Book: Serafina and the Seven Stars
Author: Robert Beatty
Age Range: 8-12
Serafina and the Seven Stars is the fourth book in Robert Beatty's Serafina series (and the first book in quite a while to inspire me to write a formal review). I have previously reviewed books two and three: Serafina and the Twisted Staff and Serafina and the Splintered Heart, but you should certainly start with book one: Serafina and the Black Cloak. This review does contain spoilers for the previous books, so stop here if you have not read the others.
The Serafina books feature a girl who is being raised at the Biltmore Estate in the North Carolina mountains around the turn of the 20th century. Serafina, adopted as a baby by the household maintenance man, has the power to transform between girl and mountain lion. With help from Vanderbilt nephew Braeden, her best friend, Serafina has established herself as Guardian of the Biltmore Estate, which is regularly besieged by dark forces.
In this fourth installment, set during hunting season in 1900, Serafina finds herself separated from Braeden and facing her most threatening challenge yet. I read a lot and I always appreciate books like this one in which I can't figure out what's going on any sooner than the main character does. I found Serafina and the Seven Stars to be suspenseful as well as moving. I especially appreciated Serafina's developing relationships with the Vanderbilt family and her own father.
I love Beatty's blend of lyricism, humor, and mystery. Like this:
"She loved to run with her feline brother and sister through the forest, but they were pure mountain lions, not catamount shape-shifters, so she couldn't strategize with them, sneak through the house with them, make secret plans, devise ingenious traps, kill demons, or do any of the things that normal friends did together." (Page 20, ARC)
The Biltmore Estate is essentially a character in all of the books, an attribute (fascinating and complex house) that I always find appealing. If anything, this is even more true in book four, as Serafina moves further out of the shadows and into the household. There's also an engaging new character who promises to play a part in future books.
Like the other books in the series, Serafina and the Seven Stars is a bit dark for middle grade readers. There are desperate battles and violent deaths, as well as a strong atmosphere of foreboding. Although Amazon lists this title as being for ages 8-12, I personally expect to hold off on offering these books to my daughter until she is ten. Perhaps by then there will be a book five, and she can devour them all in a single burst.
In short, I found Serafina and the Seven Stars to be a highly satisfying addition to the Serafina series, and I hope that Robert Beatty will continue to add titles to this fantasy universe. [See also Willa of the Wood, a companion novel.]
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher
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