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Literature / Fablehaven

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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 a Supernature Preserve instead of a Wizarding School, the two main characters are siblings instead of friends, and it replaces the Nightmare Fuel of the Death Eaters with the Paranoia Fuel that is the Society of the Evening Star. So never mind.

... 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 of 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.


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 omnipresence, 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?

The series consists of five books:

  • Fablehaven (2006)
  • Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star (2007)
  • Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague (2008)
  • Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary (2009)
  • Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison (2010)

A sequel series, Dragonwatch, consists of:

  • Dragonwatch (2017)
  • Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King (2018)
  • Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle (2019)
  • Dragonwatch: Champion of the Titan Games (2020)

An unnamed fifth and final Dragonwatch book is set to release later in 2021.

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.
  • Aborted Arc: The djinn in Fablehaven's dungeon is built up like one of the many Chekhov's Guns in the series, with a clearly laid-out set of rules and a direct tie to a main character's backstory; but as of the first book of Dragonwatch, it's never been referenced again.
  • Action Mom: Ruth Sorenson is rarely seen without her crossbow. Thank goodness.
  • Affably Evil: Nero may be a greedy brute, but he's always polite, in his own oily way, and he never takes action against the heroes. When Seth fails his climbing challenge, Nero makes it a point to save him from a great fall, rationalizing that having come as far as he did in the challenge Seth earned a victory.
    • Torina in the fourth book. She's always dressed to the nines and is quite friendly with Kendra while she's being held prisoner in Torina's house. However, she's a member of the Society of the Evening Star. She's also a lectoblix who drains people's life force to keep herself young and quite happily seduces unsuspecting young men for this purpose.
  • 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 mountain troll named Udnar and a hermit troll named Bubda.
    • In the fifth book, the Singing Sisters use river trolls as guardians for their lair.
  • Amplifier Artifact: The revenant's nail. After Seth pulls it out in the second book, Navarog takes it and gives it to Ephira, giving her the power to corrupt creatures of light and kicking off the third book's titular plague.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Averted in the last book, where the climactic battle between Good and Evil has almost no fatalities, and a few who were assumed to be dead earlier turn out to be alive after all.
    • Played straight with Lena, Dougan, Coulter, and Mendigo
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Seth can telepathically speak to the undead, become invisible in even slight darkness, speak demonic languages, and potentially (although he never does so) project fear, lower the temperature in a room, and cause dizzy spells. He's unquestionably one of the good guys. Although it's deconstructed a bit, as even his own family is worried about him going dark side and everyone else is amazed that a guy like him is on their side.
  • Bag of Holding/Hammerspace: The transdimensional knapsack.
  • Bait the Dog: Graulas. Helping Seth and acting as an ally was all just a plot to gain his trust. After Seth healed him, he promptly overthrew Fablehaven and joined up with Nagi Luna to open the demon prison.
  • 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, who are the second barrier to opening Zzyzx.
  • Batman Gambit: The Fairy Queen and her subjects pull one on the entirety of the demons of Zzyzx when she lets them enter her realm, as she knows they will not be able to resist destroying it. Once they are inside, they realize that every other exit has been destroyed, and the Fairy Queen has closed off the entrance, trapping them again. To add insult to injury, the Fairy Queen has moved into Zzyzx, intending to make it her new realm.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kendra is a sweet, hesitant girl who hates touching weapons. From the second book on, she has access to an almost god-like power that enhances creatures or objects of light and repels darkness. Demons fear her, and for good reason. The best example comes in Book 5... after Zzyzx is opened and Seth is wounded, Kendra borrows Vasilis and cuts the Demon King's head off. Yes, Kendra just killed the King of Demons.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The fairies to an extreme. It's noted more than once that light and dark creatures do not correspond to good and evil, no matter how much it seems that way. Even the demons are bound by their own honor code.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Albino!Tanu and Coulter 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.
  • Bishōnen: In book 5, Bracken. Tall, willowy, and with tons of beautiful silvery-white hair.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The knapsack in Book 4. It's actually an entrance to an extra-dimensional room, making it quite useful for transporting supplies, very heavy metal eggs, or injured party members.
