Tag Archives: Historical fiction

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9781484709016
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: “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. 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. Joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s 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. In order to save the children, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Review:

This book had a huge marketing hype around it. All the marketing, the intriguing description as well as the book-cover got me very excited about this book.
In many ways this book would be better off had the author invented a fictional family to go with the castle. Instead he chose to go with the family who are historically linked to the estate, and then he throws history all over the place. Of course all historical fiction does fictionalize a lot of things, but their fictional facts should in some fashion be linked to actual historical facts or theories.
The characters were easy to enjoy but they were a little flat. The mysteries are a bit simple and the books targeted audience (8-12 year olds) wouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the mysteries presented in the book. That is everything except Serafina’s own “past” which is barely foreshadowed at all and is just info-dumped on the reader in the end. Though it is pretty clear what she is, or it is very well displayed by the books illustrations, but the whole why and whens are just dropped in the end.
That aside, this is a book that can be enjoyed, particularly by it’s targeted audience, but the hype around it is insanely overplayed. This is a normal mediocre book which could have been much better had the story been a little more complex and with more colorful characters. If the novel had been longer and there had been more space for the character’s to evolve, this would have been a superb book.
By all means, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Se the astonishing book-trailer below (I would watch that movie):

Abomination

Title: Abomination
Author:  Gary Whitta
Genre: Historical Horror/Fantasy (?)
Publisher: Inkshares
Publishing date: July 30th, 2015
ISBN: 9781941758335
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: ENGLAND, 888 A.D. As King Alfred the Great struggles to defend his realm from hordes of Viking invaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury stumbles upon an ancient secret — dark magic that could turn the tide of the war in England’s favor. But when exposure to the magic corrupts the Archbishop, Alfred commands his greatest Knight, Sir Wulfric, to hunt the mad priest down. One final campaign for Wulfric, and one that brings with it disastrous consequences…

My Review:

Gary Whitta is no doubt a terrific screenwriter, there is no doubt in that. With Abomination he tries his hands on fiction writing, and his book’s premise is intriguing and original. It was with great excitement started reading his book, and after a few chapters I found myself wishing he had just written a screen play for a movie or a TV-series.
The story is well told, apart from many striking historical inaccuracies. The inaccuracies can be dealt with as a part of the premise is that historians did cover up what really went down.  The writing-style is simple and straight forward, and too much so. To me this book reads much more like a screenplay than a piece of fiction. There is too much telling, and not enough showing. The reader is never challenged to think on his or her own, it’s just simply too simple.
The characters are interesting but not too complex, and I am not quite sure if this is intended to be a teen/YA-book or a book intended for adults, the writing style and word choices indicate the former.
The story has such promise and the blurb felt like a fresh breath, though the reading experience would have been greater if the author expected more from his readers.