Sep 4, 2010

Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

I want book 2.

I don't know if I picked up Fablehaven when in the perfect mood, or if it's just a brilliant story (I think a perfect mixture of both), but I loved it. It appealed to every demand of my imagination.

Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull, is the first in a series of 5. Two siblings, Kendra and Seth, are forced to stay with their nearly-estranged grandparents for a couple weeks as Mom and Dad go on a cruise. After a thorough mix of curiosity, disobedience, and mystery, the children discover fairies in the backyard, witches in ivy shacks, and poisonous white frogs in secret ponds. And that's just the beginning.

(My parents are going on a cruise and my little sister will be coming to stay with me for those weeks. I think we may just have to explore the surrounding land.)

Grandpa reveals to Kendra and Seth that he is caretaker of a magical preserve--one of many across the world. The preserve provides places for the magical creatures--fairies, naiads, satyrs, golems, imps, etc.--to live. He keeps things in order. However, the arrival of Seth & Kendra, a handful of mishaps, and Seth's mischievous antics sets things out of order.
Seth and Kendra catch on quickly to the magical lingo and mindset, but when things go wrong and they're thrown into a desperate situation on their own, they must rely on their little knowledge to save their lives, their grandparent's lives, and the lives of all good creatures in Fablehaven.

I loved the story. It is a bit "typical" for a young fantasy book (but what isn't, these days? I'll read and let you know! *wink*). The discovery of a new world in your backyard, that world is threatened by Mr. Evil, and newcomers (aka. main characters) must save everything.
But Mull manages to make Fablehaven unique (as good authors usually do). His writing style is wonderful--smooth, catchy, clear, easy to read, and not dumb. He gives credit to his readers. I believe all ages can read this book, and enjoy/understand the writing style in a mature way.

I particularly love the interaction between Kendra and Seth. It captures a sibling relationship perfectly and had me laughing quite often. The adventure in this book is far more creative and in-depth than I'm used to seeing. There is nothing cliche about the trials or discoveries the children go through. Every page promises enjoyment.

Even though Fablehaven is wonderfully imagined, like several other books of this genre, it gives no credit to God. God is lumped in with "...religions are based on truths, but...also polluted by the philosophies of imagination of men" (pg. 114). Page 262 gives reference to worshiping cows because Fablehaven houses a magical one. It is sacred and "...worshiped by all creatures of fairydom."
Other than those two instances, there is no other mention of God or anything relating to religions, which can be both good and bad. Good because it's not blatantly against God, and bad (sad is a more appropriate term) because it is instilling this common belief that God is nothing more than an imagined being like all the other religions and so-called "gods".

On a less heavy note, the book is pretty clean through and through. There is one mention of "booze" and a description of an ogress that has saggy *ahem*. But neither are written in crude or suggestive manners. There is one last part in the book where the siblings have to milk a giant magical cow with udders the size of a garden shed. It's a tricky act of impromptu on their part that involves ladders and (as Seth puts it on pg. 214), "Hug the thingy and slide down?" (How would you milk a barn-sized cow?). The scene is more humorous than inappropriate and, incidentally, does teach children the details of milking a cow. :P

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. There is a bit of magic used by fairies and evil witches, which is questionable to some, but I think it is just a product of imagination God has given us (read my views on magic here).
I'm afraid Kendra and Seth will have their work cut out for them to keep such thrilling action going in book 2 (read the review for book 2 here and book 3 here). I plan to join them as the adventure continues. I don't think they could stop me if they wanted to.

Violence Level: **

Romance Level: * (zip! Zero! The boys will like it.)
Christian Focus: *
Readability Level: **** (Easy, but not amateur.)
Story Depth Level: ****
Recommendation: ****

For a more detailed explanation of the above ratings, visit the 6-Point Nutshell post.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at


  1. Sounds like a fun and adventurous book! What a great review! It makes me want to go buy it and read it right now! Bless you for your knowledge and insight into the latest novels.

  2. I've read the series and would reccomend it too :)
    It's well written but unlike most good books, its not so difficult to understand that younger kids don't get it.
    For me I found some things rather predictable, but that didn't make the books any less exciting!