Serafina and the Black Cloak

Book review by
Amanda May Dundas, Common Sense Media
Serafina and the Black Cloak Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Spooky mystery-thriller about supernatural evil.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 20 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This story takes place at the historic Biltmore estate.

Positive Messages

Don't be ashamed about being different; stay true to your friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Serafina puts herself in danger to save others. She could easily steal from the rich but never does.

Violence & Scariness

A sinister-sounding man in a cloak is stealing children during the night in a very gruesome manner.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Serafina and the Black Cloak is a dark thriller that takes place in 1899 North Carolina. Children at the wealthy Biltmore estate are being abducted during the night. The adults are terrified yet clueless; only 12-year-old Serafina, who lives secretly in the basement with her mechanic father, knows that a mysterious man in a black cloak is taking them. Serafina and Braeden, the estate owners' nephew, set out to solve the mystery and save the remaining children, including themselves. This scary story is not for the faint of heart; the abduction scenes are graphic as children scream out in terror and seemingly vanish into the foul-smelling cloak. Serafina and Braeden are often under attack from the man in the cloak and other supernatural beings.  

Wondering if Serafina and the Black Cloak is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byPenny S. July 10, 2017


I am a parent and read this out of curiosity. It is absolutely terrifying. Gave me nightmares for 3 nights. I would absolutely not let my kids read this. I... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 9-year-old Written byShannon B. December 19, 2017

Agree - BIG NOPE!

This story was terrifying. I was extremely surprised to see it rated at 8+. I read it to see if it was appropriate for my 10 year old and there is no way I... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 28, 2017


This is probably one of the best books I've ever read. Serafina herself is a captivating character, and I can see someone reading the story just for her. B... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySugarfluffperson April 17, 2020

One of my favorite books, don't listen to weird adults who get nightmare easily...

This book didn't really scare me. None of them did and I in general don't love horror stories. This book has been one of my favorites for a long time... Continue reading

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Serafina, who lives in the boiler room in the basement of the wealthy Biltmore estate with her pa, longs to know the truth about her life: What happened to her mother, why she must stay hidden away, and whether -- with only eight toes and unusual golden eyes -- she isn't fully human. At night, Serafina stealthily walks about the mansion, borrowing books from the immense library and, as a self-appointed "Chief Rat Catcher," traps rats that roam the mansion. One night, she sees a mysterious and foul-smelling man in a black cloak abducting a child and making her vanish. Serafina, along with the Biltmore's owners' nephew Braeden, sets out to solve the mystery of the man -- and uncovers the truth of her own past in the process.

Is it any good?

This terrifying thriller is more than a great story; it's also a portrait of a brave, intelligent, and cunning girl. Despite a very difficult upbringing where she must stay hidden away, she's filled with compassion for the rich children who are in danger. With tantalizing clues dropped throughout, SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK is sure to appeal to mystery lovers and anyone who loves a good yarn -- and doesn't mind being scared!

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about scary stories. Why do we like them so much?

  • What are the ways that you feel different from other people?

  • Was Serafina's father right to hide the secret of her birth? Is it OK for parents not to tell the truth sometimes?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love scary stories

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate