Walk the Plank – serafina and the black cloak (Robert Beatty)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This was another audiobook that I picked up because it takes place at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina and because of the wonderful cover:

I loved the setting of the book.  I visited the Biltmore Estate as a younger human and had so much fun there.  Both the house and the grounds are exciting.  The house has 250 rooms, 3 kitchens, 43 bathrooms, an indoor pool, and was wired for electricity.  The grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same guy who designed Central Park in NYC.  Though part of the house is a museum, it is still a privately owned residence with some of the Biltmore descendants living there.  I thought that it was clever to set a mystery story in an historic house with so many possibilities.

Unfortunately, I seem to be in the minority with this book and am rather disappointed in it.  To be fair, I thought the setup and introduction to Serafina was exciting.  Serafina herself is a fun character.  Yes she has four toes on each foot and her bones are not formed in a typical fashion but she is clever, feisty, smart, and curious.  I loved the mystery surrounding her.  She was abandoned in the woods and raised by the maintenance man for the Estate.  She and her adopted father have been living in the house basement for over a decade and yet no one knows of her existence.  But then Serafina discovers something that changes her life forever.

Ye see in this book, children are being stolen from the Biltmore estate.  Serafina is the only one who knows the man in the black cloak took them.  But who is the man in the black cloak?  And can Serafina overcome her fears to help stop him?

While I did love watching Serafina’s self-discovery, I did not love the plot, the other characters, or the conclusion to the mystery.  Once the bad man is introduced, the plot came to a halt.  Serafina does a lot of waffling.  The tone of her internal monologues kept changing in style and diction.  The story does a lot of meandering to no purpose.  The other characters are extremely one dimensional.  The Vanderbilts, George and Edith, were actual historical figures but came across as benign cardboard cutouts.  I was also annoyed that the author made up Serafina’s friend, Braeden Vanderbilt and gave him a tragic backstory so Serafina and he could bond.  And the differences in their social classes were handled in such a lazy and unrealistic fashion.

And then ye have a child growing up in a house of wonders for the time and those specific traits of the Biltmore house were not used enough.  Electricity does play a significant role in the story.  But what hidden child wouldn’t want to use the indoor pool or bowling alley?  Cool features like these weren’t even mentioned.  Serafina’s secret forays into the upstairs of the house also felt unrealistic and confusing.  Seriously she should have been caught at some point!

The ending was abrupt and lackluster.  The mystery of the cloaked man was not really that interesting after all.  The final duel was laughable.  And the explanation of what happened to the mystery children and the consequences of their disappearance made no sense.  Even the answer to Serafina’s mystery was convenient and rather boring.

The book should have been a better tribute to a terrific protagonist.  It fell flat.  But it does seem beloved and was on the NY Times bestseller list for 45 weeks.  Perhaps ye will like it.  I just don’t get the hype.  For me this one walks the plank!  Arrrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

“Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the 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 the 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.

Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic, one that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Robert Beatty – Author

To buy the book go to:

serafina and the black clock – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

17 thoughts on “Walk the Plank – serafina and the black cloak (Robert Beatty)

    1. Well that is good to know. I am not missing anything. I am sort of confused why this one is so popular and was on the NY Times bestsellers list for so long. I won’t be readin’ any more of this author’s work. Thanks for the comment and welcome aboard! Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy this one: it does have a lovely cover, and the premise is interesting. Thanks for the review, though, it was a good read (and now I can admire the pretty book without getting annoyed at its contents).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment matey! It has such a pretty cover. But I be glad I borrowed this one from a local library and so I do not have to chuck it overboard (after ripping off the pretty cover of course!). Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No I do not feel like any of the historical elements are used well. I don’t really blurbs either or I let enough time pass that I forget them before I pick a book up to read. In this case, the blurb sounds better than the book turned out to be. But the kids seem to love this one!
      x The Captain


  2. Aww bummer. I hate the plank! Seriously though, I didn’t realize this was about a famous house, which might have made me pick this up. But it’s middle grade, right? Not my go-to age group unfortunately. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought this one was boring, as well. Boyfriend’s daughter loved all 3 of them, but I just didn’t see the appeal.

    Did you ever visit the Biltmore? It’s freaking huge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well it is nice to see I am not the only one who finds this one boring. But a lot of the kids do love it so that is important in its own right. I visited it once and thought it was awesome. Me favourite aspect was the swimming pool. While reading about the house recently I learned that the water couldn’t be cleaned, there were lights in the swimming pool, and most people of the time didn’t know how to swim! Thanks for the comment matey!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Overhyped books are mostley books i steer clear of. Sure the tip of the iveberg looks lovely, but underneath the waters it still sunk the Titanic if you catch me drift, I dont even think i cuaght me own drift. Made more sence in me head, sorry dear. Great review still

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.