Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven book review by The Wayback List
Title: Fablehaven (Fablehaven #1)
Author: Brandon Mull
Rating: ****
ISBN: 978-1-59038-581-4
Genre: Young Adult - Fiction - Fantasy - Adventure - Magic
Source: Library

Summary: From Goodreads: "For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite... Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order amoung greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most."

Thoughts: I was very pleasantly surprised by Fablehaven. I was looking for a completely different book on the young adult shelves at the library when this one caught my eye. I had seen the cover many times before, but avoided picking it up because I assumed it was a Spiderwick wanna-be. This time, however, I decided that it might be worth taking a peek at, and brought it home with me.

Boy was I glad!

I found myself readily enjoying the story Brandon Mull put forth in Fablehaven, and am looking forward to returning to the library ASAP so that I can get my hands on the rest of the series.

I thought that Mull's characters were engaging and consistent. Seth was a very frustrating yet endearing younger brother, and Kendra's fears and concerns were very relatable. I remember being a lot like her at that age. Mull wrote them in very believable ways, and I was never jolted out of the story through thinking that a character had done something out of their nature. (One of my biggest pet peeves for a book.)

The fairies and other magical creatures in the books were both parts wonderfully fantastic and terribly creepy when they needed to be. This book might concern some very young readers, but I do not think that they would find it overly frightening. The book balanced the scary parts of the story with light-hearted scenes and characters who looked out for each other.

I appreciated that, even though Seth was the reckless, rule-disobeying character, it was obvious that Kendra still cared for her younger brother. Sure, they had their sibling moments, and there were times when she would threaten to tattle on him, but I never got annoyed at these moments like I have with some other young adult books. Instead, I felt like both Seth and the reader knew enough about what was going on to see that Kendra was coming from a place of genuine concern and not trying to "play mother" as the older sibling.

Another thing I appreciated was that there were genuine consequences for every action. Whatever that action may be, something reacted to it. Both positively and negatively.

Overall I would say this is a highly enjoyable read and I will definitely be looking in to the rest of the series.

Favorite Quote(s): 
- Grandpa became very serious. "None of these creatures are good. Not the way we think of good. None are safe. Much of morality is peculiar to mortality. The best creatures here are merely not evil." (page 80)

- "We did not really live, not like mortals. We dreamed." (page 91)

- "Evil likes darkness."
"Why is that?" Seth asked.
[...] thought about the question a moment before answering. "Because evil likes to hide." (page 284)

Discussion Questions: (Please note, though I do my best to keep spoilers out of my reviews, discussion questions are by nature for people who have read the book and may contain spoilers. Read them at your own risk! Also, if you are responding to one of the discussion questions in the comments below, please put SPOILERS at the beginning of any portions of your comment that might ruin the book for other interested parties. Thank you!)

- What did you think of Grandfather's way of seeing if his grandchildren were the right type of people for Fablehaven? Do you think his plan was a good one or a bad one?

- What did you think of the way the fairies treated Seth after he accidentally turned one of them in to an imp? Do you think his punishment was the right one?

- Why do you think Kendra was able to get through to the Fairy Queen?

- Do you think Lena is happy with her fate?

What do you think of the Fablehaven series? Do you like Fablehaven or Spiderwick better?

- Faye

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