Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber, #1)” as Want to Read:
Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Happenstance Found (The Books of Umber #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  3,351 ratings  ·  275 reviews

Twelve-year-old Happenstance awakens in a cave with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. Soon a mysterious trio arrives to take him away: the explorer Umber, the shy archer Sophie, and Oates, whose strength and honesty are both brutal. Hap and his new acquaintances narrowly escape the cavernous underworld and make their way to Lord Umber's bustling jewel of a
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Aladdin (first published January 5th 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Happenstance Found, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Happenstance Found

The Ruins of Gorlan by John FlanaganHappenstance Found by P.W. CataneseThe Icebound Land by John FlanaganThe Battle for Skandia by John FlanaganDragon Games by P.W. Catanese
All Fantasy Of Books
2nd out of 28 books — 19 voters
Divergent by Veronica RothThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingGraceling by Kristin CashoreCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Original Stories . . . a Breath of Fresh Air
343rd out of 3,256 books — 5,821 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Abby Johnson
What a pleasant surprise this book was! Action and intriguing characters make for quite a page-turner. The ending resolves nicely, while still pushing readers to seek out the sequels. Hand this one to fans of fantasy adventure like Fablehaven or Pendragon.

Laura (Kyahgirl)
3.5/5; 4 stars; B+

I came across this book in my quest for fantasy stories my 12 year old son might enjoy. I think it would be perfect for that age group but I also think most adults who enjoy fantasy would like this story. Right from the beginning there is danger and adventure and all sorts of unusual magical characters.

I found enough of a hook in the story about Lord Umber, to make me want to read more about this world and find out if he ever gets home.
Lana Krumwiede
A well-crafted story. Strong characters. Good solid world building. Some original ideas for a fantasy. Nothing really blew me away, but it was an excellent read that held my interest. Count me in for book #2.
El Templo de las Mil Puertas
"Lord Umber es un aventurero entusiasta que recorre el mundo de cabo a rabo en busca de monstruos, milagros y maravillas para describirlos en su obra magna, Los libros de Umber. Sin embargo, lo que acaba de encontrar en las ruinas de una ciudad perdida excede todas sus expectativas: un muchacho, llamado Casualidad, cuyos inhumanos ojos verdes pueden ver en la oscuridad, y que no recuerda absolutamente nada sobre su origen o su identidad. Lord Umber se lo lleva consigo a su Atalaya en Puerto Kura ...more
P.W.Catanese dazzles in the first of the planned Books of Umber series by wittily subverting genre tropes. Happenstance, a boy with strange green eyes, wakes up in a cave with no memories of who he is or anything about the fantastic world in which he lives. He soon encounters Lord Umber, an adventurer who seems familiar with our world as well as his own, and his two companions-a brute cursed to be forever truthful and a one-handed artist and archer. En route to Umber's home, they discover that H ...more
Eva Mitnick
Young Happenstance awakens in a dark cave, not remembering who he is or where he came from. A voice tells him his name - and then a group of explorers discovers him and the sealed note in his pocket. It seems that the owner of the mysterious voice wants Happenstance to go with this group - the dapper and indefatigable Lord Umber, a teenager with a missing hand named Sophie, and a strong man named Oates - and so he does.