  • Breath Weapon: Dragons. While we see a few breathing fire, most have a more unique breath weapon. Navarog breathes molten metal, Siletta breathes poison, and dragon king Celebrant is described as having at least five separate breath weapons (one made of pure energy is used on Brogo in the fifth book). Subverted with Raxtus, whose breath makes plants grow.
  • 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."
  • Butt-Monkey: Warren and Dale experience this at different levels. Dale is often harmed or rendered incapable of helping the team, e.g. turned to lead, turned into a shadow, holed up in the barn when Graulas destroys the treaty, "Dale, I'm sorry you're in a net". And if one of the Knights gets hurt on a mission, it's probably Warren. He's been stabbed, clawed with harpy venom, trapped in an extradimensional space, turned into a mute albino—you name it. The number of injuries he sustains throughout the series—and the fact that he survives all of them is downright incredible.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: If anything ever fazes Warren, they haven't yet found it. Even when he's out of commission, he still tries to help.
  • Catchphrase: 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: Most of the major characters have at least a little. Notably,
    • Seth goes from a reckless kid in search of fun to a more serious young man who knows how to take calculated risks and think through his actions (usually).
    • Kendra gradually sheds her hesitant, stickler-for-rules nature from the first book and learns to be more confident and decisive.
    • Hugo starts out as a mindless golem who only obeys orders. After being given free will at the end of the first book, he gradually develops a great deal of autonomy and the beginnings of his own personality, even going so far as to disobey orders he used to follow without question.
  • Chekhov's Armory: A truly spectacular number of artifacts, characters, and references from the original books end up coming back later in unexpected ways. A few of them even cross into Sequel Hook territory and don't get used until Dragonwatch; some examples include the protection around people unaware of magical creatures being weaponized in the climax, and Seth finally getting to use one of the two statues he was given.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The revenant's nail turns out to be this in the third book.
    • Early in Dragonwatch, Seth tricks his cousin into venturing into one of the dangerous areas of Fablehaven. However, since that cousin is Locked Out of the Loop and has no idea what he's doing, the treaty still protects him and it's Seth who is considered to blame. At the climax of the book, Seth exploits the same loophole to allow his cousin to walk past dozens of furious dragons to retrieve the scepter.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In Book 5, Grandma and Grandpa Larsen... from all the way back in Book 1! The pair faked their deaths, which led to Kendra and Seth's introduction to Fablehaven, in order to work as moles at Living Mirage, the fifth and final secret preserve.
  • Combat Tentacles: The strips hanging off of Ephira's torn dress serve as this.
  • Conjoined Twins: The Singing Sisters are triplets conjoined at the wrists.
  • 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.
    • It's never specified how Rosa died, but considering it involved a few hundred zombies an a dragon's skeleton it couldn't have been pretty.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: At the end of book 5: Seth to Graulas and Kendra to Gorgrog.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Though "prison escape clause" would be more accurate; invoked and taken to its logical extreme. The magic used to create Zzyzx could only hold together if there was a way to open it and someone knew what that way was. Faced with this glaring weakness, the prison's creators went for the next best thing and made the process of opening Zzyzx as difficult and dangerous as possible, with five separate magical artifacts that served as keys hidden in trap-riddled vaults on secret preserves scattered all across the globe. In addition, some of those artifacts were designed to be themselves complicated and/or dangerous to use, and even once one had all of them, the actual process of using them to open Zzyzx was time-consuming and highly risky. Furthermore, the seal on Zzyzx was also tied to the lives of the Eternals, humans who had been granted Immortality and spent millennia preparing to defend themselves against anyone who tracked them down. Not content with these measures, Zzyzx's creators then went the extra mile and prepared a contingency plan for the day when someone inevitably succeeded in opening it.
  • 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 all the time. A lot of the magical creatures — even the ostensibly "light" ones — fall into an obnoxiously Chaotic Neutral territory anyway.
    • As of Book 5, there are no such things as "neutral" demons. Poor Seth...
    • Seth himself: As a shadow charmer, he has a lot of dark-themed powers and enjoys the friendship and loyalty of dark creatures, but he's unquestionably one of the heroes.
