May 23, 2011

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven, 4), 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.

The feeling of picking up a book that is not a textbook is almost as uplifting as the start of summer break. Over the course of graduate school, trying to survive classes, enduring ever-changing weather, and watching God turn my life like a kaleidoscope, I have not had the chance to read a single page in a novel, but fear not!

I have passed my classes, I'm still somewhat sane (though I did put the pretzels in the freezer the other day), and now it is break-time (at least for the next three days). This, of course, means I got to finish reading Brandon Mull's Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (Fablehaven 4).

I forgot how much I enjoy the characters of Seth and Kendra. A book should never be subjected to having a bookmark on the same page for over a month (unless it's a really crummy book).

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary was just as enjoyable as the first three Fablehaven books. It ties knots and turns through invisible mazes with the speed and precision of a mole in a carrot patch.
Brandon Mull takes the mysteries of the magical world to new levels in this book, introducing the characters to shape-imitating stingbulbs, the history and etiquette of dragons, old pacts with centaurs, and revelations of traitors and villains.

Kendra and Seth return to Fablehaven for much more serious reasons than a holiday visit--escape, safety, and trouble. Another artifact must be retrieved before the suspected leading villain (the Sphinx) steals it first. His collection is growing and the possibility of the demon prison, Zyzzx, being opened is growing more precarious. The artifact they seek this time lies hidden in the dragon sanctuary. Not only are dragons one of the most dangerous beasts in the magical world, but they are protective, unable to be defeated, smart, selfish, and numerous. They are also the welcoming committee for Kendra, Seth, and the others that enter the sanctuary through stealth. Will they succeed? Will they perish? What hope will be left at the end?

Delivered with as much excellence as books one, two, and three, I had difficulty putting it down when duty called. The action is on the more intense side and fighting lathers every page once the quest to the dragon sanctuary begins. The focus on family and friendship is strong and creates deep bonds in the reader and characters. I enjoyed the development of that part of the characters. The Fablehaven series has been awaiting some more emotional and family bonding.

In regards to plot, the book is clean and filled with constant action. A few characters die, but nothing is gruesome or inappropriate for the young reader. Brandon Mull could have improved his character development a little bit, or at least made some emotions in Seth and Kendra a bit deeper and more believable. Even with the battles, cliffhangers, and a few bruises, this book is perfectly appropriate for its intended age-group (and above). I enjoyed it on a fairly neutral level and for the sake of furthering the plot.

Violence Level: ***

Romance Level: **
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. 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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