Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague


Odd things are happening at Fablehaven. Creatures of light are being converted into agents of darkness. And no one knows how to stop it.

Meanwhile, the Knights of the Dawn have reconvened, and have inducted Kendra into their ranks. Now, with a mission to a secret preserve in Arizona, another artifact is at risk. And if Vanessa's acusations about the Sphinx prove true, he could be control of another artifact in no time.

But when the artifact proves to have been moved to Fablehaven by the legendary, Patton Burgress, the situation with the shadow plague becomes all the more important. With help from the Fairy Queen, the creatures of Fablehaven come up with a desperate gamble to save the preserve. A gamble that will cost somebody their life.

Can the shaodw plague be stopped? Will the artifact be recovered? Is the Sphinx a traitor?








This was my fourth favorite book of this five book series. Books, five and four took the top spots for their pure action and plot; while book two I found good for the action at the end and the many dangers encountered by the characters. But this one, I found much less enjoyable. Many of the character I like in boook two became shadows and didn't play a huge role in the book. Instead, I had to get used to another character, Patton Burgress, that would only be in this book and not in any others. That dissapointed me. Otherwise, I enjoyed the stakes in this book. An artifact on the line. Fablehaven on teh brink of collapse, AGAIN. Made the book interesting.


Now for the analysis ...


So, the book started off on a semi-illegal foot. At least, illegal in the eyes of Grandpa Sorenson. Seth is trying to get gold from the Satyrs again. The last time they had stolen gold from Nero and tryed to give it to him. This time, they insisted on goving him "free gold". I see how they viewed the gold as free, seeing as the nipsies were giving them the gold, which they could in turn do whatever with. The only problem, it wasn't neccesarilly there gold to take anyway. Newel and Doren were kind of forcing the nipsies to give them gold. And they told Seth, that they could very easily take the gold anyway. I completely see why the nipsies went to such lengths to keep them out of the hill.

Now the nipsies are interesting magical species. They are supposedly the smallest of the fairy species (even smaller than brownies). That could both be a blessing and curse. Where they are easy to step on, doing so would remove the rights of the treaty from the perpatrator. Then they are pretty much screwed. And it appears that they have quite a large amount of skill in excavating and building. Especially since they have a whole seven-part city hidden beneath a hill. Now, I would like to know why exactly the brownies would make an entry way big enough for Newel, Doren, and Seth to enter through. What's really the point for them.

Of course, when the Satyr's and Seth get to the nipsies, ready to take gold, they find that some of the nipsies have turned dark. Into something new. Something unknown. This is the first instance we see of the Shadow Plague. And it was a nice way for Brandon Mull to introduce the main plot line of the book.


When Seth gets home, and after a short meeting with Tanu and Warren, he tells Kendra about his excursion to the nipsies and his subsequent gold. Of course, Kendra had to follow her normal behavioral pattern and tipped off Grandpa about Seth's secret. This is now, like the fifth time that Kendra has told on Seth doing something he shouldn't be. Of course, it was wrong of Seth to being giving the Satyr's batteried for gold. But does she have to tell on him every time he does this. That charcater trait is one of the reasons I can't stand her character for the first several books of the series. Thankfully, it calms down in the last two books.


With Warren and Tanu's return to Fablehaven, Warren brings back news that the Knights of the Dawn are having a collective meeting for the first time in ten years. This wouldn't normally be news, except for the fact that, a) the Sphinx, possible traitor, is running the knights; and b) the commander of the Knights wants Kendra to attened. Of course, attendance is mandatory so she goes. And receives the fun task fo attempting to extract an artifact from the Secret Preserve in Arizona.

But a more pressing matter is brought up at the meeting. Warren asks one of the Lieutenant knights about the identity of the Commander. The knight, Dougan, says the Sphinx is not the Commander. LIES. I knew from there that the Sphinx was leading both the SoES and the KotD. Mull, didn't do the best job at concealing the Sphinx's identity, nor did Dougan. The outright denial of the Commander's identity was the main way I main my assumption. But I kind of expected it, after the events of the last book.


So now, with Kendra going off to Lost Mesa preserve, we are going to have some fun. Apparently, one team already went and failed. Now a second team was being sent to finis the job. Including Dougan, Kendra, Warren, and a possible dragon tamer, Gavin.

Nothing important happens on the preserve until the attempt up Painted Mesa begins. The mesa served the same role as the revenant at Fablehaven. To make access to the traps even more difficult. While, not as good of a guard as the revenant, it made things pretty difficult for the recovery party. It also acts the same as the Obsidian Tower at Obsidian Waste in book five. The makers of the keys definantly wanted to make it difficult to get to them.

