /  Graphic Novel
128 pages
ages 8 to 12

Robert Beatty's best-selling gothic fantasy about an unforgettable heroine is now a mesmerizing graphic novel with rich, atmospheric illustrations.

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity…before all of the children vanish one by one.

Readers who enjoy history and mystery and like their thrills and chills in visual form will delight in this graphic novel adaptation of a bestseller.



With darker images and historical details, this is a thrilling read, which will have kids hiding under their blankets long after bedtime.

Serafina has spent much of her twelve-years, living in the basement of a manor with her father. She's not allowed to let anyone know she exists or her father would lose his job. But she's found her own usefulness and serves the house as the unknown rat catcher...something she's amazingly talented at. When she hears screams in another section of the basement, she rushes to save whoever is in danger despite what it means to her own existence. But when she sees a creature in a dark cloak absorb a little girl, she barely escapes with her life. Still, she can't let the horror be ignored and tries to figure out a way to stop whatever evil is at large before more children disappear.

The graphics in these pages take on a darker tone, sticking mostly to the drearier atmosphere...and this works very well. Serafina's world is a darker place as she's spent most of it in the basement and out only at night. The scenes are well placed and keep the tension high, while still allowing the time period and characters to come across nicely. There was a time or two, where the frame order threw me for a moment, but the rest is an easy read. It was easy to get lost into the tale and hard to put the book down until the very last page.

To make sure this hangs closely to the original tale, there seems to be an fairly even divide between dialogue (speech bubbles) and explained plot and thoughts (presented in when text in black rectangles). This mix keeps the events clear and allows the reader to dive deeper into Serafina's head. It's well suited for the middle grade level and will pull even slightly older readers in.

It's a grabbing story with surprising twists and turns. Not only does Serafina find herself up against a dangerous creature, but learns more about herself. So, there is quite a bit of character depth going on as well. It also hits upon friendship and learning to step past the comfort zone. More sensitive readers might be bothered by the creepiness of the creature and a couple more aggressive scenes. Those, who enjoy a touch of fear and shadows, will enjoy this one quite a bit.

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