Lord Umber is a collector of mysteries, preferably magical ones, traveling al
Carrie Hickman
I was happily surprised by this book, it was exciting, fresh, and over all fun. I bought it out a whim and then set it on my island where I began to wonder why the heck I got it. I'm not really into this genre (I hated Beyonders) and the cover is just awful. But despite the gaudy design and the annoying double-spaces, I really enjoyed this book.
The characters, who all seem painfully cliché at first, are relatively well-developed and interesting. The villain was one-dimensional, but he served hi
Teresa Garrett
Happenstance, Hap for short, is found by Lord Umber in a subterranean city buried beneath an active volcano and guarded by a gargantuan worm-type beast. He has no memory of any life prior to being found but little bits of knowledge flow through his mind allowing him to speak and read - in fact he can read and speak several languages. More than anything he wants to know about his past but is worried about his future since he is being hunted by a strange creature known as the "Creep". Lord Umber k ...more
I am not that far into the book, but I am already blown away by the beautiful and simplistic writing and the premise. I love the fantasy world as well, so fun!
Update: I finished the book! What I loved about this book was the mystery- who is Happenstance? That was utterly fascinating! I loved the distinct characters as well. Nothing turns me off more than undistinct characters who you can only tell apart by their names. So, I loved the colorful characters, Umber and Oates and so on. My only compl
Apr 30, 2012 Ronna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: AnaLee, Diana, Charity
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Catanese has created some of the most lovable characters I have encountered in a fantasy! For me, Umber's appeal lies in his uncanny happiness despite his underlying psychological trials, his constant curiosity amid danger, and his amiable appeal to all those he encounters. My other favorites include Oats, with his absolute truth, and Malfor with his compassionate truth. Of course, Hap is a fantastic main character in his quest for identity. Overall, I really enjoyed the action, mystery and ques ...more
Interesting book... There wasn't a whole lot of action in it except at the very end yet it somehow kept me reading. There was no over long descriptive pages, but it was detailed enough for me to get a clear picture of the area. I guess what kept me reading was I was very curious as to who Hap was and what was going on with him. The writer invoked a good sense of mystery with the character without making the reader frustrated about never finding anything solid.
Happenstance doesn't know anything from before he wakes---in a room in a long-abandoned city, his only companion a voice that delivers him into the hands of Lord Umber. Lord Umber is a strange man. Happenstance isn't sure what to think of someone who is delighted by the magical, often to the point of imperiling himself, and he isn't sure what Lord Umber's interest should be with him.

This is a fascinating book. Lord Umber is far more than he appears. He's not just an empty-headed fool who enjoys
Feb 25, 2014 ThenSingsMySoul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Most fantasy fans
Recommended to ThenSingsMySoul by: Goodreads
Shelves: fantasy-fantasy
I found this books to be entertaining and enjoyable. The story was engaging, but elusive. The characters really stole the spotlight though. They were captivating and quirky. Even the most minor characters had something distinctive and amusing about them. Happenstance is one of the main characters and he wakes up in a cave with no memory. He is found by Lord Umber and his companions. They walk out of the cave and things start kicking into gear right about then, as they are attacked by a monstrou ...more
Jessica Wilson
Wow! I have been searching for something like this for a long time (maybe years). This was a wonderful surprising cleverly written story that takes you on a journey to a world you never want to leave. I loved the main character Happenstance and all the mysteries surrounding him. Lord Umber is a character you root for and hope to see in the next installments as someone who will surprise you with more hidden bits of wisdom. Catanese is a great writer and has the ability to capture your attention w ...more
Heather Constantino
Very entertaining story that I read to my son. He liked it enough that he wants to start the next book in the triology. High marks from him as he is not as easily entertained. Happenstance is a young boy who awakens with no memory of who he is or where he comes from or where he even is. He is found by a group under the leadership of Lord Umber and becomes a member of the troup. After being chased across an ocean and then hunted in Umber's hometown, Hap starts to learn bit by bit a little about w ...more
2011-12 Bluebonnet Can't wait until book 2 is out!
WAAAAAAHHH!!! I can't believe how HYPER I am after reading this!!! THIS IS BOOK SO GOOD, YOU MUST READ IT AND TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT! It has everything that makes a good story.

