Book Review

Serafina and the Splintered Heart

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty

Published 2017

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fantasy

Setting: Early 20th Century Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore Estate.

For the third and final book in this captivating series, Serafina and her friends are back to defeat the evil sorcerer, Uriah, before he destroys the Biltmore Estate and all who live there.

Serafina starts the series (Serafina and the Black Cloak) as the unusual daughter of the handyman/electrician for the Biltmore mansion. She can see in the dark better than anyone she knows and moves with an animal-like quietness. Unaware of who she really is, she lives hidden in the basement with her father and acts, secretly, as the house rat catcher. At night, she creeps about the house unseen, observing a life she knows she can never take part in.

During a grand party one evening, Serafina witnesses a horrifically unnatural kidnapping and knows she must reveal herself to the residents of Biltmore to tell them of the crime. 

The atmospheric Blue Ridge mountains are the backdrop for the whole series and the landscape lends itself to the deep mystery of Serafina’s world. Beatty’s lush descriptions and fully realized characters are what make this series suitable for both adults and older children.

My 11-year-old-daughter and I both felt that Serafina and the Splintered Heart was not as good as the first book in the series. There was quite a bit telling (vs. showing) in the characters’ reactions and emotions which interrupted the flow of the reading. Perhaps it was rushed to publication—Beatty mentions in his author’s note than he is working on a new series with new characters so maybe he was ready to move on when he wrote this last Serafina installment.

Despite this, it is a well-written story that kept my attention. Serafina is a quality series that I highly recommend. My daughter and I love to find books that we can share and we greatly enjoyed this series.


Rating: 4/5

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