    • There's also a distinction drawn by some of the caretakers between "dark" and "evil". The argument is that a demon or troll or goblin or whatever does not destroy because it's evil, but because it's a dark creature and that's what dark creatures do, whereas a dark dragon might be considered evil because it chooses to destroy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Seth, Kendra and Warren come to mind.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The end of Rise of the Evening Star looks pretty happy. The Mole is in 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, far less experience with the magical world, and was armed with only a pair of pliers.
  • 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 skepticism Seth deals with whenever he suggests a risky course of action, usually accompanied by references to his reckless mistakes from Book 1.
  • 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.
    • Dragonwatch also has more than a few demons that wish to see the dragons thwarted, out of revenge if nothing else. Jubaya and Talizar are the first to appear, with Jubaya providing information to Kendra and Talizar offering to tutor Seth, and both are very honest about being entirely self-interested. The heroes don't take the offer in the first book, but it's implied they might later.
  • Face Stealer: Patton once wore goblin skin to sneak into a dragon's lair disguised as a goblin.
  • False Flag Operation: The Society's Modus Operandi and one of the themes in the books. Set up a threat, and rescue them to gain trust. Errol, Vanessa, and the Sphinx all play this out.
  • Fantastic Fragility: It's evidently a rule of magic that everything which has a beginning must also have an end. This is why Zzyzx was made with keys: By leaving one specific and extremely complex way to open the prison, its builders were able to ensure that it couldn't fail in any other way.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: The series revolves around this concept, particularly the first book.
  • Fantastic Racism: Centaurs are kind of bastards. Dragons see humans the way humans see mice. And everyone(faeries, dragons, spirits...) hates Golems, of all things, for no apparent reason.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Doren and Newel are satyrs who serve as the series's Plucky Comic Relief. The third book also introduces Verl as a nerdy satyr who becomes Kendra's Abhorrent Admirer.
  • Fingore: Patton breaks a centaur's finger during a fight to convince said centaur to admit defeat.
  • Freaky Is Cool: Kendra reacts to Raxtus like this, since he's one of the only nice dragons in the series.
  • From Bad to Worse: Rise of the Evening Star is noticeably darker, but things really start going downhill in The Shadow Plague.
  • Gambit Roulette: Predicting the Society is an exercise in futility.
  • 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 becomes an independent being and gradually develops his own personality.
  • 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.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Raxtus chomps Gavin/Navarog clean in half in Book 4.
  • Harping on About Harpies: A few appear in the fifth book.
  • Have You Tried Not Being A Fairy Dragon: Raxtus. Poor guy.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: While other dragons have badass Breath Weapons, the ability to freeze humans with just a glance, and enormous size, Raxtus is small, shiny, and has sharp claws. In Book 5, we find out that his shiny scales are almost as hard as his father's, the dragon king, whose scales are even harder than the seemingly-impenetrable adamant, making his nearly-impenetrable. And his teeth and claws are almost as sharp.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After being The Mole, Vanessa decides to join up with the good guys. It's also a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal, because she feels as if the Sphinx abandoned her when he left her in the Quiet Box.
    • The Sphinx also pulls a Heel–Face Turn after Graulus and Nagi Luna take control of the Society.
    • When the fairies reprogrammed Mendigo to serve the heroes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lena in Shadow Plague.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Seth's two best friends at Fablehaven, the satyrs Newel and Doren.
  • Humanity Ensues: Lena, Ephira for a time, and the wizards.
  • Idiot Hero: Seth wouldn't be out of place in a Shōnen anime, the way he acts. Unlike a lot of shonen heroes, though, Seth regularly gets called on it.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Vasilis. It's briefly mentioned that it's one of five similar swords, though the remaining four have not yet appeared or even been properly mentioned.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Tanu, Coulter, and Vanessa all form a strong bond with Kendra and Seth 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 also comes out in Book 5 that Vanessa likes Warren, so there are shades of this between them, though not as obvious as with Kendra and Bracken.
  • 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.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Society member Christopher Vogel finds a bar of gold lying about and takes it with him. It was Nero's gold, which the satyrs had stolen earlier, and an incredibly pissed Nero beats the crap out of him to take it back.
  • 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. She actually does kiss him once, though it's only in the hope that her fairykind status might bring him out of his catatonic state.