The plot is basically a big mystery that revolves around the main character, Happenstance (Hap - I love his name) and slowly unravels in every chapter. The mystery between him and giddy 'ol Umber gets to be very serious, and even a little bit creepy. The book gives several of clues to the mysteries around them whic
Über den Autor: P.W. Catanese lebt mit seiner Frau und drei Kindern in einer kleinen Stadt in Connecticut. Wenn er nicht gerade Cartoons zeichnet oder schreibt, arbeitet er für eine Werbeagentur. Mehr über den Autor auf (Quelle: Carlsen)

Inhalt: ”Als Hap in einer dunklen Höhle erwacht, kann er sich an überhaupt nichts erinnern – nicht einmal daran, wer er ist. Auch der Mann, der sich seiner annimmt, ist ihm vollkommen unbekannt: Lord Umber, zugleich Abenteurer, Erfinder und Wis
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
A boy wakes up in a dark cave, confused. He doesn’t know where he is or even who he is. Three people mysteriously appear to lead him to safety. The leader of the three is Lord Umber, an explorer, inventor and adventurer who studies all things mysterious and magical. He gives the boy a name, Happenstance, or Hap for short.

As the group heads to Lord Umber’s home, they discover unusual things about Hap besides his startlingly green eyes. For one, he never sleeps. Ever. He can see in the dark and he
Charlyn  Trussell
Happenstance, or Hap as he is called, is found by Umber, Oates, and Sophie in a maze of tunnels guarded by a many-legged and -toothed worm. Umber is obviously in charge of the mission to rescue Hap, but Oates' great strength and Sophie's archery abilities certainly help. Unfortunately, they had no idea that the treasure they had sought would be a young boy who had absolutely no memory before the moment he had awakened in the dark chamber from which he was rescued. Hap heard the voice of the one ...more
(3.5 stars) I'm not going to sit here and give you a summary of what happens in this book, because quite honestly not a lot really happens plot-wise:

- Happenstance, "Hap", is found by with absolutely no memory of who (or what) he is.

- Lord Umber, the man that found Hap, tries to help him uncover more about himself.

- Hap is stalked by an evil creep who wants his "powers".

- The evil creep is destroyed.

The End.

Okay, normally this piss-poor plot would've bored me to tears and led me to stamp the c
By the time I got to the end of Happenstance Found, the first book in the Books of Umber trilogy, I liked it. However, the beginning of this book is a little slow and aimless.

Happenstance is a young boy who wakes up wet and blindfolded in a cave. Soon a man named Umber and his two companions come across him and take him on their journey.

For most of the book Happenstance and his new friends (as well as the reader) are unsure as to who or what Hap is. Is he from this world? Is he magical? What hap
A twelve-year-old boy wakes up with no idea who he is or what was in his past. He is befriended by a group of people led by a man known as Lord Umber, a man who is full of information and advice on how to make their city better. An unknown man informs Umber that the boy should be called Happenstance, but nobody knows anything else about him. His brilliant green eyes startle others and allow him to see perfectly in the dark. He can jump incredibly long distances and run faster than humanly possib ...more
Feb 09, 2009 Tasha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
Happenstance awakens with no memory of his past at all. Ragged and blindfolded, he can hear the enormous worms outside the room he is kept in. When Lord Umber arrives to take him, Happenstance discovers that his eyes are very special. Bright green and sparkling, they can see in the dark and see farther than normal human eyes. Taken home with Lord Umber, after escaping a labyrinth filled with man-eating worms on a erupting volcanic island, Hap finds himself encountering one wonder after another. ...more
His first memories are of waking up in a dark underground cave. He knows things but has no memory of who or what he was before waking up. Strangers discover him and are instructed to call him Happenstance by a mysterious voice in the darkness. There is a note addressed to Lord Umber who is the leader of this group. He is a well-respected, wealthy man in the harbor city of Kurahaven. A merchant, explorer, inventor, and chronicler of the strange and unknown, Lord Umber is enthusiastic about this m ...more
Kay Mcgriff
I put off reading The Books of Umber: Happenstance Found because I couldn't get past the cover. I still think it is a weird cover, but I'm glad I didn't let it stop me from encountering this magical tale. PW Cantanese has created a world filled with magic and monsters and mystery.

