Book Review: ‘Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary’ by Brandon Mull

Posted: 29 April 2013 in Book reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I won’t lie. When it comes to reviewing a series that you enjoy, it makes it difficult to find anything new and interesting to say about it as an introduction. As a consolation, this is the second to last in the series. It’s almost over.

One would think that by removing oneself from a place of danger, the danger would significantly decrease. Not so. When you are significant as Kendra is, danger is ever present. What makes her so special? Besides the fact that she is fairykind, she possesses the ability to return power to magical objects that have exhausted their power. She is vital in the Society’s plan to open Zzyzx. So it really shouldn’t have been any surprise when danger came knocking. That is precisely why she had guards watching over her. But not even they could have been prepared for what happened next.

During the week, Kendra volunteered at a rec centre. One day, her boss came to her to get her opinion on a project he had put together for the kids. It involved sticking her hand inside a box and guessing what the items were. The last box ended up pricking her finger. A couple days later, Kendra was invited to his office. She was greeted by her doppelgaenger. Unbeknownst to the Knights, the Society had started employing the use of stingbulbs. Stingbulbs are prickly fruit that will grow into the person pricked (which then only last about three days or so) and were long thought extinct. They obey the orders of whoever grew them. Her boss was a stingbulb and with this new stingbulb creation of her, he is able to kidnap her and none would be the wiser. Except Seth. He could sense something was off. He tried to get Warren to help, but when he showed up the fake Kendra killed herself.

Somewhere else, the real Kendra was being transported to some unknown location. Her capture was a lectoblix (a person that drains the vitality out of others to remain young) named Torina. Being a captive wasn’t all bad. She wasn’t locked in a cell and given stale water and crusty bread. In fact, just the opposite. Then the Sphinx showed up. He had with him the Oculus, the item from one of the five secret preserves. It is the all-seeing eye, capable of seeing anything, anywhere. They plan on conducting a dangerous experiment to see if she is capable of using it. She does so (quite unwillingly) and only survives and lets go after seeing the fairy queen (who tells her to let go). The Sphinx is impressed. They intend on taking her with them the following morning, but they are to be disappointed. After someone knocks on her door, she finds a knapsack (that is in actuality an extra-dimensional storage compartment) and a stingbulb. She is instructed to prick herself, wait for the stingbulb to grow, give it instructions and then get as far away from there as possible. She does so (taking one of the other prisoners along) and is soon back in Fablehaven.

While Kendra is held captive, her family is mourning her death. They hold a funeral and Seth is removed to Fablehaven for his safety. A detective (the one who finds and gets her back to the preserve), Trask, is put on the case to determine what actually happened. Then Maddox shows up. He had been sent to the Brazilian secret preserve to find the artefact, but was not heard from for ages. It is soon discovered that he is actually a stingbulb (which he had confessed to Vanessa in a ploy to get her to help the Society again) and it is speculated that Kendra might actually not be dead. They contact Trask who finds and returns her (as stated in the previous paragraph).

Once they are together at the preserve, they realise they time is no longer their friend. They need to locate the remaining artefacts to keep the Society from achieving their aim. That means going into the Hall of Dread. It is where the most dangerous magical criminals are kept. It is also where Patton hid the secret to finding the artefacts. They discover that the translocator (which can transport people between known places instantly) is in the preserve in Australia, but the key to the vault is in Wyrmroost, a dragon sanctuary closed to humans. The key to the sanctuary is a unicorn’s first horn. There is such a horn a Fablehaven, but the centaurs have it and they won’t give it to them. They try to keep hope that they can find another one, but Seth another idea.

Down in the Hall of Dread, Seth starts hearing voices. At first no one believes him, but once he gets fixated on one door they realise he might be serious. Only after another visit with Graulas does he learn that he is actually a shadow charmer. A shadow charmer is a being who has an intense connection with darkness. He can understand beings of darkness and cannot be manipulated by them. Without Seth’s consent, Graulas initiates him as one and sends him off with Nero (the troll) to retrieve the horn. It wasn’t an easy task, but as a shadow charmer he had more of a chance stealing than anyone else did (because he can’t feel the intense guilt it would give).

