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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Got Milk? You're Going to Need It for Thrilling Fablehaven Adventure.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Imps, brownies, satyrs, naiads, fairies, blixes, even a golem, oh my! When 14-year-old Kendra Sorenson and her 11-year-old brother Seth arrive at their grandparents' estate, they have no idea that its grounds teem with mystical creatures. All they see is a sprawling mansion with no t.v. or Internet where they will have to stave off boredom while their parents live it up on a 17-day Scandinavian cruise. At least they can jump in the swimming pool or explore the lush, butterfly-filled gardens. Grandpa Sorenson has warned them away from the forest that rings the house, but his explanation seems fishy - ticks? For real? It's almost as if there's something else living in the woods. Something ... magical.

Always obedient, Kendra resigns herself to two weeks of painting, sunning herself by the pool, and trying to solve the puzzle her grandfather left for her. Leave it to foolhardy Seth to plunge right into the one place they're not supposed to go - the woods. His bumbling leads to a shocking discovery: Grandpa and Grandma Sorenson are the caretakers of Fablehaven, a sanctuary for magical beings. Residents of the preserve range from resourceful brownies to playful satyrs to bloodthirsty demons. Grandpa's restrictions are still in place: wandering through the place can be dangerous, if not deadly. Still, it's a land full of wonders. And secrets. Like, what's in the barn? Why do they have to stay hidden on Midsummer's Eve? And, where's Grandma Sorenson?

All the excitement becomes a little too much for Seth, a boy not known for his inhibition. One false step and he manages to unleash an ancient evil into the relative peace of Fablehaven. The centuries-old laws which keep it all in check have been broken. Danger lurks around every corner in a place where spiteful fairies use powerful spells to exact revenge, naiads lure unsuspecting visitors to their watery graves, and something as harmless as a wooden puppet can become a most terrifying foe. Now, the fate of Fablehaven, its caretakers, and every one of its dwellers is in the hands of two children. Kendra's never cared much for adventure; Seth likes it a little too much - can the pair of them rally enough courage and common sense to save the preserve, themselves and, quite possibly, the world? Or will they, too, become victims of the horrors that roam the grounds of a bewitching little place known as Fablehaven?

Children finding hidden worlds in seemingly ordinary places is not exactly a fresh literary device. Still, Fablehaven, the first book in Brandon Mull's popular series, proves that originality still exists in the world of fantasy. While we've seen satyrs and demons and fairies before, we've never met creatures quite like the ones that crawl out of Mull's vivid imagination. They're creative, fun, and rarely predictable. Not unlike this series. Fablehaven's humans need some fleshing out, its prose could use a polish, and a little pep wouldn't hurt the dialogue one bit. Despite that, the book's a fun, action-packed start to what promises to be a thrilling series. Clean, upbeat, and exciting, Fablehaven's one of those series that's sure to enchant all readers, be they children, adults or something in between. Just know that when entering a magical sanctuary, it's best to tread carefully, expect the unexpected, and, above all, drink your milk. Consider yourself warned.

(Readalikes: reminded me a lot of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, a little of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for fantasy violence

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Fablehaven from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain. Thank you!


  1. Keep reading! Brandon Mull learns as he goes and the books in the series are each better than the last!
    He really gets going in Book 3.

  2. Yeah! So glad you started one of my fave series.


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