Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fabelhaven, by Brandon Mull

Okay, so I guess Pendragon # 10 was not the last thing I'd review this month. And neither is this book. I'm still reading another recommendation of Graham's, Here, There be Dragons, but I promise that that will be the final review. Reading is fun, but I definitely need to get back to my own book writing.

I discovered that after awhile, for some reason, I grew tired of reading Elantris. I decided that Brandon Sanderson wasn't necessarily for me, so I returned that and Mistborn to the library. I also returned Epic, but I kept Fablehaven and Here, There be Dragons. I think it's partly because I want to get through my reading load quickly, but mostly I believe I've got a special taste in what I'm willing to try reading. I think I didn't want to read Brandon Sanderson's works or Epic because the stories are about completely imaginary worlds that have all kinds of rules that the author invented, and I'm not quite that willing to learn a whole new set of rules for the sake of enjoying the story set in front of me. Fablehaven and Here, There be Dragons, however, are novels that start off in a familiar way. The main characters are humans who live in a normal world and have regular, mortal concerns in life. They just happen to be thrown into unusual circumstances by the time the story starts for them. I like that, because then we all start on the same level. The reader, as well as the confused protagonist, has to have time to learn the ropes in order to save the day. At least, that's my theory about it, anyway. That's how I'm writing my book.

Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled review. Fablehaven seems to be quite an interesting start to a series. It reminded me a bit of The Spiderwick Chronicles, only this was better, I believe (I really didn't like the Spiderwick movie made by Nickelodeon, despite the fact that Freddy Highmore was in it. It very much soured up my opinions for the book series). Two young kids, a cautious girl and a mischievous boy, get dropped off at their grandparents' house while their parents go away on a cruise. The kids later find out that the grandparents are caretakers of a large, magical preserve for mythical creatures. Sounds like fun, huh? Well, as the children discover, fantasy isn't always so fluffy and suger-coated.

I think the book was really good. The characters were memorable and well thought out, and Mull's magic rules seem valid enough too. It's mostly based on the common sense that if you don't bother the magic creatures, they won't bother you. But if you cause any mischief, whether on purpose or on accident, they can punish you really bad.

As much as I enjoyed reading Fablehaven, though, I don't think I'll get into the series. It'll just be another distraction for me. Besides, it's a great standalone novel. But I still happily recommend the series to kids who like stories about magic, like my brother Adam.
Coming up: Here, There be Dragons, from the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica.


Graham Chops said...

I can understand why you wouldn't get into Elantris. You have to have a taste for epic fantasy, and the real action of the story doesn't happen until you're halfway in. In a 500 page book, that's a big deal.

Mistborn was a heck of a lot better about that. If you do decide to get into epic fantasy, start with that one.

And regardless of whether it's a distraction, you're doing yourself a crippling disservice if you don't keep up with Fablehaven. The first one is a great stand-alone, but if you don't pick up the second one, your life will be incomplete. The second one makes it completely legit as a series and they get mind-blowingly more awesome with every book.

I'm not going to read Pendragon if you're not going to read Fablehaven! There. I threw down the gauntlet :-)

Magenta said...

Yeah, I read only 6 chapters into it and kind of realized that Elantris wasn't for me. I didn't like how the story had to be split into 3 characters POV the whole time. The guy, the girl, and the villian. Also the whole confusing Aon language...

Curse you, Graham, for throwing the gauntlet! Fine. I promise I'll get to Fablehaven 2 sometime in the near future, but you at least have to read the first Pendragon book. I mean, I read the first Fablehaven and gave it a try, right? Do we have a deal?

Peter Ahlstrom said...

You could also try Sanderson's middle grade series, starting with Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. It's a lot more lighthearted than Elantris or Mistborn.