I’m excited to start what will be a nearly-weekly series of book reviews!
As I explained earlier this week I think it is important to make sure we are aware of what our kids are reading, especially if you are a Christian parent.
I decided to start by reviewing Fablehaven because it’s one of those books that I have heard a lot of people mention. I have gotten the book out from the library one or two times before but never got around to reading it so I made it a priority this time.
In Fablehaven sister and brother, Kristen and Seth, go to visit their grandparents for a few weeks, they’ve always known their grandparents were a little strange but they saw them so infrequently they couldn’t figure out why.
It isn’t long into their stay before they realize that their grandparents vast estate is actually a preserve for all sorts of mystical creatures, both the safe and the not-so-safe. They slowly learn more about Fablehaven and the creatures that live there until something goes wrong and they need to save their family from powerful evil forces.
From an adult standpoint I enjoyed this book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I would recommend it for everyone. I’m going to share what I liked about the book, what concerns me and what I am planning on doing with my kids as a result.
WHAT I LIKED
LIGHT WINS – this is a story with defined good and bad, it even talks about how the evil is darkness and the good is light and it comes to head in a battle with the light winning. I appreciate how this parallels Jesus defeating Satan.
GREAT VOCABULARY – the book is very well written and has some amazing vocabulary. I have never been a fan of “read through a book and write down any words you don’t know” but if that’s your thing, this is a great book for that!
QUITE DARK – while very well written there are some very dark scenes throughout the book, portions I think would be scary for the sensitive.
TERMINOLOGY – there are a number of words in this book that may be a red flag for some. There are mentions of demons (the main bad guy is a demon) and the dark arts. There is also talk of hexes and magic.
Personally, I struggle when fantasy books take terms from real life (like “demons”), on one hand I think it makes the bad guys more obvious but on the other hand I feel like it may be confusing for kids, so I’m not a fan of that use. I wish there would have been a better way of describing the “demon”, maybe by making him a dragon or something that is more fantasy but known to be a bad character.
TRIGGERS – the story starts out at a wake and talks about the death of grandparents (even says “asphyxiation” and explains how they died because of a gas leak), this could be a trigger for some.
DISOBEDIENCE – one of the characters in the book is repeatedly disobedient and doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. I am okay with flawed characters but wish there would have been more development in this area throughout the book.
NEGATIVE TOWARD RELIGION – there is one quote in the book that was a major red flag in the book for me (page 114), it says: “No mythology or religion that I know of holds all the answers. Most religions are based on truths, but they are also polluted by the philosophies and imaginations of men.”
MISPLACED – so, this is no fault of the book itself but it is actually categorized as a teen and young adult book according to Amazon but, at least in my library, it is shelved in the middle grade section and I don’t think it belongs there.
HOW WE ARE GOING TO APPROACH IT
After hearing so many good things about Fablehaven I was surprised to walk away with such a list of concerns. Like I mentioned, I enjoyed the book as an adult but that being said, I would hesitate allowing my kids to read it on their own. If anything I would like to read this book aloud with my kids and be able to have a discussion as we go through it, especially when we get to that quote on page 114 (though I would still wait a few years before reading it aloud with them).
Down the road when my kids are older and also more grounded in their faith I would be willing to let them read the book independently but want to make sure they know that I am open for discussion about it.
I have only read the first book in the series and have heard they “get better” but I am not sure exactly what that means. As of right now I’m not interested in reading any further but if you are convinced I should, let me know.
Do you have suggestions for what I should review next? Let me know!