Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven. Not as good as Gerald Durrell’s The Talking Parcel.

The rep who brought in the reader for Fablehaven was really excited about it. And, you know, I’m up for reading about sanctuaries for magical animals. Pity then, I started reading about thought – and I’m supposed to care why? It has pretty good reviews on Goodreads, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m getting old. Which is silly because I read plenty of kids’ fantasy. Such a plentitude that I’m probably getting pickier.

The main character, Kendra, was very bland. Her characterisation was, basically, that she didn’t like breaking rules (although she didn’t seem to mind sneaking), in contrast to her younger brother, who was such a rule breaker that he just seemed incredibly stupid. Also, Kendra annoyed me pretty much from the start because she proved to be squeamish around frogs and such – all those things girls are supposed to find icky but I never have.

It did get more exciting, but if I hadn’t felt like I should make an effort to finish it, I wouldn’t have. And I wouldn’t have missed out on much, particularly with the deux ex machina-y ending. Overall, the book was a disappointment.

Why do reps keep raving about kids’ fantasy that I don’t like? Well, they don’t all – I wonder if maybe it’s the ones who don’t read a lot of fantasy. Julie, the Scholastic rep does though, and I can generally rely on her recommendations. In fact, she’s to blame for my Tamora Pierce addiction (my mum’s a school librarian, the reps go round the libraries, Julie raves to my mother, I get bought all four Immortals books at once). Maybe I just need to get pickier about whose recs I trust…

So, sorry Fablehaven, but my favourite book about a sanctuary for magical creatures is still Gerald Durrell’s The Talking Parcel, which actually has a sense of wonder, and all sorts of useful information like how cockatrices don’t like the herb rue. Or weasels. And it has a parrot whose job is to ensure all the poor unused words of the world don’t drop out of existance. Unfortunately it’s out of print, or I would be forcing it on poor innocent children right now.

And by right now, I mean when I’m at work.

Admittedly, I haven’t read it since I was maybe 11? And now I’m too scared to reread it (for what would probably be the ninth time). Also, my poor copy, it is falling apart. It is a much loved book, it is.

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