I was recommended this book by my friend when I was quite young (maybe I was in second or third grade). My mum started to read the first book to me. However, by the time we got about halfway through, we were done. I was scared by some of the frightening situations and creatures the characters had to deal with and Mum was afraid of me having nightmares. So we got rid of the book. Many years later, I saw the book at the bookstore and I thought maybe I should try it again. I wasn’t disappointed. (Warning: Spoilers are contained for the series. Limit how much you read if you don’t want to know what happens).
Titles: Fablehaven, Rise of the Evening Star, Grip of the Shadow Plague, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, Keys to the Demon Prison
Author: Brandon Mull
Age Group: 5th grade and up
My rating: 2.5/4 stars
In the first book, simply titled Fablehaven, Kendra and Seth are invited to their grandparent’s house for the summer. They begin noticing odd things going on around the house and secrets seem to be floating through the air (literally). When they realize the true extent of their grandparents’ magical house, they get into more trouble than they were expecting. Much more. In fact, it might just be up to them to keep the people they love safe. I personally read this book through wonderfully. However, the beginning may be slightly slow and not super exciting at first for some. Just know that if you are having a hard time it really does get better.
Rise of the Evening Star, the second book, is an odd book. It provides a connection between the first and third books, almost like a bridge. However, do not mistake what I am saying. It is a perfectly good book, but simply lacks excitement in some parts. Kendra and Seth have had an uneventful school year. When they get involved with a man named Errol, who helps them get rid of a goblin-type creature in Kendra’s class, they are put into unnecessary danger and are carted off to Fablehaven once more. Apparently, Errol was working for The Society of the Evening Star, who seek to exploit precious magical creatures. A hidden artifact is somewhere on the preserve and they need to find it. Kendra is “fairykind” now, giving her many abilities, including the power to recharge the artifact once they find it. Sadly, while they are working with some of the most trustworthy people available, there is a traitor in their midst and nobody can ignore that fact for long. Once again, it might be up to Kendra and Seth to stop the powers at work against their beloved preserve.
The next book, The Grip of the Shadow Plague, was the most exciting so far after reading the first two. Not only does it have two story plots, but the risks are increased and the gamble for Fablehaven is climbing higher by the day. With the risk of The Sphinx being a traitor, our band of adventurers doesn’t know who they can trust. Kendra is requested to join The Nights of Dawn, a secret organization that works against The Society of the Evening Star. The problem is, The Sphinx might oversee both societies, making Kendra’s situation more dangerous and especially unpredictable. Kendra ventures to a preserve in Arizona to try and retrieve another artifact, only to discover that it has been relocated to Fablehaven already. Back at that dear place, Seth and their grandparents are facing the most difficult obstacle yet: a plague that turns all creatures to darkness. When Kendra returns, she and Seth must try to not only find the other artifact, but also destroy the plague at its very root. Sacrifices might have to be made and help might come from unlikely places.
Next, we have The Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary. I might be saying this a lot from now on, but this was the best so far in the series. I loved how it felt sort of like a competition between The Society and our heroes. There were tasks to overcome and places to go. Before their quest begins, Kendra is kidnapped by The Sphinx and must try to escape from him. The quest eventually starts with Kendra and Seth (who just can’t be let out of any adventure no matter what his grandparents say) reading a message from Patton, telling them how to get the next artifact: The Translocator. The message says that they need to retrieve a unicorn horn from the centaurs to open the gate to Wyrmroost. Wyrmroost is a secret dragon sanctuary where a key has been placed. This key will allow Kendra, Seth, and the rest of their team to retrieve the artifact from a preserve called Obsidian Waste. The question is, can they get to it before their enemies? The Sphinx has grown more resourceful and the stakes are steadily growing. I loved the action in this book, especially because dragons are amazing creatures to read about. I also enjoyed the suspense, which encouraged me to read. A quote that I really liked is this: “I hate how my past mistakes keep messing up my future options, Seth muttered. Then you’ve started down the road to wisdom, Grandpa replied.” (Mull 193)
The last book is Keys to the Demon Prison. Kendra and Seth are fully engaged in the battle to get the last artifact. Not only will this save Warren from his confinement, but can also hopefully counteract The Sphinx and save their mother and father. The Sphinx is surely their greatest opponent… Or is he? Secret underlying plots are being set into motion. On top of this, some of our party gets confined in The Sphinx’s prisons, something that he might not have control over much longer. Seth manages to befriend Bracken, a very special sort of friend. But no one can stop Seth from making a few horrible mistakes. His actions will force enemies to become allies to stop a horrible and likely demise. This book was a great ending to the series. Not only did it provide enough closure, but it was also action-packed.
The climax is usually the best part of a book. That’s where I personally loved these books the most. Some parts of them could seem slightly drawn out, but then I would get to the climax and remember why I was reading them. Overall, the fourth book was my favorite. Who doesn’t like dragons?