Serafina and the Black Cloak: The Graphic Novel

Serafina and the Black Cloak: The Graphic Novel
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Release Date
April 04, 2023
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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 is:a 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.

Editor review

1 review
Horror Favorite Adapted into Graphic Novel
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Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Serafina and her father live in the basement of the Biltmore Mansion in the early 1900s. Her father works there repairing equipment, and Serafina toils on as the chief rat catcher, finding rodents in the night and carrying them outside to release them. She is not allowed out in the day, and her father tells her that no one must see her. She does come to the attention of the young, orphaned Braeden Vanderbilt, and talks to him about the fact that children have gone missing from the estate. Serafina has had a run in with a dark and creepy figure in a black cloak, and thinks that it is behind the disappearances, but no one would believe her. She talks to her father about her background and finds out odd and disturbing secrets about her past. When she is out of the basement in the daylight, a staff member wants to know who she is, but she makes her escape with Braeden in a carriage. The two share a deep bond neither understand but find comforting. When they run into trouble in the woods, the need to solve the mystery of the disappearances grows more desperate. Will Serafina be able to solve the mystery and return the lost children to their parents?
Good Points
It's always interesting to read a graphic novel version of a novel I read years ago (this originally came out in 2015), and see what I remember. Serafina wearing her father's shirts so he wouldn't be seen buying dresses in town was foremost in my mind; sure enough, the drawings do show her in a belted garment that looks suspiciously like an old fashioned undershirt. I also remember violent killigs of rats, but this seems to have been changed to relocating them. She does still have to grab them and hold them tight, which was uncomfortable to read! The rest of the story remains the same, and some of the issues in Serafina's past are made more clear by having illustrations.

While it's rather disturbing that Serafina has been hidden away in a basement for her whole life, her father has good reasons for it that I don't want to spoil, and they do get beds and linen in the end! The mystery of the figure in the black cloak is rather dark, and there's a pervasive sense of dread and doom because of it. The pages mirror that feeling with very muted colors; blues for the night, and tans and maroons for the daytime. Despite the missing children and the evil of the cloak, Braeden and Serafina finally have each other and are able to have a soul mate to help them deal with their trauma.

There are several novels in the original series, so I wonder if more will be adapted into graphic novels. This put me in mind of several other middle grade novels, although I can't think of anything that is exactly like it. I think Serafine would be friends with Bunce's Myrtle Hardcastle, the figure in the cloak reminded me of some of the creepiness of Smith's Hoodoo, and this also had the adventure and something of the feel of Chadda's City of the Plague God.
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