Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Published: June 14th 2006 by Shadow Mountain
Word Count: 75,178
Series: Fablehaven, book oneSource: paperback, own
My Grade: C+
Synopsis from GoodReads: For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite...
Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.
Fablehaven is a fun adventure for middle grade readers, full of imagination and mystery. However, while Mull is spot-on with the voice of his eleven-year-old character, Seth, I don't think he got thirteen-year-old Kendra's voice quite right. This may be because of age, but I think it has more to do with gender. Mull knows exactly how a boy thinks, what he acts like, and what he would say, and he displays this wonderfully through the mischievous but well-meaning Seth. But when it comes to voicing a young teenage girl, Mull only suceeds in making her come off as trite and two-dimensional. All the characters were surface level, with the exception of the elderly housekeeper Lena (who is complex because of the secret she holds), but it is particularly transparent in Kendra's case. And furthermore because she is the lead protagonist and are supposed to connect with her, I felt the shallow disconnection more sharply.
But overall the book is filled with mythical creatures and intriguing puzzles which are fun to try to figure out along with the two protagonists. Fablehaven has a great, if a bit predictable, premise. It is an ideal fantasy book for young readers who are just getting their feet wet in the world of young adult fantasy fiction.
Find it on Amazon: Fablehaven
Visit the author's website: http://brandonmull.com/