Monday, April 12, 2010

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Brandon Mull has created a fantastic world so vivid and plausible that part of me believes that I might stumble across it in the woods. Now if I can just get him to tell me where the magical sanctuary is located…

“It’s a lucky book that can hold this kind of story.” –Obert Skye, author of Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo. Well said and I echo this recommendation. Where else can a reader find barn-sized bovine, golems made of dirt and chickens that turn out to be your grandma?

What I liked:

Traditional creatures of mythology are given fresh life and sometimes a little twist in this fairy tale. For instance, helpful Brownies who repair broken furniture will also whip you up a tasty treat if left the proper ingredients (brownies anyone?).

Reading the story is effortless; the prose is intelligent and flows naturally, creating pictures in my mind. The gazebo dotted park, the playroom in the attic, and the witch’s ivy house come to life with all the clarity of a full-length movie (can’t wait to see Fablehaven on the big screen!).

Kendra is obedient and cautious, and her brother Seth is curious and generally disregards rules. It interests me that both of them get into trouble as a result of their obedience/disobedience.

The interaction between the siblings is realistic and entertaining:

“While Seth was swimming underwater, Kendra picked up the mirror. When Seth surfaced, she made sure the bright splotch of sunlight covered his face.

‘Cut it out,’ Seth called.

‘You don’t like that?’

‘Quit it’…

‘I bet it already did permanent damage to your retinas.’

‘I hope so, then I’ll sue you for a billion dollars.’

‘Good luck. I have about a hundred in the bank. It might be enough for you to buy some eye patches’”(page 22).

There are some intense moments in the book, scary enough to want to snuggle under the covers, but not gruesome or gory. I have to admit I was a bit creeped out by the freaky wooden puppet and the specter who pretended to be a crying baby outside the playroom window.

All of the elements of fantasy are here: fairies and demons, adventure and peril, magic and restrictions, evil and good.

What I would change:

I have no suggestions. To me, Fablehaven is the perfect middle grade fantasy novel.

I love that families can read this book together. Small children will be captivated by the story and adults will enjoy the rich fantasy world.

Fablehaven is on my all-time top ten list. It’s just the type of book I wish I had thought to write!

I gave this book 5/5 stars.

Purchase: Fablehaven (Boxed Set): Fablehaven; Rise of the Evening Star; Grip of the Shadow Plague
Genre: fantasy, middle-grade
Publisher: June 14th 2006 by Shadow Mountain
Hardcover, 356 pages
Where I got the book: Barnes and Noble store
Food to eat while reading: Fairy Touched Calico Brownies


  1. Hi, great review-- I've read and loved all the Fablehaven books-- can't wait for the next one!

    Wouldn't it be great to visit a sanctuary?!


  2. Just wanted to say that I (we) LOVE fablehaven too. I just finished reading out loud to my tow oldest, and then my oldest immediately read it again to herself. Awesomesause.


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