So, eventually, eveyone makes it up the mesa, thanks to Kendra finding an only sometimes visible route up the rock. But of course, they get up the mesa the same time some spiritual rain ritual is going on. And so the fighting begins. Gavin proves early on that he can handle himself in a fight, using his spear well. The other adults knights end up fighting their own creatures while Gavin defends Kendra. During this battle, Kendra acquires a "souvenier" rain stick. At the end of the book, we find out that the stick as the ability to influence the weather. Very few are known to exist.

With that battle out of the way, they enter the mesa, their eyes set on the vault. This envolves jumping across some rocks. Avoiding a creature with knives as feathers. et cetera. Nothing too bad until the chokepods.

Here comes Mull's excellent imagination again. The cokepods apparently rupture on contact with ANYTHING. And then release a posionous gas that kills almost instantly. That is awesome. The Knights should get themselves some to protect key artifacts or places. It would be pretty daunting getting through a large number of those. Somehow, all but one of their party makes it through the chokepods and onto the real excitement. The dragon.

Here is where Gavin, or as we later know him to be, Navarog, comes in handy. He gets the dragon, Chalize, to let everyone through so long as no one looked at her. In a surprisingly out of character move, Kendra looks at the dragon and becomes transfixed. As she should be. But she does regather herself and manages to hold a minor conversation with the dragon. THANK YOU, FAIRYKIND.

And with that, only the vault remains. Hopefully, it was another panther. I was sadly, disappointed. The artifact had been taken by Patton Burgress. But he found the artifact a new home. A home at Fablehaven. Now, the quest at Fablehaven is much more important. For if it falls, another artifact will be stuck on the premises. And it will be nearly impossible for anyone friend or foe to retrieve it.


Meanwhile, back at Fablehaven, the condition affecting the brownies is spreading. To centaurs. To dryads. To satyrs, fairies, dwarves, giants ... and humans.


While playing with Menidgo, dark fairies attack Seth in the yard of the house, as well as Tanu and Coulter out by the Nipsies. After that, Tanu and Seth both witness Newel turn into a dark satyr. He proceeds to bight Tanu which turns him partially into a shadow. And so now, there is a real problem breweing. Not only have both Coulter and Tanu been turned into ... something. They have no idea what it is thats causing the plague. Or how to stop it.

But lets discuss some of Seth's abilities now (we also spend such a fun amount of time discussing Kendra's). When Tanu and Coulter both turn into shadows it is only Seth who can see them. Why?? I casually suspected that the revenant had some effect. And out friendly demon, Graulus confirmed my suspicion.

Along with his ability to see Coulter and Tanu as shadows, he was resistant to the magical fear emanating from the powerful demon Graulus. The demon was surprised by Seth's ability to overcome the revenant and decided to tell him so. And to provide some help. He said that a) removing naill had given Seth some abilites; like seeing shadows and an immunity to magical fear; b) the prisoner from the Quiet Box was the demon-prince Navarog; teh darkest of all dragons; and c) that the nail had binded with Kurisock and it was what was causing the plague.

All in all, a pretty succesful mission to one of the foremost demons in the world. And Grandpa had warned against going to see him. While it was still against their better judgement, there was no other choice. Quoting Patton, "when you have to jump; you jump.". Graulus proves to be helpful in the next book as well, before his ultimate betrayal we were expecting (don't tell me you weren't exepecting a betrayal).


It is after this that Kendra finally comes home. And we learn another one's of Seth's abilities. His ability to read and comprehend written text. The nail must have scarred him deeply if he has resorted to reading. And its funny since he ha ridiculed Kendra earlier in the book for the doing the same.

It appears that the rest of the family feels the same way about Seth's new reading ability, considering Grandpa asked if they needed to contact the police about such actions. Not yet. If in later years he picks up a book titled, Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull and finds out its about him; maybe. But not yet.


With that, the book get more interesting. Like when the Brownies fall to the plague and booby trap the house with weapons. That was a fun chapter. I do agree with Seth and Warren that pushing the rocking horse down the stairs was "awesome". I would give almost anything to see that scene in a movie. I can imaging the many arrows and axes coming careening down across the stairs. Warren should be lucky he remained alive in all of that mess. With the brownies now infected, the house is unsafe and the family must move to one of the safe havens left on the preserve, the pond.


It is at the pond that they all agree, going after the artifact that is now known to be on Fablehaven grounds should be a top priority. But they have to know where to get it. And so they ask Lena. While mentioned in the last book, the former naiad, now restored, played little part. This book is different. She reveals easily that the object, titled the Chronometer, is hidden in a safe that appears for one minute at a certain time each week, inside the Old Manor. But Seth, having visited the manor in the previous book knows that a dangerous whirlwind lives inside. He tells everyone so, but they agree that they must retrieve the artifact.