Happenstance awakens in a dark room in an underground city. His mind is as dark as the world around him, but as he encounters new things, his brain provides the words for it. There is just one thing he cannot know or r
The adventures of Happenstance as he happens upon an excentric man named Umber and his crew of skilled adventurers all while trying to uncover the great mystery... What and who in the world is Happenstance?

A very fun romp through a magical world of wonders made even more interesting by Umbers hints at another world he once called home with it's own peculiar brand of magic, technology. Yes, for the fans of DWJ's alternate realities, parallel worlds, The Books of Umber may be somewhat obvious, ho

A very solid four stars (if they had a half star, I'd rate it even higher). I originally got this out of the library to check to see if my son would like it. I ended up devouring it (which wasn't hard - there aren't that many words on a page, and it's written for a grade 5-7 grade level). It had decent world-building for a early YA, and I loved the story and am eager to read the rest. It's an alternate-earth adventure story with ecological undertones. I love that a main character (Lord Umber) ha ...more
This is an amazing book with an interesting plot and a neat setting, but I think that the best part is the characters. There is Umber; kind,and most of the time cheerful and inquisitive to the point of madness, but occasionally suffering from crushing sadness. Also there is Happenstance a strange boy with even stranger powers who has no memory and no idea who he is. There are too many other characters to name and they all have unique skills, problems, and situations. this is what make this book ...more
At the start of the book we meet Happenstance who – I’m not even sure if that’s his name, but that's just me – has been woken by an unseen person [we only hear his voice] and has no recollection of his life before, whether it be where he was from or even his name, and so Mr. Unseen voice tells Happenstance to follow this group of people, Lord Umber, Sophie and Oates.

Umber is an eccentric man, with due reason actually, who I quite enjoyed hearing speak. There is a mystery that surrounds him as we
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Monthly Book Club: Happenstance Found [June] 2 10 Jun 17, 2012 07:32PM  
  • The Dragon of Trelian (Trelian, #1)
  • The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity (Brixton Brothers, #1)
  • Saint Louis Armstrong Beach
  • The Dragon's Eye (Erec Rex, #1)
  • The Hound of Rowan (The Tapestry, #1)
  • Amazing Faces
  • The Case of the Lost Boy (The Buddy Files, #1)
  • 90 Miles to Havana
  • Hide and Seek
  • Wild Things
  • Water Keep (Farworld, #1)
  • Aliens on Vacation
  • Slathbog's Gold (Adventurers Wanted, #1)
  • The Magic Thief: Lost (Magic Thief, #2)
  • The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According To Susy)
  • The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, #1)
  • The Duchess of Whimsy
  • Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott
P.W. (Paul) Catanese is the author of fantasy-adventure novels (published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster). His next novel, DONNY'S INFERNO, a supernatural adventure, will be published in early 2016.

A crisp style, fast pacing, interesting characters and vivid descriptions have made Catanese a favorite with everyone from reluctant readers to teachers to adults seeking a thrilling escape. His books
More about P.W. Catanese...

Other Books in the Series

The Books of Umber (3 books)
  • Dragon Games (The Books of Umber, #2)
  • The End of Time (The Books of Umber, #3)
Dragon Games (The Books of Umber, #2) The End of Time (The Books of Umber, #3) The Thief and the Beanstalk (Further Tales Adventures, #1) The Mirror's Tale (Further Tales Adventures, #4) The Eye of the Warlock (Further Tales Adventures, #3)

Share This Book

“Once an idea is out and about, it can't be called back, silenced or erased. You can't contain it, any more than you could put the head of a dandelion back together after the wind has scattered its seeds.” 14 likes
“The worm hissed. "You said it couldn't see!" shouted Oates, forgetting Umber's instruction to be silent. He shook a fist. "We all heard it, Umber! You specifically said, it couldn't see!"
"I know-isn't it wonderful to learn something new?" Umber laughed.”
More quotes…