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“A refuge for mystical creatures, a stewardship passed down from caretaker to caretaker over the years,” Grandpa Sorenson. –Fablehaven
by Brandon Mull
AR Test, Strong Female Character
Siblings Kendra and Seth spend the summer visiting their grandparents. The first week of their visit is confined by their grandfather’s strict rules to stay in the yard and not explore the property. Then Kendra uncovers a secret journal with a single note in it, “Drink the milk.”
Kendra and Seth drink the milk the caretaker leaves out every morning for the butterflies, and suddenly their eyes are opened. The insects surrounding them transform into beautiful fairies and they learn the property, called Fablehaven, is a home for magical, mystical creatures. The siblings are not allowed to explore the property beyond the yard because it is full of dangerous beings. Then, on Midsummer’s Eve, the yard and home’s protections are lifted, and all creatures are allowed to roam free. The terror of the evening leads to a dangerous adventure that will require courage from the young siblings in order to save their family.
Fablehaven highlights the importance of courage, following rules, and loyalty. Seth and Kendra struggle with following rules they feel are unfair, even though the rules are in place to protect them. In the end, the siblings must surmount their fears and face a terrifying situation to overcome evil forces and save their family. The magical fights and demons in the book may be disturbing for some readers, but the scenes are brief and general in their description. However, some readers might find several of the scenes upsetting. For example, during the story, the children see their grandmother naked. Plus, she teaches them how to give a troll a massage, which sends him into a state of ecstasy.
Middle school readers will find they are able to relate to the siblings. Seth is a lovable, mischievous brother whose curiosity tends to get him into trouble. Kendra is more cautious and is frequently led out of her comfort zone by Seth. This novel is entertaining and largely plot-driven, following Seth and Kendra as they mature with their increasing responsibilities and knowledge.
Mull’s story has a slow start but the adventures that follow are worth the wait. The story’s interesting characters include witches, fairies, satyrs, imps, a troll, and a strange chicken. Despite the fantastical characters, Fablehaven’s world needs more descriptions. Still, the novel will leave the reader excited to pick up the next book in the series, Rise of the Evening Star. Readers who want a less upsetting and greatly suspenseful story that takes you into the fairy world, should read The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black.
- Fallen fairies, called imps, would be turned back into fairies if they were kissed by a true fairy. “In radiant bursts and sparks, every imp that was kissed transformed into a human-sized fairy!”
- Kendra and Seth are warned of the dangers of the property’s pond by Lena, their grandfather’s associate. Lena says, “The pond can be a hazardous place. Return there now, and you would find friendly naiads beckoning you near the water in order to pull you under and drown you.”
- When demons break into Seth and Kendra’s bedroom, one of the demons touches salt surrounding their bed. The salt causes the demon great pain and “his face and chest were charred.”
- The siblings’ grandmother explains the necessity of taking a dangerous dart to visit the witch. She says, “This dart will slay any being that was ever mortal, including the enchanted or undead, if I can lodge it in a lethal place.”
- Grandma Sorenson fires the dangerous dart at the witch. “The arrow took flight. . . Muriel shrieked and toppled back against the net of knotted ropes, a manicured hand covering the front of her shoulder. She rebounded forward, falling on her knees, panting, still clutching her shoulder, black feathers protruding between her slender fingers.”
- Kendra needs some of the property’s giant cow’s blood for an elixir. She climbs up a ladder to get to its udder and “plunges the weed digger into the spongy flesh. The tool sank almost to the handle, and Viola made a terrified bellow.”
- Kendra also needs her own blood for the elixir. “Gritting her teeth, she stuck her thumb with the pin and then squeezed two drops of blood into the mixture.”
- The fairies and demons fight to try and imprison the escaped demon, Bahumat. The fighting begins when, “The winged beasts clawed their smaller opponents, but the fairies adroitly evaded the blows and slashed off their wings.” This violence is described over five pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- While the kids are asleep, Grandpa Sorenson has satyrs over for a party. He explains, “It was not a party for young people. As caretaker, your grandfather would never drink, but I can’t vouch for the satyrs.”
- The satyrs lecture Seth and Kendra for foiling their plan to steal the ogresses’ soup, saying, “If you spoiled our wine, that would be another story.”
- The satyrs explain they would like batteries for their television. The satyrs say, “Then we can trade for more. Gold, booze, you name it.”
- Grandma Sorenson warns Kendra against smelling beautiful flowers. Grandma Sorenson says the flowers are “more addictive than most drugs. Sampling a lotus blossom awakens a craving that will never be silenced. Many have wasted their lives pursuing and consuming the petals of those bewitching flowers.”
- After meeting the satyrs, Seth describes them as “idiots.”
- Grandpa Sorenson explains the dangers of Muriel, the witch. “Before long, she became enamored with the power of witchcraft. . . Her husband tried to help her, but she was already too demented.”
- Grandpa Sorenson discusses the dangers of the Society of the Evening Star saying, “members of the Society consort with demons and practitioners of the black arts.”
- Grandma Sorenson discusses the imprisoned demon. “Long ago, this land was possessed by a powerful demon named Bahumat. . . The natives made whatever offerings the demons seemed to require, but still they lived in fear.”
- Grandma Sorenson discusses the danger of the witch, saying, “Muriel is a student of evil.”
- At the end of the battle against the demon, Kendra looks around at the fairies surrounding her and reflects that she “had seen many fairies fall during the battle, but most had been revived and healed by the magic of their comrades.”
by Paige Smith