It seems perhaps redundant to write a review about a series that has been on the bestseller lists for a while. However, I was so thoroughly enthralled by the series that I can't help but write an entry for the latest books to completely eat up hours of my day!
Fablehaven is about two children, Kendra and Seth, who are preparing for a boring two weeks when they are sent to stay with their grandfather while their parents go on a cruise. Their grandfather severely restricts their access to the seemingly unending grounds to the yard (filled with rare and exotic butterflies) and the house. Seth's rebellion and Kendra's curiosity lead them to discover that the preserve is dedicated to the protection of magical creatures that have been gradually pushed off their lands by ever expanding human development; Fablehaven, the name of the preserve their grandfather owns, is home to creatures such as fauns, fairies, naiads and centaurs. Once their grandfather sees that they are open to the wonder and magic of Fablehaven, he includes them on adventures (and they have some of their own without his permission, of course) that grow in danger and excitement as well as consequence to the magical and nonmagical world.
I won't reveal any more about the plot because I would absolutely hate to spoil any of the many plot twists. The characters are perfect, the suspense gripping and the descriptions are so complete, I can see them in my head clearly. The battle and action scenes were so vivid, I had no trouble following every thrilling move (and biting all my fingernails off in the process).
For someone who has read more than their fair share of YA and children's fantasy, this book took me completely by surprise. I literally read the entire first book in one evening, contemplated calling out sick the following day so I could buy and read the second book and then went out and promptly purchased the third book to tear through the third night.
I loved that Brandon Mull doesn't needlessly kill characters to which the reader has grown attached and that he manages to give weight and proportion to even the slightest of characters. I particularly loved Kendra- I often have trouble with the fact that girls are typically (not always, I know, Mr. Pullman) given supporting roles and if they're given lead roles, they're either the damsel in distress or belligerently boyish. Kendra is all girl and yet strong, courageous and her character traits (ones at which a more aggressive heroine would scoff) are what end up saving Fablehaven time and again.
I loved all three books.
I can barely wait until April 2009.