Sep 30, 2010

Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven, book 3), 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..
Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague, by Brandon Mull, got its grip on me (though thankfully not with the shadow plague). I read it over the course of several days, but each time took great effort to put it down (a skill I have been forced to master by the need for sleep).

Kendra and Seth are still in Fablehaven with their grandparents after the Sphinx just escaped with one of the five magical artifacts. Still deciding whether or not the Sphinx is evil, the Fablehaven-ers are forced again on quests to retrieve more artifacts so as to hide them in a more secure place. But a dark plague grips the Fablehaven preserve, turning good creatures evil and wreaking havoc on all inhabitants. Having never seen a plague of this sort, the caretakers, Kendra, Seth, and some Knights of the Dawn, must fight for their lives and seek to solve the impossible mystery. They encounter more demons, complex traps, and learn about the mysteries of Kendra being "fairykind" and Seth being immune to fear.

Book 3 is a bit darker than the first two, but look at the title. It has the words "shadow" and "plague" in it, what did you expect? Somehow, author Brandon Mull manages to write the dark elements in a lighter way. He doesn't drag the reader into depression (*cough* Mockingjay *cough*) or script grotesque details of the darkness and evil.
It is still a bit scary for younger readers, though. Fairies turn dark and mischievous, brownies (not the food) turn black and set traps to kill, skewer, maim, and decapitate the occupants of the main house (aka. the characters we love), and satyrs turn into furry dark goats with sharp teeth and curling horns. Sounds amusing, but wait until you turn the page at 11pm and suddenly there's a creepy picture of a screaming goat-satyr in your face. Not pleasant.

All in all, the book is incredibly creative. Mull keeps pulling original ideas out of a magical hat that I envy. ;) Then he writes them in an easily understood way and put believable, humorous characters into the center.
He is truly a talented author.
I think the Fablehaven books remain age-appropriate and clean. I do want to warn that there is some death in this book--though it's not hugely dwelt upon. Just like almost all books, Fablehaven keeps striding into a bit more seriousness and darkness. Thankfully, Mull pulls us out of the darkness every time.

Again, there was no sure mention of God, but at one point a character comes into the story and asks Seth to "pray for him". He's a very admirable character and it leads one to wonder what he believes in the matters of faith.

Now that I've gone through three of the five Fablehaven books, I am setting them down (partially because it's time to move on, and partially because I don't own the last two). Next book on the list is Dragonspell, by Donita K. Paul--a Christian children/teens fantasy novel, which is rising in popularity. Her books can usually be found on the shelf at Barnes and Noble--sometimes in the Christian section, sometimes in the general fantasy section. I look forward to seeing what this book holds. I know there's promise.

After that, we go through the entire Harry Potter series (with a few other books in between for sanity's sake). I'll be putting the review of the last book up a couple weeks before the last movie comes out (Thanksgiving time).

Now, time for some new hiking boots. These novels have endless adventures.....but I love it. ;)

Violence Level: ***
Romance Level: ** (We have a crush going on ;)
Christian Focus: *
Readability Level: ****
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, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. 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

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