Kathryn's Reviews > Fablehaven

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
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Apr 29, 2008

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Recommended to Kathryn by: lots of people on GoodReads posts
Read in May, 2008

It was hard to determine what rating to give this book--I think 2.5 is my verdict. For "interesting concept" I'd give it four stars--but for execution/delivery only two stars. On "fulfilling expectations" I'd give it one star. This is one of the most disappointing reads I've come across. Thankfully the final few chapters were decent, so that saved the book from being a dismal failure in my mind.

Without giving away too much of the plot, I must say that this book is NOT really about caring for magical creatures on some sort of enchanted preserve. It is rather about all the stupid things the kids staying there do that messes things up, gets other people in trouble, unleashes terrible creatures, and makes things pretty crummy. And, yes, I felt that most of the characters were pretty dumb--certainly not very likable. Even the Grandpa--I think he was supposed to be wise, as he is in charge of the whole preserve--doesn't really have a clue what to do half the time. And his half-truths and lack of confidence in the children leads to many problems that could have been avoided had he been more open--and also if the kids had been less obnoxious, selfish and stupid. Alas, I really didn't care if an evil beast ate up the little brother after he went wandering through parts of the preserve that he had been warned not to go. Unlike the kids in Harry Potter, who usually have very good reasons for disobeying rules, Seth is just being a troublesome little boy. Many of the "deep" issues of the tale are never resolved, like how only immortal creatures have no morals...

The writing style was also not that great. A few of the scenes were quite good, but most of the story lagged. Also, a few parts just seemed a bit creepy/weird and I wondered at the appropriateness for children. That is:

******SPOILER ALERT: The children see their grandmother naked--at another point, she teaches them how to give a massage to a troll in order to send him into a state of ecstasy. In another part, the kids have to slide down the utters/tips of a giant cow. Was this supposed to be funny? It just seemed a bit icky to me.******

All in all, it was a decent enough story for me to finish but I really wished the writing and character development had been good enough to really deliver what promised to be such a neat story. There are much better fantasy books out there!
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03/04/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by Qt (new)

Qt I'll look forward to your review of it; it sounds intriguing!


message 2: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann You did a really good job with this review, Katie! You said pretty much what I'd wanted too but couldn't really figure out how to say! Thanks for putting it in such good words!


message 3: by X (new)

X This doesn't sound worth the time, though your review was good - good as in well-written. They must be dreadful little kids.


message 4: by Qt (new)

Qt I agree with X and Annie--good review! The book doesn't really sound that great though. Too bad, as it looked intriguing.


Kathryn Yeah, I wouldn't really recommend it. I mean, tons of other people LOVED it and even considered it a worth successor to HP--so maybe you'd like it, but I think you'd be better off trying something else.


message 6: by Ann (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ann Ye-ah. Unfortunately what I thought it would be wasn't really what it was. Bummer, too, as the idea sounded so neat! Like, Hagrid's job, only more detailed;) Like, what you do with a degree in "Care for Magical Creatures" haha:> Too bad...


message 7: by Qt (new)

Qt Yeah, that would be a cool book!


Sridatta nailed it!! i couldn't have summed up in a better way..


Kathryn Sridatta wrote: "nailed it!! i couldn't have summed up in a better way.."

Thanks! :-)


message 10: by Terik (new)

Terik u guys have OBVIOUSLY not read all the books, or maybe u have and just don't like the first one but fablehaven is AMAZING!!!


Theresa Milstein I am halfway through listening to the audiobook with my daughter. I'm not happy being stuck listening to the rest of it. The premise works only because Seth is selfish and impulsive and doesn't get in proper trouble when he ruins lives. It makes me miss Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. I'm not impressed with plots where the action is by children ruining things because they don't listen.


Kathryn Theresa wrote: "I am halfway through listening to the audiobook with my daughter. I'm not happy being stuck listening to the rest of it. The premise works only because Seth is selfish and impulsive and doesn't ge..."

Thanks for your comment. Glad to know I was not alone in disliking this one. Not sure how old your daughter is, but I really loved the Airborn books by Kenneth Oppel. They are more YA than MG but they have a great cast of characters (and there's a full-cast audiobook!) and, though the premise is not the same at all, reminds me a bit of the Harry Potter books in the wonderful characters (not always perfect people, but at least trying to do the right thing!) You might enjoy them.


Theresa Milstein Thanks. My daughter is 8. I'll look up the Airborn books.


Kathryn Risa wrote: "I was curious about this, but I see it isn't worth putting in my priority list. Thanks for the review, Kate! :D"

Well, admittedly many people love this series, so I wouldn't take my word exclusively. But, if the things that I pointed out as annoyances in my review don't sound like your cup of tea, either, then I think it's safe to skip it.


Kathryn Risa wrote: "It's precisely for those reasons that I've decided not to hanker after it! :D"

Wise decision, then ;-)


Kathryn You're welcome, Beth. Many people seem to love it but it just wasn't my cup of tea.


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