A vivid and enchanting bit of Middle-Grade fantasy. The idea of a secret preserve for magical creatures ought to capture the imagination of most who get a hold of this. The imagery and descriptions were decent, and the unfolding intrigue propels you along at a steady pace. (Though, the occasional illustration doesn't hurt anything, in my opinion).
The author puts you in the head of a pretty unremarkable young girl, who's thought processes and maturity felt both believable and age-appropriate. A good degree of action is included, interwoven with subtle lessons in life, reasoning, and consequences -- which I thought made it particularly valuable in regards to the younger minds who may end up absorbing aspects of it.
My primary complaint being I found the younger brother to be relentlessly irritating, not to mention TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). Although, it can at least be said that his actions do consistently result in consequences.
This has been my year of introductions to series that have been around, but I hadn't read them. The first was the Percy Jackson series and now Fablehaven. For both of them I'm wondering why I hadn't read them before! I really enjoyed Fablehaven. From the summary you know that Seth and Kendra's grandparents run a sanctuary for magical creatures, but I love how that still unfolds as a mystery. It was fun watching them see what was really surrounding them in their granpa's garden. I felt Kendra's awe when had her eyes opened. Once they learn the truth the action takes off. What I really like during the second half of the book is that, in turn, first Seth then Kendra have to show courage and determination. It's great to see both a boy and a girl in strong rolls. That also means I can "sell" the book to both my boy and girl students. Also during this half my annoyance with Seth was gone as he stepped up and showed his strengths.
This is a great series for all type of readers - reluctant readers will love the action and mystery. Higher readers will enjoy trying to pull all the pieces together before the characters do. As the series goes a long I think these two aspects will only become stronger. It's clear that there is much more going on in the mystical world that what was shown in book one. A secret society was discussed, so I see them playing a big roll in later books. I can't wait to see what Kendra and Seth do in return. Their's is a story I'm excited to follow.
Final thought: Secrets, action and creatures - Oh my! :) Best stick-with-you image: The fairies in the garden Best for ages: 10+
The back jacket of this book features kudos from the author of Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo, a young adult fantasy novel in the same genre as Fablehaven. I have read, but have not posted reviews of, The Gateway to Foo, or its sequel, Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret, because it seemed such a shame to point out the flaws of a book series that could have been so much better*. Better, and more enjoyable, like Brandon Mulls Fabelhaven.
This is a light, easy read, squarely focused on 13 year old Kendra and her 11 year old brother Seth. They are left at their grandparents estate for a couple of weeks while their parents take a dream cruise. They have rarely seen their grandparents before, and none have ever been to the sprawling house and gardens that lie in the woods. Left with some strict directions from their aloof grandfather (stay out of the woods!!), the brother and sister quickly get into some mischief while exploring their mysterious surroundings.
They come to discover that their grandparents land is actually a sanctuary for magical creatures a haven for fabled beings. They delight in learning more about each of the creatures, especially the abundant fairies, until things turn a little chaotic and the darker forces on the land seek to take control. They have to work together as siblings, and draw closer to and earn the trust of their grandparents, to set everything right again.
I was surprised to find a reading guide at the back of the book; it brings up questions that I thought were a little too deep given the lighter weight of the book itself. Once I thought about it for a bit, though, I realized there were some valuable moral lessons in the book. Why do we have rules? Do they restrict us or protect us? How do we feel about being able to choose the actions, but not always the consequences? And some other themes on family and relationships.
Altogether, I think this was a very enjoyable book, and I look forward to the forthcoming books in the series.
*For just a word on Leven Thumps: I didnt LOVE it, mostly because I thought it was overly ambitious. So many characters, so many amazing and unique things about each of them. The different worlds ours and Foo. And what Foo is and how to get there and back. It was a little too convoluted for me, and I thought it suffered from wanting to be too much to too many people. Better to read the crisp, tight Fablehaven instead!
The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull is a wonderful children's series that will help fill the void since the last Harry Potter book. These books were recommended by Richard Paul Evans, author of The Christmas Box.
1.) The first book in the series is simply titled, Fablehaven. Fablehaven is a mystical game preserve for magical creatures.
"None who enter will leave unchanged"
13-year-old Kendra and her 11-year-old brother Seth think they are in for a boring two weeks at their grandparent's home in Connecticut, a home with lots of rules. Grandpa offers no good reason to stay out of the woods but he does promise terrible punishment - confinement to the attic playroom - if Kendra and Seth disobey the rules. Naturally, Seth goes into the forest and beyond. What waits for him is beyond his comprehension. Kendra meanwhile, takes time to unravel a puzzle Grandpa has given her, involving three keys that belong to three hidden keyholes in the playroom. These keys lead her to the discovery of "Drink the milk" - drinking the milk allows humans to see the mysteries that await in the forest.
Excitement and adventure allow the siblings to delve deeper into the secrets of Fablehaven. Grandpas has hidden much from them until they have proven they are the right sort of people to experience Fablehaven in its natural state. The plot of Fablehaven is fast paced, precise and perfect. It is a mesmerizing tale and the characters instantly turn into children the readers know and learn to love.
This is a wonderful book and I see great things on the horizon for Brandon Mull.
2.) Book number two, Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star. At the end of the school year, Kendra and Seth find themselves racing back to Fablehaven. Grandpa has invited three specialists - a potion master of Samoan ancestry who keeps lots of good stuff bottled up; a mystical creature trapper who has the strangest and most horrible roommates ever; and a magical relics collector with lots of cool tricks up his sleeves. The Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization is determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. the Evening Star is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world.
This book stands out for the exciting and colorful characters (on both sides) including the Sphinx who is always on the move; a gluttonous beast that will stop at nothing until he has eaten everything on his menu; plus fairies, imps, goblins, and an assortment of others, alive, undead, reanimated and even catatonic.
Will Kendra learn to use her fairy gifts in time? Will Seth stay out of trouble? Can they overcome paralyzing fear? This books picks up where the first book left off and it is just as good of a read as the first. Children of all ages will enjoy this book.
3.) Book number three, Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague. Kendra and Seth are only a few weeks from heading home from Fablehaven and starting school, when a new threat makes the likelihood of going home an impossibility. Creatures of light on the preserve begin to turn dark. Because of the new abilities Kendra acquired from the fairies in book one, she has become a target of the Society of the Evening Star is she returns home. As if that is not enough, she is invited to join the Night of the Dawn, an organization pledged to protect magical preserves. She travels on a secret mission to protect Fablehaven, as well as the other magical preserves.
This third book contains some of the best writing, action and story-telling of the series so far. Valuable lessons for kids and families are deftly woven into the story without being preachy. The action is even more intense so very small children may not be ready for this book, but tweens and teens will gobble it up. Here's waiting for book number four!