Book review: 'Fablehaven' is solid, quick-paced reading

Fantasy book in same company as the early Harry Potter works

Published: Sunday, Aug. 27 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

"FABLEHAVEN," by Brandon Mull, Shadow Mountain, 359 pages, $16.95

For a children's book published by Shadow Mountain, a member of the Deseret Book family, "Fablehaven" goes against the grain.

There are references to alcohol use, dark and light magic, and a mixing of potions that include the drawing of blood — human and animal. And at one point, the heroine prays to an idol.

Of course, those aforementioned scenes are almost a natural occurrence in fantasy books — but not usually found in books from a publishing arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Still, "Fablehaven" as a whole is a solid piece of work that could stand in the same company as the early Harry Potter books. And it is a good read, unlike Obert Skye's clunky "Leven Thumps."

"Fablehaven" is author Brandon Mull's first novel. It follows the adventures of siblings Kendra and Seth Sorensen during an extended visit to their grandparents' farm.

The book wastes no time getting into the sad side of life. The children's other set of grandparents (on their mother's side) have died of asphyxiation in their trailer home. The parents are urged to embark on a cruise (a wish written in the grandparents' will) while the children stay at the farm.

The farm, however, is not all it's cracked up to be, as the children soon find. Seth immediately breaks all of his grandfather's many rules and sets in motion a dangerous war between good and evil. With the help of a fairy army, a golem and other magical creatures, the children find themselves fighting an evil sorceress and her minions.

"Fablehaven" is a quick-paced read, and taken as a fantasy book, it does its job in exploring new worlds.

Unlike the Harry Potter series, it pits mortals, not wizards, against evil beings.

But a word of warning: Seth is annoying. He never seems to learn from his mistakes and is constantly putting himself and his sister, let alone the future of the world, in perilous situations.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com

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