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Fablehaven is a fantasy book series by Brandon Mull. It's kinda like Harry Potter... Except it's set in America, there's no Wizarding School, the two main characters are siblings instead of friends, and it replaces the Nightmare Fuel of the Death Eaters with the utter Paranoia Fuel that is the Society of the Evening Star.

...Maybe we should start from the beginning.

The intelligent and measured Kendra Sorenson and her knuckleheaded younger brother Seth are shipped off to spend the summer with their paternal grandparents after their mother's parents are killed in an accident. (Part of their grandparent's will stipulated that a portion of their money be used to send their children on a cruise as a "parting gift.") Reeling from the loss, they don't expect to enjoy the trip much, but are pleasantly surprised to discover that their other grandparents live in a spacious mansion. They've also got a garden filled with more birds, insects, and flowers than anyone they've ever met. But after sipping some of the milk left out for the "birds," they learn the truth: The "birds and insects" are actually fairies! The milk enables them to see them in their true forms. Their grandfather reveals that they are actually caretakers of a wildlife preserve for magical creatures named Fablehaven. It's filled to the brim with colorful fairies, witty and snarky fauns, Gentle Giant golems, and a couple dangerous giants and trolls. Grandpa, along with his assistants Dale and Lena, offers to show the two siblings around the preserve, and begin to teach them the strange and exiciting ways of the magical reserves.

And then everything goes to Hell.

A witch named Muriel nearly unleashes a demon and overthrows the preserve, and the Fairy Queen turns Kendra into an honorary fairy to save her life. But that's only the beginning of the trouble. There's an Ancient Conspiracy called the Society of the Evening Star out to overthrow Fablehaven--and all the other magical preserves--in search of five magical artifacts of immense power, which together make a key to open up a prison full of demons and blanket the world in darkness. They possess infinite patience--they'll spend thousands of years building up their credibility in one place before making a move--and a nearly innumerable number of moles, which pop up in unexpected places. Kendra and Seth, having been dragged into the mess, must quickly discover a new way of life: Nowhere is safe. No one is trustworthy. Anyone Can Die, and anyone can turn on you. The Society possesses near omnipotence, and can pop up to get you at any second. To make matters worse, most of the "magical creatures" quickly reveal themselves to be true animals (or very alien beings), and are nowhere near gentle dewy-eyed beings they are in most fairy tales.

Death and the society await around every corner. Will Kendra and Seth be able to work with their friends and prevent demons from destroying the world? Even moreso--will they survive?

This series provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: In a rare male-on-female example, Kendra is stuck with the satyr Verl as her annoying admirer.
  • Action Grandma: Ruth Sorenson is rarely seen without her crossbow. Thank goodness.
  • All Myths Are True: Kendra and Seth have a very interesting discussion with Lena on this possibility in the first book. By book 5, it seems there are few mythic creatures and beings that don't have real counterparts in the world of "whimsical" beings.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Nero the cliff troll, from the first book, is an oversized, humanoid reptile.
    • In the fourth book, we meet a stupid mountain troll named Udnar.
    • In the fifth book, the Singing Sisters use river trolls as guardians for their lair.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Society of The Evening Star
  • Anti-Villain: The Sphinx has traits of Type I and Type II
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Badass Grandpa: Grandpa and Grandma Sorenson have been working with magical creatures for decades; you do not mess with them. Grandma Ruth is the more obviously bad-ass one, but Grandpa Stan's no slouch either.
    • Coulter Dixon is pretty tough, too, but he's more of The Smart Guy.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Fairies kept indoors at night turn into imps, which are sort of reverse fairies; both are quite vain, but where fairies are aware of how pretty they are and therefore good-natured in a shallow sort of way, imps are just as aware of how ugly they are, which makes them incredibly nasty.
    • This also occasionally happens to the humans in the series--the best example is Grandma's chicken transformation.
  • Barrier Maiden: The five Eternals, which are the second barrier to opening Zzyzx.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The fairies to an extreme.
  • Big Bad: The Sphinx.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Albino!Tanu and Colter at the climax of Rise of the Evening Star. In Tanu's case, it's literal.
  • Big Good: The Sphinx, leader of the Knights of the Dawn. Don't you believe it for one. Damn. Second.
    • The Fairy Queen sometimes qualifies, at least in her benevolent moods.
  • Bishonen: In book 5, Bracken. Tall, willowy, and with tons of beautiful silvery-white hair.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The knapsack in Book 4.