  • Living Bodysuit: The narcoblixes can do this to sleeping people.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Of the three eternals, Marcus is clearly Who Wants to Live Forever?, and Civia is Properly Paranoid and regards her immortality as a duty, Roon, though never met while he was alive, seemed to be this, getting together a group of people to hunt and fight all sorts of monsters, and to continue these hunts because he was immortal.
  • 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.
  • 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: Several Knights are named and accompany them on missions, like Dougan, Vincent, Aaron and Mara. Some Society troops also have minor importance, like the Kobold and Errol.
  • 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.
    • Kendra's considering becoming an Eternal in part to avert this trope.
  • The Mole: Great gravy! The Sphinx is the most prominent example, but the first major one is Vanessa, and Gavin (a. k. a. 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.
  • Monster Progenitor: Ephira the tree spirit, the first creature corrupted by Kurisock's dark power, had been corrupted for a while before finding the Amplifier Artifact that allowed her to spread the Shadow Plague.
  • 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 Card: One of the minor villains carries around a bunch of fake business cards and even gives a few to Seth and Kendra.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Raxtus, the self-proclaimed "lamest of the dragons."
  • Mystical White Hair: Bracken has this.
  • Noble Demon: Subverted with 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.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The fairy queen is actually a unicorn. Justified in that it's meant to be a secret.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Thankfully averted. The adults know that a creature that the underage can see but the adults can't is completely plausible on a magical preserve.
    Tanu:Just because I can't see it doesn't mean you don't.
  • Not So Different: Seth and the Sphinx: Both shadow charmers. The Sphinx, however, has a bad case of hubris.
  • Ominous Owl: The owl-like astrids in Book 4 are pretty dang creepy, at first.
  • 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, being resurrected into a stronger, larger and more fearsome form every time it's killed.
    • Tanu's growth potion allows him to do this, nearly doubling his size and giving him the strength to go toe-to-toe with the monstrous final form of the aforementioned panther.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Downplayed with Vasilis. It's heavily implied that the sword has a level of sentience and only allows people who have an affinity for its power to use it—and it takes to some people more strongly than others. Seth gets along with it pretty well, but it's not until Kendra gets their hands on it that Vasilis shows what it's really capable of.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different:
    • Centaurs are a typical Proud Warrior Race and skilled and powerful fighters, but they're also arrogant jerks who think they should naturally be in charge and are uninterested in helping anyone but themselves, even when the fate of the world is on the line. Every character who has expressed an opinion has said they dislike dealing with them.
    • At least one alcetaur — human above and moose below — is among the inhabitants of Wyrmroost.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are powerful, proud, long-lived reptilian beasts only found in a few preserves: most live in Wyrmroost alongside other beings too intractable to fit in regular, ordered havens. Besides the basics their physical forms are extremely varied: some have hair, some have horns, some breathe lightning or poison instead of fire, some have metallic scales and one resembles nothing so much as a gigantic ten-legged salamander.
    • They can take human form — except for Raxtus, an unusually small dragon who can only turn into something resembling a male fairy — and the series' wizards are in fact dragons who chose to permanently become human in exchange for greater magical power.
    • Notably, dragons are also some of the few creatures not to be inherently bound to light or darkness — while most magical beings are instinctively compelled to act in accordance to one force or the other, which side a dragon favors depends largely on the individual in question.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Small, Always Female humanoids with insect wings — usually, as some have bat or hummingbird wings instead — and who come in a great variety of subspecies, variants and races associated with different environments. Variants include the "regular" garden fairies with dragonfly and butterfly wings seen in Fablehaven's gardens, locust-, beetle- and bat-winged fairies who live in the desert around Lost Mesa, golden fairies called "jinn harps" with spellbindingly beautiful songs, and the powerful and mysterious Fairy Queen who is actually a unicorn in humanoid form. Fairies cannot be kept indoors overnight, or they will turn into malformed, hateful and flightless imps.
  • Our Hydras Are Different: A fifteen-headed hydra named Hespera is the first guardian of the Dragon Temple in Wyrmroost.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Dragons, vampires, goblins, trolls, fairies, centaurs, harpies, satyrs, dwarfs, giants, griffins, werebeasts, and demons all appear in the series. Ghosts are briefly mentioned too.
