Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty
"Triumphant after her defeat of the Man in the titular Black Cloak in her 2015 debut, Serafina cannot rest on her laurels for long: a new, mysterious evil force has entered the woods and set its sights on the Biltmore Estate. Serafina has slipped into a comfortable routine at Biltmore. The odd-looking girl learns the ways of catamounts from her shape-shifting momma while continuing her cozy home life with her white adoptive pa, enjoys friendship with Braeden Vanderbilt, and maintains a vermin-free environment as Chief Rat Catcher. Suddenly, as a new terror surfaces in the woods, three strangers appear: a snooty British girl named Lady Rowena Fox-Pemberton, the scarred investigator Detective Grathan, and a terrifying gray-bearded man with a twisted staff. On the mountain, all the birds have fled, other animals have gone missing, and sticky black pinesap oozes from the trees. While Mr. Vanderbilt cooperates with Detective Grathan and Braeden entertains Lady Rowena, Serafina must unravel the mystery before all the animals disappear. Beatty delivers an action-packed, suspenseful, emotionally resonant sequel. Serafina's resilience and determination inspire and rally the other characters. Beatty continues to build a fascinating magical world, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Biltmore Estate developing beyond mere settings into characters themselves. Each place reveals history and clues to Serafina's life and those of other gifted, mysterious beings. Even better than its predecessor, a sequel that delivers nonstop thrills from beginning to end."
—Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW)
Serafina's defeat of the Man in the Black Cloak has brought her out of the shadows and into the daylight realm of her home, Biltmore Estate. Every night she visits her mother in the forest, eager to learn the ways of the cat¬amount. But Serafina finds herself caught between her two worlds: she's too wild for Biltmore's beautifully dressed ladies and formal customs, and too human to fully join her kin..
Late one night, Serafina encounters a strange and terrifying figure in the forest, and is attacked by the vicious wolfhounds that seem to be under his control. Even worse, she's convinced that the stranger was not alone, that he has sent his accomplice into Biltmore in disguise..
Someone is wreaking havoc at the estate. A mysterious series of attacks test Serafina's role as Biltmore's protector, culminating in a tragedy that tears Serafina's best friend and only ally, Braeden Vanderbilt, from her side. Heartbroken, she flees..
Deep in the forest, Serafina comes face-to-face with the evil infecting Biltmore—and discovers its reach is far greater than she'd ever imagined. All the humans and creatures of the Blue Ridge Mountains are in terrible danger. For Serafina to defeat this new evil before it engulfs her beloved home, she must search deep inside herself and embrace the destiny that has always awaited her.
Robert Beatty lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville with his wife and three daughters who help create and refine his stories. He loves to explore the grand Biltmore Estate and the darkened forest trails where his novels take place. Mr. Beatty's Disney-Hyperion novel Serafina and the Black Cloak became a New York Times Bestseller the first week it was launched. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, he was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative Magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year. When asked about the inspiration for his book, Robert said, "Serafina's journey grew out of my desire to write a story about an unusual and heroic young girl for my three daughters."