Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull

Read these.  Just do it.

Wait, what are they about? Okay, I’ll tell you more.  These stories are about an sister named Kendra and her younger brother, Seth.  At the start of the first book, they are on their way to visit their grandparents while their own parents go on vacation.  Like all kids, they are not thrilled about going to hang out with people they don’t know very well, but they quickly discover that their grandparents aren’t exactly who they thought and that there are some old secrets in their family.  The book starts out seeming like this plot will be predictable, but flips it upside down!

Grandma and Grandpa live on a sanctuary for magical creatures, a place called Fablehaven.  It is well protected from the outside world, partly to keep people out, and partly to keep the creatures IN.  Kendra and Seth learn quickly that rules are meant to be followed here, no exceptions, or things can get dangerous in a hurry.  Not just regular dangerous, we’re talking end-of-the-world dangerous.  Seth, being a young boy and very curious, finds ways to bend the rules (technically he’s not breaking them, and if you’re a kid like Seth, you will recognize his strategies right away!)  He makes friends with some Satyrs (half man-half goats) who live in the forest.  These guys, Newell and Doren, love watching television, playing tennis, and sometimes taking advantage of Seth.  Together they often end up in trouble by showing Seth things he is not supposed to know about in the far reaches of the sanctuary.

Kendra, on the other hand, has encounters with fairies.  She ends up receiving some special gifts that allow her to have certain fairy-like powers.  She has the ability to see magical creatures for what they are, instead of drinking the magic milk from a giant cow, or eating walrus butter (!) like the rest of the family. Eventually Seth develops some talents of his own, but his powers lean more toward the dark side.  Will he be able to control his impulses and use his abilities for the right purposes?

Because these two are now insiders in this magical world, they become involved in fighting against a large organization which is looking to destroy these hidden sanctuaries all around the world.  There are journals and artifacts and clues to track down, other sanctuaries and guardians to visit, friends and foes at every turn, some clever time travel, and twists and tests for all involved in the cause.  You never know what will happen next and just when you think you know a character…

I loved every minute of this series and I felt like I read most of the last book while holding my breath.  They are so action-packed!  The characters of Seth and Kendra seem real, mostly because of the way they talk to each other. Seth can get annoying at times, but I promise you that he is the most interesting character because he changes so much during the series.  You can feel his frustration at being younger and not feeling as special as his sister, and you can see how that leads him to make some not-so-smart decisions.

Read these if you love fantasy stories and mythological creatures.  If you liked the Percy Jackson books, you’ll probably like these as well, even though this series is less well-known.  Also, if you like the Narnia books, where you are immersed in a whole different world with its own rules, these are for you.  The Fablehaven books aren’t really scary, but some of its inhabitants are definitely creepy.  For me, I like books where the alternate worlds are carefully planned out and the magical rules make sense throughout the whole story, so this book was just the right balance of being complicated and fun to read.  Try the first one and you’ll be hooked!  These are AR books that range from 4.8 to 5.6, and the points range from 11 to 21.

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