Fablehaven

 

Magical creatures once roamed the earth freely. But as belief in them began to fail they moved into magical preserves that now keep them and the rest of humanity safe. Preserves like Fablehaven.

Kendra and her brother Seth are under the care of their grandparents for a few weeks while they parents are off on a Scandinavian cruise. But their grandparents hae a secret. They are the caretakers of Fablehaven, a magical preserve of creatures forgotten by humanity.

While the preserve is not safe in anyway, if you follow the rules, the dangers are greatly reduced.

But when the rules are broken, a powerful demon begins to awaken. And if he regains his full power, he will destroy Fablehaven and everyone in it.

Now, its up to Kendra and Seth to save the world and the preserve from this dark force.

 

 

 

/*** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***\

**/** SPOILERS ARE PRESENT **\**

 

 

While the book itself is not amazing, the entire series that is, Fablehaven, is among the best I have ever read. It is written for a younger audience (4th - 7th) slightly below the majority of books I read, but the concept behind the series is what hooked me on it. I now consider it one of the best series I have ever read (up there with, The Hunger Games(Collins), and Heroes of Olympus (Riordan)), and Brandon Mull one of the better YA authors on the scene now.

Before we discuss the story, I would like to mention why I disliked this book more than any other in the series. The book takes FOREVER to get going. Nothing really important happens until Misummer's Eve, and even then, the book doesn't get super interesting for some time after that. Also, it has NOTHING to do with the remainder with the series beyond introducing the characters and settings.

As to Mull's writing in this one (yes, I don't normally comment on an author's writing style), the dialogue is incredibly childish sounding. A lot on one word conversations going back and forth, to the point where you want to skip the whole conversation. The way he tells events (especially at the beginning) is also kind of childish. Every action is described (which I can't stand) and every reason for every action along with it.

Beyond those issues, good book.

 

Now onto the analysis ...

 

Before anything else, I would like to say that vastly more enjoyed Seth's charcater in THIS BOOK, then Kendra's. When you are told to stay out of the woods, the first thing you should do is go into the woods. And not be a complete wus like Kendra was. While Seth's actions did cause some amount of trouble (like almost destroying the preserve) it made him more interesting. Especially considering, Kendra did nothing through the first half of the book.

Kendra's character on the other hand was completely unexciting. Everything had to be played by the rules with as little risk as possible. Thankfully, she made her desperate bid with the Fairy Queen and I thus enjoyed her just a little bit more.

And these very contrasting personalities of our protagonists made the first couple of books of the series more interesting. They were constantly at war over what should be done, with Seth wanting to go in and fight there way into whatever, and Kendra wanting to ensure that nothing happened to anyone.

 

NOW onto the story ...

 

As I mentioned the first part of the book is obscenely boring. Sure, they are at a house with beautiful gardens, and lots of insects and hummingbirds (which seem drawn to their own reflection). A weird lady is living in a shack in the woods. An awesome pond is hidden in the woods as well. And their Grandpa gave them a set of keys to find keyholes for. SOOOOOO?!?!

 

The book gets interesting when Grandpa Sorenson finally reveals the truth behind Fablehaven. That its a preserve full of magical creatures.

Wonderful idea, Brandon Mull, wonderful idea. Who would not want to read about a preserve full of magical creatures and demons. The concept is completely original, which made it fun to read (see Pendragon for more original stories) and the non post-apocalyptic setting made it different from so many other books of today. Good job Brandon Mull. Good job.

After that, the book picks up some speed. Some.

 

Maddox bringing in the fairies and his tales of trapping them vastly increased the excitement of the story since it caused Seth to trap a fairy of his own and change it into an imp.

First, I would really love to know why keeping a fairy indoors changes it into an imp? Second, why were there so mant imps at Fablehaven? It seemed like Muriel must have had like ten or so of them guarding her and the Forgotten Chapel. And why would the selfish fairies care so much that one of them was changed into an imp (yes, I know Grandpa said that they were afraid they would be next, etc.)? And finally, was Seth's punishment really necessary? And wasn't it a little over severe. They didn't have to turn him into a walrus.

So, this was the first case in which Seth's impulsive actions get him into trouble at the preserve.

But its trumped in comparison to his blunder on Midsummer's eve.

Everyone, EVERYONE, told him that it was not a joke. That it really was dangerous. But he still had to confirm it for himself. And his idea that it would be like watching animals in a zoo, is not entirely accurate. More like watching animals in a safari park where they are all running wild. While safer, its still dangerous.

And I guess he finally figured that out when the goblin got in and made off with everyone in the house. Hopefully, Seth learned his lesson that time. (Hopefully. (Hopefully. (Hopefully.)))

 

After that extravaganza, the story picked up considerably. The run from the ogress and the meeting of Newel and Doren was, I felt, somewhat overplayed. I don't think that the ogress was too terribly intelligent and Seth and Kendra probably could have gotten away without help from the Satyrs.

The Satyrs, on the other hand, are very fun characters. Goatmen who want batteries to power a television in exchange for gold. Now thats creative. And a good financial investment. Batteries cost like $10 for a pack of five. In returm you get thousands of dollars worth of gold. Seth really should hit them up on that and make himself the world's youngest, self-made millionaire.

