YA Friday: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Friday, February 25, 2011

I have decided to start a Weekly Thing on my blog (my first ever!). I have always considered this blog to be eclectic - I read so many different genres of books that I could never specialize in just one. While I enjoyed YA before I started blogging, I generally did not read it. However, since joining the blogosphere, I have come into contact with many fabulous YA bloggers that have recommended many fabulous YA books. I've been reading much more YA and middle grade books lately. While I still don't consider YA and middle grade to be my primary reading fare (YA is like a delicious dessert after a satisfying steak dinner of classics), I definitely want to spread the word about the great books I'm discovering. So henceforth, at least for a trial run, Fridays at The Story Girl are designated YA Friday and I will review my most recent YA reads.

So without further ado...

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull is about a brother and sister's visit to their grandparents mysterious home. Grandma and Grandpa have always been elusive, never coming to visit together or allowing family members to stay for long, and Kendra and Seth, their grandchildren, are nervous about spending several days alone with them. Soon, they discover that their grandparents' estate is actually Fablehaven, a reserve for mythical creatures. While fascinating, many of these creatures are dangerous. After a terrifying turn of events, responsibility falls to Kendra and Seth to save their grandparents, the reserve, and possibly even the world.

was recommended to me by a friend who had attended an author signing with an index card, because she didn't have enough money to purchase the books. When Brandon Mull saw her index card, he pulled a copy of Fablehaven off his stack and generously gave it to her, free of charge. :) She loves to say that he made a wise financial decision that day, because she bought the remaining four books in the series and recommends him to everyone she meets.

I was quite pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Fablehaven. Because it is a middle grade book, I worried that it would be overly simplistic or cheesy. However, the plot was fascinating and kept me spellbound. I usually read when I work out, but I didn't with this book because it was my friend's signed copy. Therefore, I only had time to read little bits of it at night, and I always read more than I intended to read. The world Mull has created is unique, and he reveals it slowly, tantalizing the reader with glimpses that are often left unexplained for a few pages. At times, the more sinister mythical creatures totally freaked me out, which is something I love in a book. I would be reading late at night after work and freak myself out so much that I was scared to walk in the dark hall to my bedroom.

I also enjoyed the characters. Kendra and Seth, the main protagonists, are very different and have a very typical brother/sister relationship. They get on each others' nerves and enjoy getting the other in trouble. Kendra is too cautious, afraid to get involved in the magic of Fablehaven, and Seth is too impetuous, meddling far too much with the mythical creatures and making dangerous mistakes in the process. Both of them undergo some development as they are challenged and tested. Seth learns to be more careful and considerate, and Kendra is forced to face danger in order to save her family. I enjoyed this realistic portrayal of two young children becoming heroes.

The writing also vividly portrayed the magical world. I really like descriptive books. I like to be able to completely picture the scene before me, and Mull does a great job of painting a compelling portrait without weighing down the writing with lengthy descriptive passages, which would probably be fatal in a book aimed at middle grade readers. I loved the descriptions of the different varieties of fairies - from a furry blue one to one that looks Asian, there are dozens of varieties described. I also particularly enjoyed the description of Muriel Taggart, although it was anything but beautiful -
Her long, white hair was matted and had a sickly yellowish tint. One of her filmy eyes was terribly bloodshot. She was missing teeth, and there was blood on the knot she was chewing, apparently from her gums. Her pale arms, bare almost to the shoulder, were thin and wrinkled, with faint blue veins and a few purple scabs.
She makes an excellent witch.

My one complaint about the writing is that the dialogue was occasionally cheesy and seemed a bit forced. At times, when Kendra and Seth were learning something new about Fablehaven, the grandparents would just say something along the lines of "That's okay, we'll talk about it later." I think the story would have flowed better if the children could have had their questions answered when they were asked. Putting the explanation off was occasionally confusing, and just seemed a little awkward to me.

But in general, a very enjoyable read. I am planning on finishing the rest of the Fablehaven series at some point, although it may take me quite a while to get there! I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers or someone who just wants a quick, adventurous little escape.

Readability - Easy read.
Plot - 4
Characters - 4
Literary merit/Aesthetics - 3
Personal Response - 3
Overall: 3.5


  1. Kathryn sent me over - we LOVE Fablehaven in our house! We lived in Utah when they first came out, so they were a big deal, but here in Texas not many people have even heard of it. So sad.

    Adding you to my reader this instant.... ;)

  2. @Rebecca - Thanks! Kathryn is the best. I am looking forward to reading more of the Fablehaven books, as well as his new series that is coming out in March!

  3. Very cool weekly post! I'm a sucker for YA lit. :)

  4. @christina - Thank you! I'm enjoying it more all the time.

  5. Saw your sister's blog mentioned on FB and found your blog mentioned in hers. My kids and I love the Fablehaven series! For us it's up there with Harry Potter for favorite series... well, my son Prefers Eragon more than both, but they are next on his list. We had quite a few books to sign when Mr. Mull came to our Idaho Falls Barnes and Noble last year! He was very nice!

  6. @Jeanne - that is good to know that Brandon Mull is very nice, I am probably meeting him this month! He has a new book coming out in March and I should have a review up for it in a few weeks. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...