Okay, I can finally come up for air. I gave myself some books for my birthday. I had heard about this series and saw my eight year old daughter reading one and thought, "Why not?" Good choice, it turns out. A good fantasy on par with the Harry Potter series and arguably better because it has a lighter feeling throughout. That's not to say that the conflict isn't gripping; the good guys catch breaks in every book to keep going but right to the end it always seems the forces of evil are a step ahead and can't be stopped.
So for a brief once-over of each book without resorting to spoilers...
Fablehaven Siblings Kendra and Seth are sent to their Grandpa Sorenson while their parents go on a cruise. He gives them strict instructions to stay in the yard. Kendra is more than happy to oblige, but her brother Seth doesn't see the point of obeying rules without an explanation why. They both start noticing strange people and events. Finally their Grandpa lets them in on the family secret; he is a caretaker of a magical preserve where fairies, satyrs, centaurs and all kinds of magical creatures live, hidden from the rest of the world. When Seth goes poking around where he shouldn't, a series of mishaps unleashes a demon that could destroy Fablehaven.
Rise of the Evening Star Kendra has been blessed/cursed with the ability to see magical creatures when ordinary people can't. Trouble brewing at her school leads Kendra and Seth to seek help from a mysterious stranger that seems to have their best interest at heart. Unfortunately, not all people who are aware of magical creatures want them on preserves. Some, especially those of the secret society of the Evening Star, want all creatures, good or bad, released on the world at large. Kendra and Seth learn that they have to be careful about who to trust and who to avoid. Seth is tricked into unleashing a demon that won't stop until it eats the person who awakened it. Seth is on the menu.
Grip of the Shadow Plague
Just when Kendra and Seth thought things would settle down at Fablehaven, a strange malady spreads among the magical creatures. Once benign races start turning aggressive, dark, and dangerous. Even some of their friends are changed into shadowy beings unable to communicate. With the Evening Star society threatening to find artifacts to release a slew of demons, the plague has to be contained, or better yet, cured. Unfortunately, no one has a clue where to start.
Secret of the Dragon Sanctuary
The race is on to recover hidden artifacts that will unlock a demon prison. Who will get there first? The members of the evil Evening Star society or the Knights of the Dawn, an order of magical fighters trying to protect mankind from certain doom? The artifacts are all over the globe and one of them is guarded by a whole preserve inhabited by fierce dragons. Kendra and Seth and a group of trusted associates attempt to beat the Evening Star. On top of the obvious danger, they suspect that there is a traitor among them, but who could it be?
Keys to the Demon Prison
The Evening Star society has all the artifacts, but before their leader, The Sphinx, can go forward with his plan to open a demon prison, Seth unwittingly heals a dangerous demon at Fablehaven and this demon has plans of his own. The Knights of the Dawn are weakened by repeated betrayals and losses. Kendra, with fairy powers, and Seth, with shadow powers, split up to try to find a way to stop the inevitable horde from wreaking havoc.
I liked this series and I can recommend it for fantasy readers of all ages. The characters are distinctive, consistent, and the human characters have flaws and failings that make them believable. The magical creatures are well thought out. The good ones are endearing and the bad ones are wicked cool. The books have discussion questions in the back that encourage families to discuss universal values and moral dilemmas. I really lucked out. Sometimes if I buy a book before reading it first, I regret it later and not just from buyer's remorse. I didn't have that disappointment here. Give it a shot.