  • Brown Note: Dragons are so awesome, most people get mesmerized just by looking at them. Raxtus is an exception, but he self-identifies as "lame."
  • Casual Danger Dialog: If anything ever fazes Warren, they haven't yet found it. Even when put up out of comission, he still tries to help.
  • Catch Phrase: To Seth, everything is "Awesome!"
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first book is mostly lighthearted (and has a silly dust jacket to match, talking about fog troll dental work), and doesn't generally go beyond "just creepy enough for its target audience." Book 2, Rise of the Evening Star, is a lot darker... and Books 3 and 4, The Shadow Plague and The Dragon Sanctuary, officially hit That's Just Messed Up! territory. Book 5 doesn't stop escalating the stakes until the very end.
  • Character Development: Seth--over the course of the series, he gradually learns to be a little less foolhardy and learns to think things through.
  • Chekhov MIA: Seth never does get to use his treasure from Wyrmroost. He actually realizes this and is highly disappointed by it, but he considers using the growing tower to give Hugo a permanent home.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In Book 5, Grandma and Grandpa Larsen... from all the way back in Book 1!
  • Conjoined Triplets: The Singing Sisters.
  • Crazy Awesome: Patton Burgess is acknowledged as this in-universe. Seth's aiming for it, but he's not there yet.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: All of them. In Rise of The Evening Star it's Errol getting mauled to death by the Guardian for the 'sands of sancity'. Vanessa drops him on purpose when he gets too heavy. In Grip of the Shadow Plague (which is significantly darker) it's several violent deaths in search of the artifact in the Lost Mesa, and then Lena's crushing death at the end. That's only a few examples! All the deaths are gory or sad.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: At the end of book 5: Seth to Graulas and Kendra to Gorgorg
  • Dark Is Not Evil: It sure seems like Dark Is Evil at first--it's the creatures like trolls and imps who are all antagonistic--but as Book 4, Dragon Sanctuary shows, even demons aren't all bad most of the time. A lot of the magical creatures--even the ostentiably "light" ones--fall into an obnoxiously Chaotic Neutral territory anyway.
    • As of Book 5, there are no such things as "neutral" demons. Poor Seth...
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lots of people, Seth, Kendra and Warren come to mind.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: The end of Rise of the Evening Star looks pretty happy. The Mole is under captivity, the Big Good's on top of things, Everybody Lives, and one of the magical artifacts has been recovered. And then you find out: The Sphinx is nowhere near what he appears...
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The end of Book 5. Three demons? Seriously?
    • Earlier, in book 2, we have the scene with the revenant, which may be viewed as even more awesome than the demon-killing in Book 5, considering that Seth had no special powers at the time and far less experience with the magical world.
  • Driven to Suicide: Some of the Eternals are just plain fed up with immortality.
  • Dungeon Crawling : How one gets a key (or a key to a key to a key) out of a place of protection.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the hell everyone goes through, Book 5 finally, finally has an unambiguously happy ending.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted like woah. The only reason Vanessa is accepted "back" is desperation; they still don't wholly trust her. Not to mention all the heck Seth gets.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Lots of trolls and goblins sound "stupid," but that's only because most humans can't speak their language, Duggish.
  • Empty Shell: What happens to victims of the revenant, and to those who use the Oculus unprepared.
  • Enemy Mine: The Sphinx quickly starts working with the Knights once Graulas and Nagi Luna take control of things.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Sphinx.
  • The Fair Folk
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve
  • Fantastic Racism: Centaurs are kind of bastards.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink
  • Freaky Is Cool: Kendra reacts to Raxtus like this, since he's one of the only nice dragons in the series.
  • Gentle Giant: Tanu, the potion-maker. Hugo the golem counts, too.
  • Get It Over With: In Grip of the Shadow Plague, when Patton Burgess defeats the centaur Broadhoof in single combat.
  • Golem: Hugo. He initially starts out as just an "earthen automaton," but thanks to the fairies, he actually becomes a (slowly) thinking being.
  • Go Mad From the Revelation: The Oculus does this. It's a lot like the Crystal Skull, when you think about it.
  • Grand Finale: While Mull is extremely fond of escalating the stakes in each of his epic fantasy climaxes, the final book manages to leave them all in the dust. And every major plot thread is tied off neatly.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Vasilis Sword
  • Half the Man He Used To Be: Raxtus chomps Gavin/Navarog clean in half in Book 4.
