So this time I made sure there more in the series before I started on book one of Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. There are five in the series, all published, and I just finished book three, Grip of the Shadow Plague. Needless to say, I love them! These might be good reading for someone who loved Harry Potter, because although there is no school for wizards, the two protagonists, brother Seth and older sister Kendra, are immersed in magic up to their necks when they visit their grandparents at what turns out to not be a ranch but a magical preserve, sort of like a wlidlife preserve but for magical creatures. Their grandparents are the caretakers, and hope to pass on the job to Seth and Kendra. And so begins their training.
Ok, I just went down the rabbit hole looking for images of the covers, and there is a lot of wonderful fan art, including sculptures, of the different characters in the books, like the lovable golem, Hugo, who is made of earth and twigs and rocks, is about ten feet tall, and can easily carry Seth and Kendra comfortably in his huge palms while running away from baddies to the sanctuary of their grandparents’ house.
So, yes, there are naughty magical creatures as well as friendly ones. But they have just as much right to be there as the benign creatures, and there is a pact at Fablehaven that does not allow any creature to kill another, so that keeps mayhem in check. Sometimes. Of course there are loopholes, and there is a rival organization to the caretakers of such places as Fablehaven, The Society of the Evening Star, who want to do away with all magical preserves and release the power of some really nasty demons upon the world.
Seth and Kendra find themselves battling for the survival of Fablehaven, learning skills from different magical tutors, and gaining special powers as a result of some of these battles. Their parents have no clue what’s really going on, as they are not receptive to the idea of the existence of magic. Too bad! So the kids find themselves forming new bonds with not only their grandparents, but with their tutors, and even with some of the magical creatures. Some of the tutors will turn out to be traitors, but some will be loyal to the death.
This is an engaging, exciting series full of magic, but also down-to-earth enough to include sibling rivalry between Seth and Kendra, and each kid deals with their own age-appropriate challenges that every kid reading this can relate to. Seth is always looking for adventure, so he has a habit of breaking the rules, which gets them all into serious trouble at times. Kendra is book-smart but doesn’t feel brave enough to deal with some of the unexpected challenges thrown at her. She sometimes wonders if it would be better never to have known about Fablehaven and her grandparents’ secret.
Oh, did I mention Mull has written several other series’ as well? When I couldn’t wait for my hold on the next book in the Fablehaven series to come in to the library, I grabbed this one: The Candy Shop War. I mean, how can you resist that title? I couldn’t. If you’re not into fairies, satyrs, and naiads, check out this action, that happens right in town. When a new candy shop opens, pals Nate, Summer, Trevor and Pigeon stop in on their walk home from school. The proprietor, Mrs. White, offers them some free candy if they’ll help out around the store. They willingly agree. At first, she just wants to them give white fudge to all their families and friends, but warns them not to eat it themselves. This seems a little odd, but they do as they are asked, and pretty soon they notice everyone eating the fudge is oblivious to what’s going on around them. Then Mrs. White starts asking them to steal things, artifacts that will assist her in some kind of treasure hunt.
With each new task, the group gets new magical candy to try out, which is fun, but they start to question whether or not they are doing the wrong thing, and whether they should trust this woman. Then along comes another magician, someone they all thought they knew, and the kids have to decide who to trust. It’s not an easy decision, and probably one a lot of children can relate to (minus the magic), trying to figure out which adults in their lives are trustworthy and which are just using them for their own gain.
There are two books in this series, and it’s very different from Fablehaven, although just as entertaining!