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Brandon Mull – Fablehaven

October 27, 2008

127. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (2006)
Fablehaven, Book 1

Length: 359 pages

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy

Started: 18 October 2008, sometime after 10 a.m.
Finished: 18 October 2008, sometime before 2 p.m.

Spooky house, magic
creatures, family in danger.
Sound familiar yet?

Summary: Kendra and her younger brother Seth are not thrilled about having to stay with their Grandpa while their parents are on a cruise; he lives in a strange old house in the middle of nowhere, and while there is a pool and cool attic playroom for them, Grandpa also has a lot of strict rules about what they aren’t allowed to do, and they suspect there are things he’s not telling them – like where their Grandma really is. However, when Seth ventures into the forbidden woods surrounding the estate and encounters a strange old woman who might be a witch, they soon find themselves plunged into a world they’d never imagined. For Fablehaven isn’t just a creepy old house, it’s a sanctuary for magical creatures… and not all of them are friendly. When a mistake on Midsummer Night puts their family and friends in danger, it’s up to Kendra and Seth to rescue them… but if not even their Grandpa knows all of Fablehaven’s secrets, what hope do two kids have?

Review: This book is so incredibly similar, plot-wise, to The Spiderwick Chronicles, that it’s been difficult to keep them separate in my head. That similarity could work to this book’s benefit – kids who like one will almost certainly like the other – but because I read this one second, it wound up feeling a little bit redundant. This book does target a slightly older audience than the Spiderwick books, although not by much, and it is definitely funnier – I particularly liked the somewhat crass, shallow satyrs, and wish they had gotten more screen time. At the same time, I remember Spiderwick feeling spookier – maybe because it gets to the “family in danger” part sooner, while this one lingers a little longer on world-building. I did also really enjoy the main characters in Fablehaven – Kendra’s very recognizeable as the rule-following, straight-laced older sister and her relationship with Seth reminded me a lot of my own brother. I think I’m a little past the target audience, and the Spiderwick comparisons might be keeping me from giving this book an entirely fair shake, but while I enjoyed reading it, it didn’t have anything that grabbed me and made me love it. I did like it enough to go hunt down the sequels, though. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Overall, it’s a very imaginative, fun, and absorbing middle-grade fantasy, and should appeal to young fantasy fans of both sexes.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Official Fablehaven Site

Other Reviews: Ticket to Anywhere, Books & Other Thoughts, Maw Books Blog, Becky’s Book Reviews, From My Bookshelf
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Kendra stared out the side window of the SUV, watching foliage blur past.


  • p. 55: “Seth paused at the white steps leading up to the gazebo to pluck a piece of fruit from an espalier.” – a trellis or framework on which the trunk and branches of fruit trees or shrubs are trained to grow in one plane.
9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2008 9:27 pm

    Nicki, I enjoyed the comparison to The Spiderwick Chronicles. I love that you included the times of day for your reading.

  2. October 29, 2008 6:09 am

    I bought this book for my daughter when it first came out, mostly because I wanted to read it so much. But of course, I still haven’t gotten around to it, much less the sequels. I’m still looking forward to it though…maybe I’ll read it to my boys, as they loved The Spiderwick Chronicles when we read them earlier this year.

  3. October 29, 2008 8:58 am

    Shana – Thanks! I really did worry that I wasn’t giving this book a fair chance to be judged on its own merits, but comparisons to Spiderwick were rattling around in my head the entire time I read it, and I can’t go back in time and read this one first, it’ll have to stand how it is.

    Debi – I don’t know how old your boys are, (and I’m bad at judging appropriate reading age anyways), but if they liked The Spiderwick Chronicles, I’d definitely give them a shot at this one. It’s a little more daunting, since it feels fatter instead of being broken down into slim little volumes, and there aren’t as many illustrations, but the plot and themes and complexity and “scare level” are pretty darn similar. Let me know how they like it!

  4. November 1, 2008 11:51 pm

    I thought I was past the target audience as well on this one but after meeting Brandon Mull in person, I would like to read the rest of the series.

  5. November 2, 2008 8:48 am

    Natasha – You always seem to meet the coolest authors! I’m definitely willing to give the rest of the series a try, they’re just not super-high on my priority list.

  6. Sherry permalink
    March 31, 2014 12:59 pm

    I really enjoyed your review. I haven’t read the Spiderwick Chronicles yet but I absolutely loved the entire Fablehaven Series. I will probably feel the same when I am reading the Spiderwick Chronicles. I really enjoyed the post

  7. February 22, 2017 3:22 pm

    I’ve read The Spiderwick Chronicles. It’s good.

  8. February 22, 2017 3:24 pm

    The Spiderwick Chronicles are real I think. So are Rick Riordan’s books. Percy Jackson, The Kane Chronicles, The Heroes of Olympus, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and The Trials of Apollo.

  9. February 22, 2017 3:25 pm

    I’ll like to meet Brandon Mull and ask him if Fablehaven is real. He’s a good author. So are Rick Riordan, John Flagnan, J.K. Rowling, and many other authors. I hope he sees this comment {ha ha, Eoin Colfer Artemis Fowl is real}.

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