Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fablehaven 2: Rise of the Evening Star

Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain 2007

Author Brandon Mull is the rising star of this story. He hits the ground running in this second book with a first chapter full of laughs, magic, and tween-aged characters so believable you think he must have picked them up from the middle school right down the street. This book is more exciting than the first installment of the Fablehaven series. Right from the start, Mull creates a sense that no one can be trusted, the stakes are high, and the danger is real.

Mulls leads are fabulous. Kendra nearly walks off the page, and her trouble-prone little brother Seth is emerging as one of my all time favorite fictional characters. Their fantasy adventure is touched with some unexpected bits of realism that drew me right in and almost made me believe it could have happened.

On the other hand, I must say that Mull deserves a better editor. As I read I went from saying, "Wow! This stuff is fabulous! What genius! What imagination!" to "Hmm, the editor should have caught that one." Not that there were any typos or mispellings or anything like that. It was only that I had to read some of the sentences two or three times in order to decode their meaning, some passages were confusing, and sometimes the dialogue got out of focus. At times I felt like shaking one of the characters and saying "LOOK OUT! THE AUTHOR IS MIND CONTROLLING YOU TO MAKE YOU EXPLAIN THINGS TO THE AUDIENCE!" And yes, I care enough about the characters and the story to wish there had been another revision or two before the book went to print.

All my pickiness aside, the Fablehaven books are just exactly the sort of books I wish I could have read when I was fourteen years old, but that really didn't exist back then. Smart, sophisticated, funny, exciting, adventurous, and clean as a whistle, I'm pleased and grateful that all of my children will have them to enjoy.

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