Serafina lives in the basement of the grand Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Her father works on the estate as a mechanic, keeping the newly invented Edison machine operating so the Vanderbilts and their guests will have electric lights. The Vanderbilts don’t know that Serafina and her father live in the basement. They don’t even know that Serafina exists. Her father has kept her a secret for years because Serafina isn’t quite normal. She only has four toes on each foot for one thing. She’s unusually quick and agile and can see in the dark. She’s a great rat catcher. Spoiler alert: She’s a catamount, part human and part cat.
One night, while the household sleeps, Serafina is on her normal nightly prowl around the basement when she witnesses a man in a black cloak abduct a little girl. Somehow, the cloak makes the girl disappear. The cloaked man sees Serafina and tries to take her too but she manages to escape.
The next night, another child is taken. Search parties are formed but no sign of the missing children are found. Serafina knows she must stop this evil man, but who is he and what is he?
She meets Braeden, the Vanderbilt’s nephew, and the two kids become unlikely allies in their quest to solve the mystery and stop the abductions.
This book is a first for me. I’ve never read a midgrade-horror-fantasy-mystery-historical fiction before. Robert Beatty did a great job weaving it all together into one seamless story. It was compelling and engaging even though there were times when the description was overdone. Occasionally, I found it difficult to suspend disbelief, but I don’t think younger and more flexible minds would have a problem with it. Kids will thoroughly enjoy this book. Recommended for ages 9-12.
Check out the book trailer here!