Thursday, January 22, 2009


Brandon Mull
Shadow Mountain 2006

This book gets so many things right that other fantasy novels for children typically miss. First of all, the adults are smart, reasonable, and willing to trust the children when they show they are worthy to be trusted. Second, there is a strong theme running through the book about how keeping the rules affords you strong protection against evil, and how breaking the rules can have serious, unforseen consequences. It is the cautious, obedient character who has the power to save the day at the end because she has kept the rules of Fablehaven and offended no one.

Brandon Mull has a spectacular imagination. His powers of description are stunning, and he is endlessly inventive. The fantastic creatures that inhabit Fablehaven are fascinatingly varied in their personalities, intelligence, and behavior. He's not bad with humans either. His two main characters scrap so much like real siblings I wonder if he bugged his kids' rooms and listened to their arguments as research for his book. The book is not quite Newbury quality - there are a few places where the dialogue stops sounding real and instead becomes a thinly veiled explanation for the reader. In spite of this, Mull does create a very convincing sense of peril in Fablehaven, a place both wonderful and treacherous. It is just the sort of fantasy world you love to believe in.

1 comment:

  1. i love reading reviews of books ive read too! thanks for the suggestion to read this one...i enjoy the series.