Fablehaven: The Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull (2010)

“I haven’t been drawn to a girl in a long time,” Bracken said. “Against all odds, this time, my mother actually approves!”
He turned Kendra toward him, hands on her shoulders. “I mean, you know,” he added softly, smiling, “what kind of unicorn wouldn’t be drawn to a virtuous maiden?”
“What kind of a girl doesn’t like unicorns?” Kendra teased, looking up at him (p 587).

Fablehaven #5Toted as a faster paced adventure than the previous four books in the series, The Keys to the Demon Kingdom starts off at break-neck speed and rarely relents. I couldn’t put it down.

As the Sphinx and his Society of the Evening Star get closer to acquiring the magical artifacts needed to open the demon prison, Kendra, Seth and the Knights of the Dawn hurry to intercede. These leads to many adventures, culminating in a final showdown involving demon hordes, the Demon King, a unicorn, a mythical sword, and the Fairy Queen herself.

Plot twists and turns abound. I was twittering and squealing, laughing and shouting as I read. All it lacked was a big tear-jerker moment (which Harry Potter delivered brilliantly).

As in The Shadow Plague, Kendra and Seth are separated early on. The story flips between their two destinies but it merges toward the end. While things got complicated (I’m still not sure how they opened Zxyxx), I enjoyed the ride. I especially enjoyed some of the character developments toward the end (Vanessa has a crush on WHO?!). Kendra also, finally, gets to meet a unicorn and it exceeds expectations without getting carried away.

At some points, it paralleled mythological tales. Like Perseus, Seth must travel to distant and dangerous places: they both visit three wise women whom they must outsmart to learn how to overcome their present challenge. They must both enter a dangerous place to retrieve the magical item (for Perseus, the head of Medusa – for Seth, a sword). But twists come at the end. Nothing unbelievable but awesome.

I believe this is a perfect series for those Percy Jackson fans looking for more great fantasy fiction.

I was very glad I reread this series before I picked up the final installment. I’m also glad I purchased the series. I know I will reread many times.


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