“For centuries mystical creatures were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary is one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite…
Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother must face the greatest challenge of their lives to save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world.”
Half the time I was reading this, I wanted to wring Seth’s neck out. That kid has a serious complex about authority. And I understand why author Brandon Mull wrote him to be that way, but… Well, all the conflict we come face to face with in Fablehaven happens because Seth is an infuriating git who doesn’t care to follow rules or orders.
Half the time I’m reading about Seth, I wanted to throw him off a roof. Or feed him to whatever unimaginably dangerous creature exist in the gated woods. Or lock him up inside one of the many rooms inside their grandfather’s house. And, to be quite honest, reading about Seth’s many, many, many instances of disregarding other people’s safety detracted from my overall enjoyment of Fablehaven.
Doing something out of curiosity is one thing. When you get turned into a deformed walrus, you don’t do anything more to infuriate the magical beings who can turn you into something worse. You start following rules. If the fear isn’t enough, the trauma should be. But what does Seth do? He decides he wants to see something scarier.
And that’s my main beef with Fablehaven. We have a hero, and I’m using that term very loosely, who just doesn’t know how to follow rules. A hero whose outright disregard for rules is barely punished. Seth is not a hero I want kids to be reading about.
But, the other half of the time, I was engrossed with Kendra. Kendra is boring, but she knows how to pay attention. Kendra isn’t adventurous, but she is more courageous than her brother could ever be. Kendra is the hero you want your kids to look up to because she knows actions have repercussions.
Reading Fablehaven was a chore for the most part. Combined with a character I actively disliked, I don’t know if I would want to recommend this book to anyone.
And yet… Brandon Mull shows off his storytelling skills when we finally latch on to Kendra as the true hero of the story. With Kendra, he weaves a magical tale about bravery because of fear, because of consequences, and because of hope. Once we focus on Kendra as our main character, the story becomes more bearable, and the adventure becomes more thrilling.
Mull’s writing of Kendra will make you want to pick up the sequel. Which I will be doing. Here’s hoping that there will be less Seth in the second book. Or, at the very least, I hope there will be a more mature or more reasonable Seth.
I must say… This is the most interesting collection of reviews I’ve come across so far.