Brandon Mull

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Kendra and Seth know they are being dropped at their grandparents’ house because their parents are going on a cruise without them. They don’t even know their Sorenson grandparents very well. “They’re hermits,” Kendra says. “Can’t we come on the cruise?” Seth asks. “We could hide in the lifeboats. You could sneak us food.” But their parents aren’t buying it and all too soon, their parents have left them behind in this big, old fashioned house situated on an enormous piece of property.

Grandpa Sorenson immediately comes up with some rules:

Keep out of the woods (ticks, Grandpa explains), keep out of the barn (too much rusty old farm equipment), and above all, don’t drink the milk that the hired hand sets out in pie tins all over the estate (it’s for the tons of hummingbirds and butterflies that seem to live on the property).

But this is a novel, so very soon, Kendra and Seth (especially Seth) have broken the rules and revealed Grandpa’s secret: The house and the property are like a wildlife sanctuary … only it’s a preserve for magical creatures, and he is the caretaker. Human kind has come to dominate the world of enchanted creatures and most have fled to refuges like Fablehaven. And like wildlife, the creatures aren’t always cute, safe and cuddly; along with the fairies and brownies, Fablehaven is host to witches, trolls, imps and a particularly evil entity known as Bahumet. The more dangerous creatures are banned from the lawns around the house, so the humans reside there in relative safety.

On one night of the year, however, those creatures can come out of the woods … and they do. This Midsummer night, Grandpa orders Kendra and Seth to their attic room, knowing they’ll be safest there. He tells them: Stay under the covers, use earplugs, don’t believe what you hear, and whatever you do, don’t open the windows.

Do Kendra and Seth obey Grandpa’s rules? Not bloody likely …

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. There can be great protection from exact obedience. How is this principle reinforced for Seth? For Kendra?
  2. Kendra is generally a rule keeper, while Seth is a rule breaker. How did their attitudes evolve over the course of the book?
  3. Consequences serve an essential role for maintaining order and justice and harmony. How do laws help to keep order in Fablehaven? How are Kendra and Seth affected by the consequences of their decisions?
  4. It can be a challenge to find the courage to do what we fear most. What enables Kendra to do something that terrifies her?
  5. Many of the creatures in Fablehaven have roots in various mythologies, particularly Greek. Can you identify which creatures come from which mythologies?
  6. Several of the creatures of Fablehaven personify specific attributes. What do the fairies seem to personify? The satyrs? The cliff troll? What are the strengths and weaknesses of those characteristics?
  7. Lena spends part of her life as a naiad, in an unchanging state. What aspects of mortality does she like? What does she dislike? How do you think she feels about being returned to the water? Was it fair for the fairies to do that?
  8. Fablehaven exists to help protect and conserve vanishing magical species. Why is that worthwhile? Why do you suppose Grandpa Sorenson even wants to protect the dangerous creatures?
  9. There is a promise at the front of the book that none who enter Fablehaven will leave unchanged. How do their experiences at Fablehaven change Seth and Kendra?


Chocolate rosebuds and milk (from Viola the cow)

If you liked this book, try

  • Skellig by David Almond
  • Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Basye
  • Darkside by Tom Becker
  • The Fairy-tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) by Michael Buckley
  • The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 1) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
  • Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori
  • Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
  • Charmed Life (The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Book 1) by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Wizard’s Map (Tartan Magic Trilogy, Book 1) by Jane Yolen

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.