Author: Brandon Mull
Grade Level: 4-7 grade
Genre: Fantasy/Juvenile Literature
Jason is intelligent, tall, loves baseball and animals, and is 13. Rachel is smart, homeschooled, 13, and an only child. Both magically find themselves in Lyrian, a world controlled by an evil magician Maldor. All they really want is to get home, but fate is funny that way, and instead they find themselves united in a quest to find a magical word that will unmake the evil magician.
I really love Fablehaven and thoroughly enjoyed The Candy Shop War, two of Mull's other books/series. However, I had a really difficult time getting into this book. At about the 2/3rds mark, it finally pulled me in and I admit I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. However, I will say that the "heroes" in the book--Jason and Rachel--just are not believable as 13 year old kids. I think that was one of the most difficult things for me with this book. I may have been convinced that this was appropriate for their age, if they're background was expounded upon more. But Jason is the youngest child in his family, and while he is an independent person, I just don't see a 13 year old doing some of the things he does. Rachel is a little more believable in her more grown-up reactions simply because not only is she an independent child, she is an only child. Family dynamics speak volumes. Rachel is not a very compelling character anyway, but that may be a personal bias towards "home-schooled know-it-alls". The story went very quickly, and felt more like a movie that should have been three times as long but the director just didn't feel like taking the time. This was very disappointing since normally I think Brandon Mull is a great author. The story is compelling, the characters just were not up to par with his other books. So as far as story goes, pretty good and compelling. Characters, need some serious work and if these two are 13, they need to act like 13 year olds not 16/17.