Friday, March 7, 2008

Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

fablehaven.jpgAn amazing phenomenon has happened in the last few years…the “young adult” category of books has grown huge! Go into any bookstore and there’s a whole land of adventures awaiting young readers where there used to be only the lands of well known authors like C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, John Bellairs, etc. Of course all of these books can be enjoyed by us adults as well! Of all the recent young adult series I’ve read, my favorite has been the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. Dare I admit that I enjoy these books even more than I did the Harry Potter books, a series I adored??

For those who haven’t read the first two books in the series, do it! But for a short summary, Fablehaven is one of a few dozen preserves in the world for magical creatures. Each preserve is run by a human caretaker (as far as I know) that is entrusted with its secrets. But there are secrets that even its caretakers aren’t aware of. For in order for the preserves to remain safe and for its many inhabitants to remain safe, no one can be trusted with all of the knowledge and secrets of the preserves and artifacts hidden within. There are dark forces and dark beings that seek power and destruction…power that can be obtained by uniting the five artifacts that are hidden within five of the preserves, one of which is Fablehaven.

Fablehaven is run by Stan and Ruth, and their grandchildren, Kendra and Seth have come to know the secrets of Fablehaven and have gone through many trials and dangerous situations in the first two books. And they’ve walked away with some pretty special abilities! The second book in the series leaves us with the feeling that no one can be trusted, and in this third book, Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague (due out April 21st) we see that there is indeed reason for that.

Without sounding too cheesy, Grip of the Shadow Plague is by far the most "gripping" of the three novels. I barely have any fingernails left! Shadows are falling over Fablehaven. The preserve that was once beautiful and filled with beautiful creatures is turning dark. Nipsies, which are normally little tiny human looking creatures are now gray with red beady eyes. Fairies once filled with beautiful colors are turning dark and evil. The brownies are laying deadly traps, and Seth and Kendra’s once dear friends are turning against them. What’s even worse is that those who can help them are slowly being turned into shadows with no substance. Fablehaven is literally at the brink of collapse. Can it be saved?

At the same time, The Knights of the Dawn are recruiting Kendra to join their ranks. The Knights are a society sworn to protect the preserves from The Society of the Evening Star, a society that seeks to bring down the preserves and gain the artifacts hidden within. All of the Knights wear masks which doesn’t seem right…there are known traitors in the Knights…it’s hard to trust anyone. Kendra is sent on a mission to another preserve with another new recruit named Gavin, a delightful new character (and possible love interest?), which proves to be panic inducing for both the characters and the reader.

With this book, Brandon Mull has most certainly solidified himself as a major writer in young adult literature. I thought he had with the first two, but this book will definitely do it! This one takes the series to a whole new level and goes places that the other two hadn’t yet gone. He faces issues of loss in this book and handles them well with strong, supporting characters. What I love more than anything is that his two main heroes are two young children! And they’re wonderful characters. Those who loved to hate Seth will continue to love to hate him for his shenanigans and Kendra is just growing up to be amazing!

What more can I say? I was waiting in anticipation for this book for a year and it still exceeded my expectations. Job well done! Go get it! It comes out on April 21st! It would be great for the Once Upon a Time Challenge.

Tomorrow I'll have an interview with Brandon Mull posted! So stay tuned.

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