Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A faery refuge in a modern world

Thirteen-year-old Kendra and her eleven-year-old brother, Seth, must stay at their grandparents' house for what they think will be a very dull two weeks while their parents go on a cruise. Their grandparents are a bit mysterious - they rarely visit, and Kendra and Seth have never been to their house before. Their grandfather sets out certain rules that must be followed during their stay, rules that include absolutely no going into the woods that surround the house, which is on an enormous, wooded estate.

Seth immediately breaks the rules, goes into the woods, and meets a frightening old woman. This experience leaves him shaken but still disinclined to comply with any rules. Kendra, on the other hand, takes her grandfather's advice and solves a series of small mysteries that lead to a huge revelation: her grandparents' estate is populated by faeries, pixies, and many other magical creatures. Kendra and Seth learn more about this magical refuge, which is not without its dangers - especially on Midsummer's Eve. Their grandfather sets out very specific rules for this night, which is one of the most dangerous of the year. If the children cannot follow these rules, disaster will ensue...

This is exactly the kind of book that appeals to me, and I wanted to love it. There were indeed many things about it that I enjoyed - the idea of a magical refuge, the realistic depiction of Seth and Kendra's relationship, and the many creative magical details. My main problem was Seth - I completely lost sympathy for him because he was selfish and annoying, and he never learned from his mistakes. Kendra was fairly wishy-washy, a very reactive character, never really taking control of things. The grandfather struck me as an incompetent caretaker - his grandson clearly is unable to handle responsibility, yet he is continually placed in situations in which he can (and does) do great harm. Who on earth would entrust something so precious to these people? I also had problems with the dialog - it was often unrealistic, sounding like something no real person would actually say. For example, the grandmother says things like, "In pursuit of endless carnage and unlawful dominion, they clashed anciently with good humans and creatures of light." All these things kept throwing me out of the story so often that I stopped caring what happened.

I know that many people love this book, so I may be the only one with these issues. While there were elements I enjoyed about it, with all the books in my pile and on my "to read" list, I think I will give the rest of this series a pass.

Books in the Fablehaven series:
  1. Fablehaven
  2. Rise of the Evening Star
  3. Grip of the Shadow Plague (due to be published in April 2008)
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, illustrated by Brandon Dorman (Aladdin Paperbacks, 2006)

8 comments:

  1. Have you seen the promo video for Brandon's new novel The Candy Shop War.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=xkOna6wCuiQ

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  2. I have a feeling that would drive me nuts too.

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  3. OH....I'm sorry to hear this. Fablehaven is on my list of books to read next year!!

    Oh well...I'll probably still give it a try.

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  4. I'd definitely give it a try - you might enjoy it more if you're not going to it with huge expectations. Sometimes the build up is just too much!

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  5. Aww, sounds like a great idea poorly executed.

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  6. Yes. Maybe the subsequent books get better? I just have too many others to read to take time out for another one of these. Unless anyone cares to convince me otherwise?

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  7. While I liked the book, I found that most of the characters had pretty nasty qualities. I don't think anyone was very trustworthy.

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  8. I think I had that same problem much of the time. I prefer a book where I identify closely with at least one character. Have you read the others in the series?

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