And so they go.

But Ephira is too powerful. She freezes everyone with magical fear before they even get up the manor's staircase. Good thing they brought Seth, Mr. I'm-Immune-to-Magical-Fear. He gets past Ephira and into the room with the safe. He unlocks it and finds the Chronometer, a large metal sphere with several buttons, inside. With everyone else now a shadow, Seth trys to see if the Chronometer can help him save everyone.

And he accidently brings Patton Burgress, the hider of the artifact, forward in time.


This is where all hell and shadow breaks loose. Together, Patton and Seth escape Ephira with the Chronometer. They reconvene with Kendra back at the pond. But before much else happens, Kendra reminds Seth fo his impending duel with the Centaur.

Patton, being the person he is, challenges Broadhoof as Seth's champion. He deals with the Centaur easily. Probably bringing much disgrace to the creature. Maybe its a good thing he would die in the Battle for the Nail.


Now, with the Centaurs back in place, Patton goes to the pond to converse with Lena. And in a couple of minutes, Lena bursts forth from the water, the Fairy Queen's bowl in hand. Now, with an excuse to go to the Shrine, Kendra and Patton, who is fairystruck, venture to the island in the middle of the pond.

But the naiadas are not happy. They hate Patton for dragging Lena back out of the water. And they hate Kendra for retaking the bowl from them. So their journey doesn't get very far. Until Lena decides to bait her sisters into trying to drag her back into the pond. That was a good idea. The rest of the naiads became completely distracted. I guess thats what they get.


With the way to the island secured, Kendra bentures to the shrine and returns the bowl. Upon its reurn she communes with the Fairy Queen. She tells Kendra that she can fasten a talisman powerful enough to destroy the nail and stop the Shadow Plague. But at a terrible cost. The shrine at Fablehaven would be forever destroyed. And the person who connected the talisman of light with the nail would die.

Taking Patton's motto, "If you have to jump; you jump" she agrees and the Fairy Queen harnesses all of the energy in her shrine and concentrates it into a small pebble; the talisman of light.

Now, why did the Fairy Queen destroy her shrine for the good of a mortal preserve? She claims it was for the betterment of her species. Many fairies had fallen to the plague. She also says that if the plague were to corrupt her, the entire world would be lost. I have a different theory. I believe the Fairy Queen thought that Kendra, Seth, and the rest of Fablehaven had an important role to play in saving the world. And if Fablehaven were corrupted and overthrown, the world would surely follow. And so she gave them the best chance they had to save themselves. The talisman of light.


And so, with sufficient means to destroy the nail. They set off. Kendra, in control of the pebble cast a shield of light around herself and many surrounding light creatures. This serve to deter many of the dark creatures who had been converted, as well as convert Coulter back from the realm of shadows.

But the power of light could only hold for so long against darkness. When they neared Kurisock's domain, the power of darkness began to overpower the tiny pebble leaving only Kendra and those in contact with her, immune to the plague.

This proves problematic when Ephira comes about and attacks Broadhoof, whom Kendra was riding at the time. The Centaur, caught between the two forces; light and darkness perished during the struggle. But got Kendra cose enough to the nail to finally succeed.

After playing bouncing pebble, the talisman of light makes its way to Lena who uses it to detroy the nail and the end plague. As it was described ... the forces contracted down to a single point, immesureable powerful before destroying each other. The talisman of light and the nail's power counteracted each other to the point of destruction.

The way they interacted may be very similar to how matter and the theoretical "dark matter" interact if they collide. Cancelling each other's forces out and destroying each other in the process. It serves as a teaching point; don't meddle in forces that control the world. Light and darkness are fundamental forces of nature and are not meant to be controlled. They do as they wish, and adhere to no one or no thing.


On that pleasant note, the Plague has been ended, reverting all creatures that it turned too their original forms. But the danger is not over. While everyone was busy counteracting the plague and saving Fablehaven from destruction, the Sphinx made his move.

He revealed himself as the leader of the Scoeity of the Evening Star. Now, the most dangerous man on the planet knows the secrets of the two feuding parties. And too his advantage, controls one of the artifacts of power.

With the balance of artifacts equal; 1 to 1, the Knights of the Dawn must not let the Evening Star gain any more power. For doing so could destroy the world.


See if the Knights of the Dawn can stop the Evening Star from gathering more artifacts in the penultinate book of the series, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary.