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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11 Responses

  1. Will keep a look out for the interview as these books sound like fun. All thebest books these days seem to be in the Young Adult section which is now the first part of a book shop I visit.

  2. I think you did good with this review!! I have read the other books and Grip of the Shadow Plague is on my preorder list!! You are so right that many YA authors seem to be coming out with better stories and better characters than many adult books…. these new authors should really help the young want to read again!! (and give enjoyment to us old farts along the way!)

  3. Why have I not read the first two yet?!!

  4. This one was great. 🙂 I couldn’t put it down. And it definitely exceeded my expectations 🙂

  5. The recent growth in YA literature really is an exciting thing. Like Rhinoa, I always visit the children’s and YA part of the bookshop first these days. Hopefully all these great books will encourage more young people to read.

    This series sounds so good. I echo Debi’s words: Why have I not read the first two yet?

    I look forward to the interview!

  6. My golly! That sounded sooo good. Definitely gonna see the interview. -C

  7. Rhinoa, You’re so right! YA authors have really stepped up their game in the past few years and have put out some phenomenal work. Not to say that there aren’t amazing authors and books in the “regular” section of a bookstore, but the YA section really is becoming more and more appealing. The stories are just fantastic and like you, I find myself in that section more and more.

    Deslily, I’m so glad that these YA readers are doing so well and bringing reading back to young people. It makes me so happy when I go to a bookstore and I see the children’s section packed. OK, honestly it makes me a little annoyed at first because they’re loud, but then happy that they’re reading 😉 you didn’t see that 10 years ago.

    Debi, UH, I’ve ONLY been trying to get people to read these since I started blogging!!! So don’t blame me :p Seriously though, read these…you’d love them! I think Annie has the first. If I recall, she reviewed it!

    Becky, Same here. Way better than what I thought it would be and I went into it expecting it to be good. This series has really surprised me. I liked the first book so much that I didn’t think the others would live up to it, but they all have and have in fact surpassed it…though that first one will remain magical for inventing everything.

    Nymeth, Totally agree. It makes me so happy that YA lit just keeps getting bigger and bigger. First of all there are all of these amazing authors that keep emerging that are here just to tell a good, entertaining story which is what we all enjoy. Second, these books are attracting so many new, young readers which makes me so happy. I read these articles about how books are dying out and people don’t read and blah, blah and I just don’t buy it…I think we’re doing better! And I think this surge in YA literature will definitely save reading..And I’ll tell you like I told Debi: I’ve been trying to get people to read this series since I started blogging, so don’t blame me! :p

    Carole, These books are awesome! I absolutely love them and I’ve been a fan of them since they’ve been released. I first learned of them through Orson Scott Card’s review column and fell in love with the series right away. Interview will be up tomorrow!

  8. This sounds really good. I haven’t read a great deal of YA literature or any other type of fantasy books. But, I’m beginning to be intrigued. I’ve just read several of the Narnia books for a class on Lewis and found that I really liked them. I also liked his adult fiction, Perelandra (part of a trilogy). So, this may be a good starting point to delve in.

  9. Lisa, It is really good 🙂 I’ve been a big YA fan for awhile now and this is one of my favorite series to come out in awhile. The whole YA genre is continuing to get better and better…the books are getting to a point where they can be enjoyed by a broader audience with messages for both children and adults and there are those books written for more mature young readers. The first Fablehaven book is a bit more juvenille, but I absolutely loved it. Like most series, it gets progressively darker and more adventurous and this one was just phenomenal! Hope you enjoy them if you pick them up!

  10. […] Interview With Brandon Mull Posted on March 7, 2008 by Chris A big thanks to Brandon Mull, author of the young adult fantasy series Fablehaven, for doing this interview. You can read my review of his new book, Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague, here. […]

  11. i loved this book it was so good gavin is………well weird but anyways i recomend this book

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