Book Review: ‘Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star’ by Brandon Mull

Posted: 17 April 2013 in Book reviews
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‘Rise of the Evening Star’ is book 2 in the Fablehaven series. There is no need for me to elaborate on what I initially think of the book as it hasn’t changed from what I felt about the first book (read about it here). In that case, I’ll just get right to it. I should warn you reader, unless you’ve read Book 1, this and the following reviews will be revealing elements from the previous endings. Just a warning. On we go.

Book 2 begins at the end of the following school year. One week to go and Kendra can’t wait. Too bad it wasn’t going to go smoothly. A new student arrives named Casey Hancock. To everyone he appears quite handsome and charming, but to Kendra he looks deformed and grotesque. Little do they know that he is actually a kobold, something akin to a goblin. Neither Kendra or Seth knew why he was there, but he was making a right mess of things. To matters even stranger, a man named Errol Fisk showed up claiming to be a friend of their grandfather’s and able to get rid of the kobold. Of course this was a lie, but it was much too late by the time they found out. He betrays them into stealing a statue of a frog. What is so significant about the frog? It is actually a demon know as Olloch the Glutton. As instructed, Seth fed the thing and then it bit him. Not a good thing. Now Olloch will grow and become more powerful until he eats the person it bit i.e. Seth (Seth finds this out after the get back to Fablehaven). Now that they know Errol is a bad guy, their grandfather has help on the way. The get-a-way is nearly ambushed, but Vanessa (the one sent from their grandfather) is an impressive driver and gets them to Fablehaven safely.

At the preserve, they meet a few new people (as well as learn about Seth’s fate with the demon): Vanessa, Tanu, and Coulter. Vanessa deals in capturing magical animals, Coulter deals with magical relics, and  Tanu is a potion master. They are all there to help locate the relic hidden on the preserve. It is one of five hidden at five secret preserves (Fablehaven obviously being one of the five). They need to locate it before the Society of the Evening Star does. If the Society finds all five, they can use them to unlock Zzyzx, the demon prison (which is a very bad thing). The problem is that no one knows where the relic is hidden. The only clue they have is the general area where Warren (Dale’s brother) had gone before he changed.

Of course many things, both good and bad, happen during this time. Both kids get to learn from the three visitors (although Coulter only shows some things to Kendra and a lot more to Seth) and they also get a special visit from the Sphinx, an enigmatic character. He informs Kendra that she in fact fairykind rather than fairystruck. That means she has been changed and imbued with the same magic the fairies have. That’s the good stuff. Then they learn about the traitor. Someone they know has let Olloch onto the preserve. Seth is safe as long as he stays at the house, but that won’t save him for long. Olloch is growing stronger and bigger by the day. Not to mention a bunch of Vanessa’s creatures got loose and bit everyone. Little did they know that the bites weren’t from the animals.

One night, Seth is woken by Coulter. He convinces Seth to go with him to the area where Warren was before he changed. There they discover a revenant, a creature of darkness that emanates intense fear. Neither of them can move and Seth thinks they are about to die. Suddenly Coulter acts as if he just woke up and has no idea where they are or how they got there. He forces himself to put a pod in Seth’s mouth that envelops him and ultimately saves him from Olloch, who shows up later and swallows him. Everyone believes Seth to be dead when Coulter shows back up at the house completely white like Warren. Something doesn’t seem right though. So a trap is set that supposedly contains the key to the Inverted Tower (where the relic is hidden). When Dale is captured and tries to explain that he went to sleep and woke up there, it all sudden;y makes sense. They attack and try to capture Vanessa, but she soon has control over the house. She is a narcoblix (a vampire like creature that controls people she has bitten when they are asleep). Kendra is the only one who escapes. She tries enlisting help from Lena (who was returned to the pond last book) but gets nowhere. The other naiads even sic Mendigo (a magical, wooden limberjack) on her.

While Kendra is trying to figure out what to do next, Seth is snug inside his cocoon inside Olloch. He surivives off the juice and pulp from his encasement. Before long, Olloch stops moving and eventually he finds himself excreted from the demon (who has once again reverted back to stone). He has no idea what has been happening since he was encased and has no idea where he is. In his search for home, he stumbles upon an abandoned mansion where he is attacked by a whirlwind. He escapes the house and eventually finds himself at the cabin where Warren, Kendra and Mendigo are. Kendra is surprised, but happy to see him alive.

Their next step is to free their grandparents and retrieve the key. When they arrive at the house, the find it being guarded by two imps. They locate Newel and Doren (two satyrs that Seth becomes friends with) and enlist them to find the door to where the brownies live. Seth and Kendra take shrinking potions and after passing a few hurdles, they make it into the dungeon. They quickly locate their grandparents with the help of the goblin keepers. The grandparents tell them what the key looks like and send them off. It is vital that they hurry for if they get big in the dungeon then they are stuck. They make it out just in time. The key is with Vanessa as their grandparents surmised. Seth cleverly steals the key while Kendra creates a diversion for him to escape. They were both nearly caught, but escaped nonetheless.

Now that they have the key, Seth thinks that they should go after the artefact themselves. Kendra of course thinks it’s a daft idea. She would rather find a way to get in touch with the Sphinx. He eventually relents, but it is a trick. Once Kendra leaves the room, he sneaks off with Mendigo (leaving Kendra a note) to battle the revenant. He has with him a bottle of liquid courage in the hopes that it will counter the intense fear enough to pull the nail out of the revenant’s neck and defeat it.

First off, sorry for the length. If you’ve made it this far then congratulations. It got a bit longwinded this time. Anyway. This book introduces a handful of new characters. The first two are Newel and Doren. They are satyrs the Seth has befriended. The love television and frequently make trades with the boy for batteries in order to watch their shows. They love adventure and causing mischief. Because of their fun-loving ways, they are often conflicted when it comes to doing the nobler thing. They are quite good characters though.

Tanu and Coulter are good characters as well. They are quite different as well. Tanu is a pacific-islander and young while Coulter is caucasian and older. How they teach is quite different as well. Tanu gives both kids the same education as he knows both of them are capable. Coulter understands that both kids are capable, but he has a more traditional attitude and will not take Kendra certain places that he feels are not suitable for her (which of course pisses her off). Both men are very knowledgable in their respective crafts.

Then we have Vanessa. As stated in the text, she is a narcoblix. She is conniving and devious, but that doesn’t mean she is all bad. The friendship she strikes up with Kendra is very genuine. In general, she appears very trustworthy. She is personable, which makes it easy for everyone to be fooled by her. She is very smart as well. With her fantastical abilities (controlling bitten people when they are asleep), she is quite the formidable enemy. But there is one thing I will say (just to be mean), as in the words from the third X-Men film, ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ You’ll have to read the book to find out what that means.

The new characters add a new depth to the intrigue of the story. The danger has gotten real and no one can lie idly by the wayside. The story builds quite wonderfully. The main characters are even further developed (I found myself annoyed with Seth often for his stupidity) and their importance to the story displayed. Every relationship has a purpose and every character plays their roles superbly.

What I love a lot with the story is that it isn’t exhausting to read. It is written descriptively enough to envelop you in it without suffocating you. Not to mention how much the story has expanded. It now no longer is confined simply to the preserve, but has moved beyond to other plains. It is really a well done story that surpasses the first book. But there are three more to go (books that is) and I am excited to write about them. I hope you enjoy book two 😉

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