I adore fairies in fiction.
They are some of my favorite things to find inside the covers of a book. Whether they are mossy, grumpy gnomes, malignant pixies, or fluttering sprites, I love them all.
And, precisely because I love reading about them so much, I very rarely find a book that I feel does well with its fairies. Modern authors tend to shy away from the traditional view of fairies and try to put their own ‘unique spin’ on the little creatures.
All too often, their ‘unique spin’ ends up falling flat.
I have, however, run into a few books that did fairies incredibly well. J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is one of my favorites, and I have adored Tinkerbell in all her selfish glory from day one. Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath also did an incredible job portraying fairies, and that is one of many reasons her books hold such an honored place on my shelves.
Just recently, I stumbled across another book about fairies. One that swept me away. Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven was one of the most fascinating, enjoyable modern fairy stories, simply because he let the fairies be fairies. They weren’t little saints gushing about friendship, loyalty, and pixie dust, they didn’t go on quests, and they didn’t have noble hearts and kind souls.
They were vain, vicious, vindictive little pixies, and I loved it.
Kendra is the center-point of this gorgeous book. She and her brother, Seth, are sent to stay with their grandfather on his farm while their parents are out of town. When they arrive, they find the house and grounds are more like a resort than a farm, with a pool, playroom, and lovely gardens. Grandpa Sorensen tells them they can do whatever they like . . . with two exceptions. The barn is off limits, and so are the woods.
Kendra is happy to comply with the rules, but Seth is far more interested in what lies beyond the eaves of the forest. Within a few days, his poking and prying—and her investigation of the clues her grandfather has left her—lead them to discover Fablehaven’s real purpose. The house is the center of a massive preserve, dedicated to the protection and concealment of mystical creatures.
Fairies, as a matter of fact.
But more than fairies live under the shadows of the trees. Naiads, giants, satyrs, trolls, and worse, populate the woods. Fablehaven might be a preserve, but a good deal of its purpose is to protect the outside world from what lives within its boundaries. After an accident involving a fairy, the uneasy peace on the preserve is shattered, and chaos ensues. Kendra quickly finds herself alone, lost in the whirlwind that is Fablehaven, desperate for a way to rescue her family from the dangers surrounding them.
It’s not often that I find a new book that captivates me as much as this one did. Or a book that actually manages to have me glancing over my shoulder as I get ready for work at 4 AM. Fablehaven was just the right combination of creepy and fascinating, and kept me enthralled from cover to cover. I highly recommend it to any fantasy lovers out there, especially those of you who have a thing for fairies.
“The preserves are the final refuge for many ancient and wonderful species,” Grandpa said. “The goal is to prevent these wondrous beings from passing out of existence.”