Book Reviews Tell Me What to Read

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

I am deeply regretting that I didn’t read Fablehaven before I was a librarian. Funny, clever, and fast-paced, with normal children plunked suddenly in the middle of an intensely magical world, this would have been a great recommendation for the (enormous number of) kids who loved fantasy. 

Kendra and Seth are going to spend a few weeks with their grandparents while their parents go on a cruise. These grandparents are rather reclusive, but have agreed to watch them.

When they arrive, they find themselves really enjoying staying there (although, mysteriously, the grandmother is absent). The grounds are beautiful, their grandfather is kind and interesting, and there are all sorts of amazing things to keep them entertained.

And then, they discover that their grandparents’ home is Fablehaven, a sanctuary for magical creatures, both good and evil, to protect them from extinction. There are a number of these sanctuaries around the world, with caretakers for each one. Their grandfather is the caretaker of Fablehaven and he keeps the creatures living in some sort of harmony, and enforces the rules that bind them all. 

But on special occasions, the creatures are allowed to mingle and come up near the house and during that time, the family must retreat inside in order to stay safe. The grandfather warns them that the creatures will try and lure them out, but they absolutely must stay within their room and in their beds.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story if they didn’t break the rules, now would it? And that’s when the action really picks up.

When I announced this book as the winner (in October. . .), Mary commented that she liked the book, but one of the characters was extremely annoying. It took me approximately ten pages to nail Seth as the one she’d been referring to. I just have no tolerance for willfully stupid characters; Seth really really really strained my patience.

There have been so many fantasy books published in the last decade or so, many of which I think are pretty rubbishy. This one, however, is excellent – a great premise, plenty of action, and many clever details. Once I started this one, it was easy to keep reading.

I’m not even particularly a huge fantasy fan, and this one is one I enjoyed from start to finish and that I’ve continued to think of fondly even months after closing the book (yes, I really did finish it that long ago. . . ).

Copy checked out from my local library

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  • Reply Strong Family - March 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I have the rest of the series if you want to borrow them. 🙂

  • Reply smalldog March 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Rubbishy might be the best adjective ever.

  • Reply Karina March 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Maybe because I have an 11-yr-old boy, I don't find Seth that annoying 😉

    I'm not a fantasy fan either, but we are loving reading this series together.

  • Reply girlseeksplace March 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I don't normally like fantasy, but this sounds good. I may have to give it a go.

  • Reply Jenny March 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    We liked this book too, although I never started any of the other books, but my kids really liked them.

  • Reply Peaceful Reader March 1, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    I loved the first and second books and need to make time to read the third and fourth books. I love the magical farm land with fairies flitting around the garden!

  • Reply Ben and Summer March 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    So what rating would you give them? I liked the first 3 books and LOVED the last 2 in the series. I felt like the author got a lot better as he went along, and the whole series is just delightful! There's even a little romance (but not too much!) in the last couple to prick your interest.

  • Reply Lindzie March 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I really liked this series. Good stuff!

  • Reply emandtrev March 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I'm glad you liked it! I think I nominated this one a few times too. I am usually not a fantasy lover (at all), but I really liked the Fablehaven series. My 11-year-old niece brought me the first book and asked if I was interested in reading it, because she loved it. I thought that was great.

  • Reply Chelsea March 2, 2011 at 2:15 am

    I really enjoyed it too! I'm in between books 4 and 5.

  • Reply Miriam March 6, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I just read these this past year – I really liked them!

  • Reply Marsali February 2, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I actually really enjoyed how realistic Seth and his consequences were. I read this series around the same time as The Mysterious Benedict Society series, and the comparison really struck me: the two series each treated adults, obedience and consequences very differently.
    In Mysterious Benedict Society, adults would instruct the kids to “Stay here, this is dangerous”, but the kids always “knew better” better essentially, and disobedience often times ended up being the right thing for the kids to do.
    In contrast, I LOVED how Seth made normal human mistakes (being curious, stubborn or prideful), oftentimes disobeying the adult/parent figures. However, every time he disobeyed, they was a negative consequence, or a natural, logical result. Throughout the series, Seth sees the negative results of his disobedience, often times expressing remorse.

    For that reason, I have really enjoyed Seth’s character in the Fablehaven books, and I’m looking forward to reading the series with kiddos when they’re older.
    Thanks for your great reviews!!

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