 

And when getting back from the excursion in the forest, Kendra and Seth are met with a new problem. A giant cow. And it is described as quite giant. Now, why exactly they felt the need to milk the cow, I don;t know. I would have left it alone for the time being. But, never-the-less, they did decide to milk cow. Probably not, their better idea. Ol' well.

 

After that, we get into why the hell Grandma Sorenson was a chicken? (We learn in the next book, why?). I would assume that being a human mind in a chicken body would be give an interesting persepctive. Apparently, that persepctive is from a chicken.

Of course, changing her back into human form was a whole-nother excursion. This one, while inherently risky, probably was the best course of action. Grandpa has diabled one of Muriel's knots to return Seth to his human form. And that left only one knot. Which was subsequently used to return Grandma to a huan form. Of course, Seth and Kendra had tries other meens to get her to returm Grandma, but were told that Muriel would need the magic of a knot to do so. And so Muriel was free.

Now, why she didn't heed Grandma's warning to abandon the preserve? I don't know. Muriel was told that while Grandpa was out-of-comission, Grandma was the caretaker of the preserve. And I presumed that the Fablehaven treaty gave the caretaker considerable power over the preserves inhabitants. If you have read the remaining books, or just the next one, I would question why exactly Grandma didn't ban Muriel from the preserve using the register. But that's a different debate.

 

Now, with Grandma restored, the next course-of-action was to find Grandpa and Lena. And so they pay a visit to Nero the troll. As Grandma had said, the trip did turn out to be particulart safe. First, Seth tasks himself with jumping up a set of staggered logs, which he falls from at the top. Thanks to Nero Seth is still alive. Then, Nero wouldn't take anything less than massive amounts of money or a lifetime servent. Eventually, they wore him down to except a 90-minute massage in return for Grandpa's location. Honestly, that was probably one of the better deals they could have hoped for. Nero could have demanded money as payment.

 

With Grandpa's location, The Forgotten Chapel, in hand, we finally learn some of the more interesting facts about Fablehaven. Like they have a half of an attic devoted to weaponry. And there's some ultrapowerful artifact on the preserve that's one of the keys to the legendary demon prison. And that a powerful demon lives in the Forgotten Chapel where Grandpa and Lena are inprisonsed. So many fun secrets. Not to mention that the demon could overthrow the foundatinonal treaty of Fablehaven and plunge the preserve into darkness, making ever night a festival night.

(As well as the fact that Grandma is a "crack shot" with a a crossbow)

 

Now, off to the Forgotten Chapel. Of course, nearing the climax of the book, there plan was destined to fail (as long as Mull was planning on keeping with the traditional book plotline). And it didn't take too terribly long for it happen either. Of course Muriel and her giant limberjack, Mendigo, were there tryting to free Bahumat. Hugo attempted to reach Murile but was turned into a pile of dirt. Grandma Sorenson's crossbow shot missed a deadly area, ending up in Muriel's shoulder. And Grandma and Seth end up captured.

This leaves Kendra two three options. 1.) give herself up to Muriel 2.) run away and escape Fablehaven, leaving everyone else to die 3.) run away and try to find help.

Good thing for Fablehaven, she chooses option three.

 

But her "help" is definantly not average help. Kendra remembered Grandpa saying that a shrine to Fairy Queen was on the island in the middle of the pond. And maybe the all-powerful queen could help defeat Bahumat and save the preserve. Just one problem ... the last person to step onto that island turned into dandelion seeds. But there wasn't much choice was there.

Eventually, after battling the ever vicious naiads, Kendra made it to the island. And now for the moment of truth ... would she turn into dandelion seeds? Could the Fairy Queen help her? Kendra steps off and ... finds a small statue of a fairy at the center of island.

This statue speaks to her (through her mind) and tells her to have the fairies drink an elixir. After doing so, they would follow her and defeat Bahumat.

Unfortunately for Kendra, there is one more challenge, Mendigo. Muriel sent the puppet after her to bring her back. Good thing the pond is full of naiads. They apparently don't differentiate from a human and a wooden puppet near the water. And thus, Mendigo is no more. Or so we hope and think.

 

Withe the Fairy Queen's insructions, Kendra makes the elixir and gets the fairies to drink it. And they then turn into super sized fairy warriors. And go off to fight Bahumat and Muriel. Of course, when they are fulled sized and have the power of fairies, Bahumat is not much of a demon. The fairies, dispatch of the demon with relative easily and then reinprison it with Muriel beneath the former forgotten chapel.

Unfortunately, the fairies have the same belief that Lena, as a fallen naiad, should be taken back to the pond. And they do so. Even against Kendra's orders. (Which they were supposed to follow).

 

But the most important part has yet to happen. The one thing that carries over throughout the rest of the books. After returnin everyone (minus Lena) to the yard the fairies all proceed to kiss Kendra. This unknowingly turns her into fairykind. A very rare condition. And one with many useful abilities.

 

With that, Fablehaven has been saved for now. But Maddox warned that the Socity of the Evening Star is rising. Fablehaven will come under target again eventually.

Continue the story of Fablehaven with the next book, Rise of the Evening Star.