Now that they have the horn, it is now time to go to Wyrmroost. The sanctuary is guarded by a heavy distractor spell which Kendra alone can navigate them through. Inside the sanctuary, they meet with Agad, a wizard and the custodian of Wyrmroost. He explains to them the laws and other rules of the sanctuary and helps as best he can. Once they discover exactly what they are looking for, where it is, and where they can go to discover how to access it, they begin their journey. It had always been understood that Wrymroost was incredibly dangerous, but it is only during their journey that they truly begin to understand why. Dragons, giants, griffins, and many other creatures more dangerous than the next. They were almost eaten by a dragon after interrupting its hunt, but later are attacked by griffins and a dwarf who take them to Thronis, the largest giant in the world who controls the weather in the sanctuary. The giant wants to eat them, but instead lets them live as long as they retrieve some items from the dragon temple for him. To ensure they keep their promise, he fits them with collars that choke them should they lie.

Meanwhile, Kendra (who escaped in the knapsack with the injured Warren) seeks out the fairy queen’s shrine with the aid of Raxtus, the son of the great dragon king. He was once a ward of the fairy queen and as such is able to take her to the shrine. She has a lengthy discussion with the queen after which she instructed her on how to get to the dragon temple. Now with the aid of Astrids (disgraced former bodyguards of the fairy queen who now resemble owls with human faces) as informants, Kendra has Raxtus take her to the entrance of the dragon temple where she finds the rest of the group including Seth (who had stowed away in the knapsack).

I’ll leave off there to give you reader the wonderful opportunity to experience the last 90-odd pages of the book.

I love the development of Seth’s abilities. I’ve always been a fan of bad guys and creatures of darkness (there is no limit to what you can do with them creatively while there is with good guys). While Seth is not a bad guy, his ability to meddle in darkness has intensified in this book. He can communicate with dark beings, see invisible objects, conceal himself in shadows, speak the languages of darkness, and cannot be debilitated by the tactics of such creatures. Plus, with his constant touch, other people can also not be affected by them (like with the intense fear). Such awesome abilities.

In this book there are a few more characters that are introduced. Trask is a detective and Mara is a recurring character that I didn’t mention from the last book. There isn’t much to saw about either of them (and no real reason to). There are also Cody and Haden, the two guys that Torina sucked most the life out of, and Thronis, the sky giant. The only new characters that we meet again in the next book are Raxtus the dragon, Agad the wizard, and Torina the lectoblix. All three have been around for many years although only Agad and Raxtus have been around for centuries.

Raxtus is a dragon saved by fairy magic that made him smaller and significantly less dangerous than other dragons. His breath makes things grow and sometimes heals rather than breath fire or the like. He has very low self-esteem, but tries to be as helpful as possible. He has a kind heart.

Agad is the custodian of Wyrmroost and a wizard. The interesting thing about wizards is that true wizards used to be dragons. When they forsake their dragon forms, their magic is intensified (which is why they did it). The can normally transform to a human avatar, but only forsaking the dragon form heightens their magical ability. This is what Agad did a very long time ago.

And Torina. She is very vain. She hates wrinkles and tries to not take more than she needs, but the fact that she has been around for so long means that now it takes much more to attain the desired results for so long. Though she knows when Kendra is merely saying words, flattery always seems to work with her. As long as you compliment her and tell her what she longs to hear, you will be safe (sort of).

This book once again adds to the series making it even better. There are a few unexpected twists that add to the intrigue. Like the others, the book is fast paced and never has a dull moment. The characters are unique and diverse and the writing is top-notch. I am positive that you will enjoy this fourth part in this series as much as I did. And with that, enjoy 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s