“The only way out is through.”
– Serafina and the Seven Stars, by Robert Beatty
“Serafina and the Seven Stars” is the fourth, and likely final, book in the Serafina series. After Serafina’s victory against the man in the black cloak, Uriah and his twisted staff, and the evil storm creach, an unusual sense of peace seems to fall upon the Biltmore Estate and it’s inhabitants. However, Serafina’s cat like instincts warn her that that peace is not to be trusted and danger may still be afoot. When her best friend and battle partner Braeden departs from the Estate to attend boarding school in New York, the ever vigilant Serafina is left on her own to defend the innocent people of the Biltmore. As terrifying creatures slowly invade the Estate and it’s grounds, Mr. Vanderbilt invites Serafina to move up to a grand room on the second floor so that she may better protect the Biltmore’s owners and guests. However, the creatures seem to attack and kill in strange and viscous ways. Serafina worries that she may not be able to defend against such elusive and mysterious creatures on her own. Additionally, Serafina begins to question her own mind and sanity as the things and people that she had always known to be good suddenly come under suspicion.
Though I enjoyed this book, I have to admit that it is probably my least favorite in the series. However, after reading several other reviews on this book, I have come to realize that my opinion may be the minority. Many other Serafina fans seemed to love this book just as much, if not more, than the other three. Since I have such conflicted feelings about this book, I think that the best way to approach this review is to discuss the things that I disliked separate from the things that I liked.
So, what didn’t I like about “Serafina and the Seven Stars?” Throughout the Serafina series, we have come to see Serafina and Braeden as an unbreakable team. However, because his uncle persuades him to attend boarding school in New York, Braeden is absent for most of this book. The temporary separation of these two heroes seems only natural. I mean, two people can’t be with each other 24/7 can they? However, I did not feel that Beatty filled the hole that was left by Braeden’s departure. Furthermore, in reading the other three books in the Serafina series, I have come to expect a quick jump into excitement and drama that this book did not provide until it’s final chapters. This is not to say that there weren’t any exciting events occurring throughout this book because there definitely were. I just didn’t feel that these moments were up to the same caliber as those in the first three books.
During her time alone, I wanted to see Serafina step up and show what she could do to fight against the evil creatures in the Estate on her own. I expected Serafina to face challenges of course. However, I had hoped that she would have been able to uncover a bit more of the mystery surrounding the creatures on her own than she did. In fact, throughout much of this book, Serafina seemed almost aimless and lost. The mystery of the invading creatures didn’t really come into focus until Braeden returned to the Biltmore to help fight the final battle. The feminist in me was a bit disappointed. I’m not saying that I wanted her to do everything alone. Admittedly, I was happy that Braeden returned for the final battle. However, I think that Serafina is more capable of solving mysteries than this book gave her credit for. I mean, just look at all the sleuthing she did on her own in “Serafina and the Black Cloak. “
Serafina was introduced to a new friend in this book, Jess. Jess was this bad ass chick who could shoot like a pro but who loved animals too much to ever harm an innocent thing. I loved Jess’s character. However, I feel that this book could have been much more interesting if Beatty had brought her into the story even more. Jess was included in one of the first groups of people to be attacked by the creatures, causing her to go missing in the woods for most of this book. Like Braeden, Jess returns towards the end of the book and was an integral part of the Estate’s defense in the final battle. Again, I was happy that she returned for the final battle. I jut wish that she would have had a bigger role to play throughout the story.
I was really frustrated that Beatty never explained the source of Braeden’s animal powers. Additionally, Serafina’s new elemental powers from book three never really came into play in this book. As the (likely) final book in the Serafina series, I expected answers. I mean, magic powers don’t just pop up out of nowhere do they? Where did he get his powers? How long has he had them? Regarding Serafina’s power’s, what is she able to do now? Did the powers that she received during her time spent as a spirit disappear or did she simply chose not to use them? Have her powers grown or are they the same as they were in the previous book? I WANT ANSWERS.
Lastly, though I loved the idea of basing this book around astronomy and constellations, I felt that there was something missing. Maybe it is because the villain’s from the first three books were more tangible, having names and faces and bodies, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the “evil” element in this book. The Seven Star constellation gave a spirit to the stone statues of the Biltmore, making them come alive. Additionally, the statues were imbued with a reflection of the Biltmore at the moment when the constellation was in the sky. This is what created their murderous tendencies. Because the statues were all so different in appearance and attacking strategies, it seemed that Serafina was chasing her tail throughout most of this book. As I mentioned before, she never really made much headway in identifying and fighting the creatures until Braeden returned. Unlike the first three books in the series where Serafina actively follow a trail of clues, most of this book seemed to depict attacks happening all around Serafina while she had no clue how to stop them. Without a trail to follow, she seemed much more like one of the victims instead of the heroine that she is for much of this book. Finally, the fact that the constellation reflected on the water brought the statues to life creates a lot of plot holes. Maybe I missed it in my reading, but how often does that constellation pass in the sky? The water element at the Estate is always there, so it seems unlikely that a similar debacle has never happened before and will never happen again. I also must ask, what are they all going to tell the police and the families of the fallen victims? It seemed outrageous to me that no officers came to assist in the battle or came to inquire about the deceased and missing guest.
Now, what did I love about this book? As I said before, I loved the idea of basing this book around a constellation. I am a huge nut about space and astrology, so this idea was right up my ally. Even though I feel that this created some problems in the story, I still think it was an enjoyable part of the plot that added an element of mysticism and magic.
The energy towards the end of the book is the same energy that I wished the book carried throughout all of its pages. The final chapters of this book were action packed and full of the same excitement that we have grown accustom to with this series. Serafina’s father and her friend Essie were finally able to see her in her black panther form and to love her for who she truly is. Her father’s silent recognition brought tears to my eyes, as it was such a tender moment and very much according to his character. I was relieved that as the series ended, Serafina was finally able to be truly seen and loved. It was such a major transformation. In the first book Serafina is forced to hide in the shadows, but now she is able to walk out in the open in her true form in front of the people she loves most. Throughout this series, Serafina went through a beautiful journey coming to LEARN herself, to ACEEPT herself, and to allow herself to be SEEN and ACCEPTED by others. I feel that this book ended her journey gracefully.
My absolute favorite thing about this book was that towards the end, the statue of the angel in the angel’s glade was brought to life. Unlike the other statues, the angel defended Serafina when she was brought to life. As seen in the previous books in this series, the angel already had a spirit and a magic that was all her own. Therefore, she was not able to be controlled by the power of the constellation. The angel had always been a stone comfort, protector, and a symbol of strength and perseverance for Serafina. It only makes sense that the angel would come to help her fight the final battle. After the battle was won and all of the statues returned to stone, the angel remained alive. She kissed Serafina and then disappeared. This introduced several questions that I am happy to ponder rather than to have answered. Was the angel a real angel that had been trapped in stone? With the angel’s magic gone, will she continue to aid Serafina in protecting the Biltmore? I guess now we will never know.
Up Next: “All The Bright Places,” by Jennifer Niven 🎭
Have you ever read this book? If so, what did you think about it? Would you like to recommend a book for me to read? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this post, please like, comment, and follow.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM