After reading many wonderful reviews of the Fablehaven series, I decided it was time for me to give it a go. So I picked up Book 1, Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (368 pgs, Aladdin, 2007). It is my first selection for the 2009 YA Reading Challenge.
Kendra stared out the side window of the SUV, watching foliage blur past. When the flurry of motion became too much, she looked up ahead and fixed her gaze on a particular tree, following it as it slowly approached, streaked past, and then gradually receded behind her. Was life like that? You could look ahead to the future or back to the past, but the present moved too quickly to absorb.
Because an accident occurred in their family, Kendra and Seth's parents were forced to go on a cruise with relatives. This didn't leave a lot of options for the kids. They were going to have to spend 2 weeks with their Grandpa and Grandma Sorenson at their estate in Connecticut. The kids have never been very close to their grandparents because they were rather reclusive. In fact, they had never even been to their estate before. And neither of the children were looking forward to the visit.
But when they arrived, the estate was beautiful and a huge bedroom/playroom in the attic had been designated just for the kids. Grandma Sorenson was out of town visiting a sick relative, but Grandpa Sorenson was there to watch them. He gave them some specific rules to follow, and forbade them to go into the woods.
Apparently Seth was not one for following the rules, though, and at the first opportunity snuck out into the woods to see if he could find an adventure. What he found was a little more than he bargained for.
The Soreneson's were caretakers for a Magical preserve called Fablehaven. It was inhabited by mythical and magical creatures, both light and dark. Ancient laws kept order among the residents, including faeries, imps, satyrs, trolls and even a witch that was held captive under a spell. But Seth's impulsiveness got the better of him, and on Midsummer Night's Eve he caused the forces of evil to be unleashed and his Grandfather was taken captive. Can the children make things right, and bring back their Grandfather??
I'm not sure what I expected from this book. The storyline is very unique, and I loved the descriptions of all the magical creatures, especially the faeries. But I really think my expectations were too high, because I just didn't love this book. Maybe it's the mother in me, but I was extremely annoyed with Seth's lack of respect for the rules. I realize that he is at that age -- 11 -- and boys will be boys. I HAVE a boy that age, so I know. But he just kept getting into crisis after crisis. And didn't learn until too late that his actions would have deadly consequences.
The writing was a bit stilted, but by the end Mull had pulled it off. He did create a wonderful world in Fablehaven. He also left the reader with the knowledge that more is coming. A secret society is bent of destroying the preserve, and I'm sure that is where the series is going to go. All things considered, I think I will definitely read on and see what lies in store for Kendra and Seth in future books. I'm hoping that I will enjoy the next book just a little more. I do think the younger fantasy reader will really like this series. I'm going to pass it on to my boy and see what he thinks!! 3.75/5