  • Have You Tried Not Being A Fairy Dragon: Raxtus. Poor guy.
  • Heel Face Turn: After being The Mole, Vanessa decides to become a bona fide good guy. It's also a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal, because she feels as if the Sphinx abandoned her.
    • The Sphinx also pulls a Heel Face Turn after Graulus takes control of the Society.
    • When the fairies reprogrammed Mendigo to serve the heroes.
  • Heroic Albino: Warren Burgess. He wasn't born an albino; his hair literally went white with shock when he tried to take on the revenant protecting the artifact.
  • Heroic BSOD
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lena in Shadow Plague.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Try reading the books during the 2012 election and NOT laughing at Vanessa Santoro's surname, which is only 2 letters away from that of a certain Pennsylvania ex-Congressman who shall not be named.
  • Idiot Hero: Seth wouldn't be out of place in a Shonen anime, the way he acts. Unlike a lot of shonen heroes, though, Seth regularly gets called for it.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Tanu, Coulter, and Vanessa all stick by Kendra and Seth happily though Vanessa does eventually turn on them. Vanessa and Kendra especially seem to bond in a Cool Big Sis way and she's genuinely happy to see Kendra when she's released.
  • Interspecies Romance: Patton and Lena. Ephira Burgess is later revealed as the tragic victim of one gone wrong. Also, Kendra and Bracken, should their friendship deepen into such. And Mull hints quite strongly that it will.
  • It Got Worse: Rise of the Evening Star is noticably darker, but things really start going downhill in The Shadow Plague.
  • Ironic Hell: The Sphinx's punishment for trying to unleash demons on the world? He becomes one of the Barrier Maidens who keep it closed, meaning he would have to kill himself to see his dream come to pass.
  • Jerk Jock: Word of God is that this was the idea around which the centaurs were designed. And if the centaurs are the nasty jocks who push people around, the satyrs are their easygoing frat boy counterparts.
  • Just Between You and Me: And boy it it a doozy--taking up a whole chapter. Notable in that The Sphinx never really suffers as a result of this particular conversation.
  • Living Bodysuit: The narcoblixes can do this to sleeping people.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Tends to happen with the children of caretakers/Knights; first their parents must find out if their children are caretaker material, and if the answer is "no," they're locked out of the loop forever. However, as Stan notes, ignorance is protection in this case.
  • Kissing Cousins: OK, so nothing ever actually comes of it, but throughout Book 2, Kendra harbors a bit of a Precocious Crush on Warren, who is in fact her distant cousin.
  • Make My Monster Grow: Tanu does this occasionally, as well as the cat/lynx/panther from Book 2.
  • The Masquerade: To most people, magical creatures look like ordinary things; they have a built-in Weirdness Censor. Magic milk, as well as Kendra's fairy-sight, can see through it.
  • Mauve Shirt: A number of them at the start of Book 5. Vincent stands out especially.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Patton Burgess married a naiad; even after becoming "human," she still lived on for a long time without really aging. Kendra and Bracken also fall hard for each other, but as they openly acknowledge, there's a lot against them. During the Grand Finale's denouement, they both acknowledge that they need some time to get to know each other--and Kendra needs time to mature--before they can really solidify anything.
  • The Mole: Great gravy! The Sphinx is the most prominent example, but the first major one is Vanessa, and Gavin, AKA Navarog, shows his True Colors at either the worst or best possible time.
  • The Monolith: There's a reason the Australian preserve is called Obsidian Waste--it's because of the huge obsidian monolith where the Translocator is kept.
  • Mood Whiplash: The series combines Deadpan Snarker-esque humor with plenty of death-defying and Paranoia Fuel. It's simultaneously silly and horrifying.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Coulter, who despite being extremely intelligent and exceptionally gentlemanly, still retains a touch of "misguided chivalry"-style sexism (he won't put a woman in danger). He seems to lighten up as time goes by, though, and eventually seems to grudgingly admit that Kendra (and Ruth!) can hold their own.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Raxtus, the self-proclaimed "lamest of the dragons."
  • Noble Demon: Graulas. He makes Seth into a shadow charmer in Dragon Sanctuary. Unfortunately for Seth, he finds out in the next book that it was mere circumstances that truly kept Graulas' innately evil nature in check, not any genuine desire to restrain himself.
