Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fablehaven–Brandon Mull


Prior to attending Teen Book Fest in Provo I had read eleven pages of Fablehaven, closed the book and mostly forgot about it. After meeting Brandon Mull I decided to give this one another go. What turned me off was the familiar opening and the realization that this was another urban fantasy. I picked the book up and began to read. It was several pages before my interest was piqued. It seems to me that Mull is a slow starter, which is not really a bad thing, but with so many books out there dying to be read I often give up a little too early. In the end I am very happy I picked this book back up.

It takes a while to get into the meat of the story, but when Mull begins to unravel mysteries and secrets the roller coaster ride never ends. There is so much packed into this book that it is hard to decide where to begin. The world of Fablehaven is our own world, usually this is not very interesting to me, however, Mull pulls it off like none other (ok, ok, maybe one other) I loved the idea of a world that used to be filled with magical creatures with human eyes slowly being closed to their existence over time. I loved the setting. Connecticut. Having just visited the state for the first time this summer I was entranced by the natural beauty. It was fresh in my mind and with Mull’s descriptions I was easily able to pictures the forests and streams of Fablehaven.

Mull intrigued me with the hints of sinister and evil creatures, his depictions of terrible monsters, and warnings to not peek out the windows on midsummer’s eve. At times the story can be dark, creepy, and bordering on scary. There were moments surrounding midsummer’s eve that I found my self tensely flipping pages to catch the next development. I was reading the book in a way a person watches a horror movie through the gaps in the fingers covering their eyes. Yes, it was that awesome.

Mull weaves in a cast of characters that are unique and interesting, if at times a bit flat or one dimensional.The main characters, the kids, were at once fun to read about, and a bit off putting. Seth can at times be very hard to like, and Kendra is a bit of a blank slate early in the series. These things do change in time, but they are very noticeable in the first book. I would have loved to know more about Grandpa Sorenson and Dale. But, the number of characters and their personalities definitely improves through the series. Especially with my favorite character, Hugo. Saying that might be a bit of a spoiler, but not much, you still have to figure it out. I especially liked Muriel and her jangling limberjack, it was an excellent way to tie the story together and bring it into the larger scope of the entire series.

The best part of this great story was definitely the ending. I have noticed that many fantasy stories aimed at young readers lack that epic feel. Even Harry Potter left something to be desired in the way of grandiose actions scenes that typify the genre. Fablehaven does not. The final battle, while small in scope, feels like a raging fight to save the world. I reveled in the good on evil action and the series of twists that made the story pay off.

Fablehaven is an amazing fantasy story, it has everything one could hope for in a roaring good tale. A little bit of horror, a lot of action, magic, demons and witches and a pressing sense of danger.


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