Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MINI REVIEW: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (Fablehaven #1)

Author: Brandon Mull
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Fantasy

4/5 stars
PG: Mild fantasy action/violence; monsters and other frightening mythical creatures
Recommend to fans of The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Ever Afters, Artemis Fowl, and their ilk. Good middle grade read, but still enough plot and character development for older readers -like me!

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. via Goodreads

The Mini Review:
There is so much to love about the Fablehaven series! Like the beloved Spiderwick Chronicles, it takes modern readers back into the beauty and majesty of folk lore, when so much of it has become rebranded as 'fairy tales'. Unlike the Spiderwick Chronicles, however, Mull's series is an epic journey fit for growing voracious readers to devour.

One of my favorite things about Fablehaven has always been the relationship between main characters Seth and Kendra Sorenson. The brother and sister ACT EXACTLY like the best and worst of siblings. They're there for each other when it's needed, but they also don't want the other to find out about anything stupid they've done, because they know they'll never live it down. They're sometimes petty with each other and sometimes each other's greatest defenders and that is a sibling relationship in a nutshell. Mull does a fantastic job writing it.

Seth and Kendra are polar opposites. Kendra is cautious and careful and the goody two-shoes I was at that age, while Seth is mischievous and adventurous and a serial rule breaker. Each one sits at either end of the scale, so everyone who reads this is going to relate to one or the other.

The story is fun and exciting, but it has substance, too. This first book is a great romp, but most of the adventure is a great illustration of cause and effect. Decisions and consequences. While Mull doesn't beat you over the head with the underlying moral fiber here, the characters definitely learn a good lesson about accepting responsibility and consequences for their actions -the hard way, because where's the fun in learning the easy way?

Plus, MAGIC! FAIRIES! GOBLINS! OGRES, TROLLS, NAIADS, GOLEMS, WITCHES, BROWNIES, SATYRS, AND CENTAURS! OH MY! Every mythical creature you've ever heard -plus a few that you haven't- show up in this series and Mull has wrought an interesting and complex world on the grounds of this magical preserve, held together by the laws and bargains of old magic. Creatures of both the light and the dark inhabit the preserve and never fail to make life interesting. A great call back to classic folklore is Mull's insistence that, just because a creature is of light or dark, doesn't necessarily mean they're 'good' or 'evil' -and humans are still a favorite plaything.

With an upbeat tone and fantastic new creatures around every corner, Fablehaven is a downright fun story and I'm finding it even more enjoyable on this reread.

Have you read Fablehaven?


  1. For some reason I've always liked this cover- it just looks so mysterious with the sylvan look and the faerie creatures. I love the sound of the diversity of creatures- naiads? Brownies? Yes please! And the laws of old magic- governing the place. Plus the fact that the fae are not just "good" or "evil" per se. This would seem to hit a lot of the right buttons for me in terms of folklore creatures. :)

    1. I really love how Mull uses the folklore creatures because he doesn't just fallback on the stereotypical forms, he tries to make them his own based more off classic characteristics. It's an excellent series.
      Isn't the artwork gorgeous? I love Brandon Dorman's stuff; never ceases to amaze.

  2. This one looks so fun! I haven't seen it before but I think my son and I would both love it. I like that you put it's great for middle grade but older kids would enjoy it as well. He enjoyed Artemis and he's going to start high school next year. Plus look at all those awesome magical creatures! Fantastic review :D

    1. Thanks, Jaclyn, I'm glad the distinction helped! I hope you both love it. Fablehaven is a big deal where I live (in state with the author) and whole families will read them together or on car trips. Actually, everything by Shadow Mountain that I've had the pleasure of reading is the same way -good for all ages. They're probably my favorite publishing company. ^_^

  3. I'm not reading high fantasy now but I'm sure I will one day so I'll keep this one in mind. I love stories with good siblings relationships :)

    1. I hope you do! Things just got pretty intense in book four; I adore the sibling relationship even more now! ^_^