  • Not So Different: Seth and the Sphinx: Both shadow charmers. The Sphinx, however, has a bad case of hubris.
  • One-Gender Race: The Fairies are exclusively female. Though book 4 reveals it wasn't always that way...
    • Despite the fact that Kendra thinks the astrids look neither male nor female, they all turn into big buff men in book 5, so they technically qualify.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • The cat/lynx/panther in Book 2 does this 8 times.
    • Tanu's growth potion.
    • Gavin's dragon form.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Our Vampires Are Different
  • Owl Be Damned: The owl-like astrids in Book 4 are pretty dang creepy, at first.
  • Parental Obliviousness: In spite of all attempts to avert this by the grandparents, since birth Kendra's mother and father have been blissfully unaware of the magical world the rest of the family is deeply ingrained in.
    • It should be noted that in cases where family members do not strike them as being Caretaker material, they deliberately make sure the clues will be hidden. Innocence of the existence of magical creatures is (almost) a 100% foolproof way of being protected from them.
  • Perverse Puppet: Mendigo, Muriel's supernaturally strong puppet minion. After she's gone and her magic fades, he becomes good. But it isn't really a Heel Face Turn, since he has no mind.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Poor Neil and Dougan...
    • Book 5, meanwhile, introduces a whole parcel of characters near the very beginning who get killed just as quickly. Ouch.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Oh Coulter... * sniff*
  • Scaled Up: Gavin/Navarog
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Quite surprisingly averted by Newel and Doren in book five. They stick around for the last battle, fight bravely, and, though their accomplishments are those of secondary characters, fight bravely and survive. Before the final battle, they do mention they know they are going to their probable deaths and would have ditched long ago if not for some pesky nobility that snuck into their characters. Yet they still come out with some great wingers even during all this--and while some of it is to help keep spirits up and the like, some of it is just them. Their battle cry is "for Frito-Lay" after all...
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Kendra's the smart, thoughtful sibling who doesn't like taking risks; Seth's the obnoxious one with more energy than brains. In the fourth book, it becomes literal yin yang, as Kendra embodies light by being fairykind and Seth embodies darkness by being a shadow charmer.
  • Sleep Mode Size: Olloch the Glutton from the Fablehaven series. To contain him, he was shrunk into a tiny stone statue of himself. If you feed him, he awakens, starts eating anything in his path, and grows at an incredible rate. He only reverts to statue form if he eats the person who fed him (though apparently he doesn't shrink again). At the beginning of the second book, Seth gets tricked into feeding Olloch, who eventually catches up with him and swallows him. Fortunately, at the time he gets eaten, Seth is wearing an impenetrable cocoon, so Olloch reverts to statue form and Seth passes through the digestive system and escapes with his life.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Sphinx had an unstoppable plan, with every contingency planned, against which the heroes were powerless - except that they never anticipated that Seth would inadvertently free the demon Graulas, causing them to lose control of the plan.
  • Stable Time Loop: The Chronometer from Book 3, temporarily bringing Patton Burgess into the present day--which leads him to Write Back to the Future. This also allows the characters to visit him in the past a few times in book 5.
  • Surprise Creepy: Damn kid-friendly covers.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: You never know when the Society is spying on you. They eventually gain the Oculus, which literally lets them see anything.
  • Taken for Granite: Happens several times. Dale is briefly turned into a life-sized lead statue. Olloch the Glutton is also trapped as a statue until someone feeds him. When he eats that person, he reverts back to statue form.
  • Those Two Guys: Just in case things are getting too angsty, you can count on the satyrs Newel and Doren to pop in to provide a bit of Plucky Comic Relief.
  • Threshold Guardians: The dungeons are typically full of them.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Seth throws Vasilis to kill Nagi Luna. Possibly Justified in that the sword seems to have a life of its own, and it told Seth to throw it.
  • Trauma Conga Line
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Sphinx sees his intentions as good, but according to the Fairy Queen he's also driven by a lust for power and control.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Bracken--justified because he's a unicorn. Also Warren, when he was trapped as an albino.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Some of the Eternals haven't dealt with immortality very well at all.
  • The Woobie: Raxtus from Book 4 is one of these in-universe; Kendra's initial reaction toward him after first hearing his story is a strong desire to hug him.
  • Write Who You Know: Word of God admits that his real-life little brother is impetuous in the same way Seth is, and while they're not exactly the same person, they're very close.
  • Xanatos Roulette: Predicting the Society is an exercise in futility.