Fablehaven before I was a librarian. Funny, clever, and fast-paced, with normal children plunked suddenly in the middle of an intensely magical world, this would have been a great recommendation for the (enormous number of) kids who loved fantasy.
Kendra and Seth are going to spend a few weeks with their grandparents while their parents go on a cruise. These grandparents are rather reclusive, but have agreed to watch them.
When they arrive, they find themselves really enjoying staying there (although, mysteriously, the grandmother is absent). The grounds are beautiful, their grandfather is kind and interesting, and there are all sorts of amazing things to keep them entertained.
And then, they discover that their grandparents' home is Fablehaven, a sanctuary for magical creatures, both good and evil, to protect them from extinction. There are a number of these sanctuaries around the world, with caretakers for each one. Their grandfather is the caretaker of Fablehaven and he keeps the creatures living in some sort of harmony, and enforces the rules that bind them all.
But on special occasions, the creatures are allowed to mingle and come up near the house and during that time, the family must retreat inside in order to stay safe. The grandfather warns them that the creatures will try and lure them out, but they absolutely must stay within their room and in their beds.
Of course, it wouldn't be much of a story if they didn't break the rules, now would it? And that's when the action really picks up.
When I announced this book as the winner (in October. . .), Mary commented that she liked the book, but one of the characters was extremely annoying. It took me approximately ten pages to nail Seth as the one she'd been referring to. I just have no tolerance for willfully stupid characters; Seth really really really strained my patience.
There have been so many fantasy books published in the last decade or so, many of which I think are pretty rubbishy. This one, however, is excellent - a great premise, plenty of action, and many clever details. Once I started this one, it was easy to keep reading.
I'm not even particularly a huge fantasy fan, and this one is one I enjoyed from start to finish and that I've continued to think of fondly even months after closing the book (yes, I really did finish it that long ago. . . ).
Copy checked out from my local library