Since I'd read the first book in A World Without Heroes, I thought that I would check out one of the author's earlier series. I ended up with Fablehaven, which is another middle grade fantasy series. And I actually finished reading this book by using time during lunch breaks at work, getting the last pages read back at the end of August. Kept meaning to post but work distracts me, so here is my review of Fablehaven, book 1 in the Fablehaven series, by Brandon Mull
About the Book: For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite ... Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most.
Overall: I liked this book. It was an easy but interesting read. The beginning started a bit typical. There were many parts I expected, like the kids going to their grandparents and how things first seemed a bit normal but they started to discover that there is something secret going on there. But that was needed for the story to work. Made me think of the Spiderwick Chronicles movie just a bit, but only the commercial for it cause I haven't actually even seen the move or read that book. It's a two POV story, with both the cautious older sister (Kendra) and her not cautious younger brother (Seth). And this one did definitely have a more Middle Grade feel to it, at least in comparison to parts of the other book I read by the author.
Characters: Both characters are likeable in their own way. It's interesting to go back and forth in this case between the two siblings but together the point of views create the story as a whole because we get to see what is behind the surface of each character. We get to see what is behind the adventurous boy's approach and get in on some of the action from the decisions he makes. On the other hand, we also get to see the cautious steps taken and how she finds out answers and when needed whether she will be able to let her fear down enough to act brave for her family. Both work well and I hope to see them in other stories of the series.
Setting: I don't often talk about setting much because I don't notice it too often nor write it in great detail but Mull does a good job in setting up the Fablehaven location, which will be involved for the whole series I would imagine based on the series title. He does an excellent job in both first books I have read in setting up the world for the series without letting it overpower the first story. There are hints that will come in useful later, I can tell, and in general the Fablehaven is a fun place that I want to learn more about. I'm sure others will find it interesting too, of all ages.
Recommendation: I recommend anyone really who likes fantasy and is up for a little middle grade reading to try out this book. Whether for a middle grade reader or beyond, it's a pretty fun read overall.