  • Our Perytons Are Different: Perytons with golden fur and poisonous antlers are among the creatures living in Wyrmroost, a reserve home to creatures too powerful, dangerous or unruly for other sanctuaries to house.
  • One-Word Title: The title of the series is Fablehaven, which, as a compound word, makes it a portmantitle and as it is also the name of the Supernature Preserve that the story starts at, the title a case of The Place, as well.
  • 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. Ignorance 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 defeated, a swarm of fairies alter his allegiance to make him loyal to Kendra. But it isn't really a Heel–Face Turn, since he has no mind of his own.
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Wizards are dragons that took permanent human form in order to greatly increase their magical powers. Comes at the cost of their ability to radiate fear, everything they could do physically in dragon form (like flying), and their immortality. They still age really slowly though.
  • The Place: The title of the series is Fablehaven, the name of the Supernature Preserve that the story starts at.
  • Portmantitle: The title of the series is Fablehaven, which, as a compound word, makes it this trope, and as it is the only word of the series title, it is also a One-Word Title. And being the name of the Supernature Preserve that the story starts at, makes it a case of The Place, as well.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: Ignorance is its own kind of protection, and caretakers are very careful about who they let in on the secret for this reason. In the first book, Kendra and Seth have to solve riddles and then seek out the truth about the preserve themselves.
  • Retired Badass: Dromadus, the only Dragon King to have ever stepped down. The rest of the dragons mock him from a distance and dismiss him as a coward, but none would dare challenge him or disturb his peace.
  • Riddling Sphinx: One appears in the fifth book and is miffed that so many people know the answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx nowadays.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Book 5 introduces a whole parcel of characters near the very beginning who get killed just as quickly.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The transdimensional backpack serves as this for Warren at the end of the fourth book and the beginning of the fifth book.
  • Sequel Escalation: Word of God states Mull wrote the series so the books would "build on each other in fun ways". Book 1 is pretty tame compared to the rest, with everything but the first few pages taking place at the titular preserve. By the fifth book, maybe 50% of the story happens at Fablehaven, and the characters see Obsidian Waste and Living Mirage, two more of the five secret preserves.Dragonwatch also manages to be this to Fablehaven as a whole, since it starts where the previous series left off and somehow manages to keep building on the potentially apocalyptic crisis of Book 5.
  • Shedu and Lammasu: Bull-bodied lammasus are among the creatures found in the Living Mirage, a hidden preserve holding creatures more powerful, mythical or independent than those found in typical sanctuaries. They are creatures of light, and among those that answer the Fairy Queen's summons to battle the demons at the end of the series finale.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Quite surprisingly averted by Newel and Doren in book five. They stick around for the final battle, 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 "Frito-Lay!" after all...
  • Shout-Out: A possible subtle reference to Dungeons & Dragons occurs in the third book, in which the heroes are attacked by a blue dragon that breathes lightning. In the second book a character is named Christopher Vogel, which is a very likely shout out to the author of the Writer's Journey.
  • 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. 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 immediately). 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 Society and send the plan spiraling out of control.
  • Species-Specific Afterlife: While the subject of the afterlife is not extensively explored in the novels, the demon Graulas mentions in one book that "certain circles" are appointed for receiving and punishing the souls of demons after death, implying that at least some magical creatures go to specific afterlives of their own after dying.
  • Stable Time Loop: The Chronometer from Book 3 temporarily brings 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.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: At one point, Kendra wonders why the wizards who built Zzyzx didn't just make it impossible to open. It's then explained that everything with a beginning must have an end, and that doing so would have resulted in the prison simply falling apart. Thus, Zzyzx's creators went for the next best thing and made opening it absurdly complicated, difficult, and dangerous to ensure it would stay sealed for as long as possible. And they took things a step further by preparing a backup plan for the day when it finally did open.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Many of the more powerful monsters had fear auras that paralyzed any mortal that came too close to them.
  • 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 they want while using it. Including other planes of existence. Not that they can use it for long periods of time.
  • 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.
  • Taught by Experience: 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.
