I have to say that I found “Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star” far more entertaining than the first book. Mr. Mull remedied many of what I thought were the weaker points of book 1 in book 2. The characters were less one dimensional having “learned their lessons” from the adventures in book 1, and the plot is much more, well, adventurous.
In “Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star” you get what the title promises. The Society of the Evening Star, a somewhat amorphous behind the scenes group in book 1, takes an increasingly active role in book 2, although still in deviously mysterious ways.
Mr. Mull also introduces a slew of new characters that make the landscape of Fablehaven richer and more entertaining. You get to meet Vanessa, the mystical creature trapper, Tanu, the poison master, and Coulter, the magic relics collector – all characters that are featured prominently in book 2, and continue to have a presence in book 3 (at least as far as I’ve read – which isn’t very). These characters start off with more depth and intrigue than Kendra and Seth did, possibly because of their exotic professions but also because of their distinct knowledge and personalities.
What I find interesting in this book, as well as the Harry Potter series for that matter, is that in both cases the main characters are, well, not that interesting. Take Harry Potter for example. Sure he always defeats Voldemort (I know, spoiler, but seriously, if you didn’t know he defeats Voldemort over and over, have you been living under a rock?!) but his character is just not interesting. It’s not because he’s a particularly great (or even average) magician, or because he’s wily and cunning with loads of street smarts – it’s because he’s protected by his mother’s love and he has a combination of luck and bravery. Now don’t get me wrong, luck and bravery are very important in most adventure stories. But the most interesting characters are so much more than that.
And I feel about Kendra and Seth the same way that I feel about Harry Potter. They’re just not that interesting. Luckily though, like for Harry Potter, the plot and the surrounding characters are more than enough to keep the story fun, interesting, and adventurous.