Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Pages: 351
Genre: MG Fantasy
Pub. Date: June 7, 2006
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.  Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken -- Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good -- powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most."

Seth and Kendra are visiting their grandparents for three weeks during the summer while their parents go on an adults-only vacation.  Except their grandparents aren't your usual sort of grandparents. They live in a large house surrounded by a gate in rural Connecticut and own a lot of land. As time goes on, Seth and Kendra come to find that their grandparents are the caregivers of Fablehaven, a secret refuge for magical creatures.  Looks like their summer just got a little more interesting!  With a ton of mythical creatures like fairies, witches, imps and more surrounding their gates what could go wrong? Brandon Mull's middle grade debut, Fablehaven, is a fun romp through a fantastical world filled with lots of mythical creatures. Fans of Harry Potter as well as The Hobbit will enjoy this book the most.

Seth and Kendra are foils of each other in Fablehaven.  Kendra, the older sister, is cautious and thinks things through whereas Seth is rebellious and pushes boundaries.  Seth makes some seriously bad decisions in this book, but I realize that it was necessary to get the plot going.  He wanders off in the woods (which is forbidden!) and that's when he encounters his first magical creature. He also tries to catch a fairy, which ends up being a disaster, so needless to say, it was one thing after another for poor Seth.  Kendra is the older sister that often tries to help him get out of his messes, but I was happy to see her grow up a bit this summer, gain some confidence, and some courage on her own.

I loved that Mull made Seth and Kendra's grandparents very important characters in Fablehaven. It's not often we see strong relationship with grandparents in MG or YA literature, so this was a nice touch.  I loved how Seth and Kendra got to know them, the secrets surrounding Fablehaven, and so much more.

Mull created such a cool little world in Fablehaven. I loved the grandparent's old house, the large attic room, the surrounding estate, and the mysterious woods by their house.  Mull did a great job with world building. He also did an excellent job bringing all these mythical creatures to life. The Midsummer Eve scene, where the various ghouls, fairies, and other unmentionables are out for the night was downright spooky. When I was reading it aloud to my son, even I got a little freaked out!

There were some overly wordy parts as Mull's writing style does take a while to get used to.  To be honest, it read like a YA novel more times than not and it was a little darker than I expected; nonetheless, my son and I thoroughly enjoyed the start to the Fablehaven series. We are both hooked and can't wait to pick up book two. I love that I have found a series that I can read-aloud to my son and enjoy just as much as he can!

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