  • The Unfavorite: Raxtus. His brothers rule over preserves, and he's been disowned for being "too fairylike". If it weren't for the fact that Celebrant is fully aware that it's his fault Raxtus is like this, he'd have let the other dragons kill him.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Downplayed in Book 4. The heroes need to steal a unicorn horn protected by centaur guards, a maze of invisible walls, a mountain troll, and magic that afflicts a would-be thief with crippling guilt. And then Graulas inducts Seth as a shadow charmer. Shadow charmers are virtually invisible in dim light, can see the invisible, can communicate with and easily befriend dark creatures, and are immune to magic that affects emotions. Granted, all of those are useful abilities that get used in many other contexts, but still...
  • 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
  • Unequal Rites: Wizards are dragons who take permanent human form to drastically increase their magical abilities. Witches are mortals who have (somehow) learned to use dark magic. Warlocks and magicians have been stated to exist and be distinct from both, but it is never mentioned exactly how they are distinct.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: The Fair Folk of Wyrmroost can make a magically produced foodstuff called "dragonmeal", which keeps the normally carnivorous dragons fed so they don't need to snack on other inhabitants of the preserves.
  • Villainous Virtues: For all of his faults, Nero is honest. He might charge you an immense fee to have him use his seeing stone, and that fee will increase exponentially with every use, but you get what you pay for and he won't try to trick you with Exact Words or any other nonsense. We later learn that it was Graulas who bestowed his stone to him, and Nero is happy to lend him assistance out of gratitude.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Dragons do this all the time, usually into human form. At one point, Kendra and Seth use potions to shrink down to miniature size. And the Eternal's guardians are immortal sentient talking animals can instantly turn into any other animal of approximately the same mass and can only die through powerful magical means or if their charge is killed through the same.
  • Was Once a Man: Happens occasionally. For example, Ephira and Muriel. And there's the exact opposite: the wizards weren't always human.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor:
    • Strongly downplayed with Vanessa after they are revealed as The Mole in book two. The next two books feature multiple instances of characters debating whether or not they can be trusted, whether information obtained from them is reliable, and whether they are truly remorseful or just preparing another betrayal. Even when she ultimately is given a second chance, desperation is the main reason. Vanessa's Heel–Face Turn turns out to be sincere, and she's finally welcomed back to the fold at the end.
    • Entirely averted with the Sphinx. Despite their Heel–Face Turn and crucual assistance at the end of the fifth book, nobody considers trusting them again for even a second.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Sphinx...sort of. Maybe. At the very least he started out as this; born a slave on the Living Mirage preserve, he led a revolution against his cruel masters and vowed to create a world without slavery or prisons. He also believes that the fall of Zzyzx is an inevitability, and claims that he wishes to open it in the right way in order to minimize the destruction. However, the Fairy Queen also mentioned that he has been corrupted by a desire for power, so it's hard to say how much of his self-proclaimed motives are true.
  • Wham Line: Book 2 is drawing to a close, the day has been saved, and Vanessa has been locked away in the Quiet Box...and then Kendra finds her hidden note, revealing the identity of the heroes' true enemy, the Sphinx.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Aaron Stone, the Knight's Pilot, was last seen dropping them off at the Obsidian Waste, when the trap was sprung, he was still waiting for the group at the airfield, and a bunch of Zombies were sent to kill him. Warren admits to calling him and warning him about the trap, and he isn't seen among the undead (unlike their other victim), so implicitly he survives, but never appears again.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Discussed in The Shadow Plague when Kendra finds out that zombies are kept at Lost Mesa. They're buried deep underground and are trained to ring a bell if they're hungry, so they're not dangerous if properly fed. Since these zombies have no humanity, Hal sees them as just another supernatural creature that deserves protection.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Some of the Eternals haven't dealt with immortality well at all.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Not much of a surprise, considering they used to be immortal dragons.
  • 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.It is worth mentioning he is a dragon the size of a minivan.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Taken Up to Eleven with things damaged by the Unforgiving Blade. Shortly after getting it, Seth cuts through an enemy sorceress's shield with the Blade, and as a result the sorceress will never be able to cast that spell again. Similarly, since Seth cut the strings of the Harp of Ages with the Blade, it can never be restrung.
  • Yandere: Ephira turns out to be this in the third book.


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