**This review is full of spoilers because I find it impossible to review a book that feels like a small part of a larger story without giving away some of the details. If you haven’t read books 1 & 2 in the Dragonwatch series (or the Fablehaven series), stop right here and go read those books first. Trust me, they are worth experiencing without spoilers.**
So first, please read my note above. So many spoilers in this review!! You’ve been warned 🙂 I am really excited to share my review of Dragonwatch: Master of the Phantom Isle by Brandon Mull. I received an eARC several months ago but had a hard time reading the pdf on my computer. So I also got a hard copy at my local library and sped through this book in 24 hours.
First, I LOVE EVERYTHING IN THE FABLEHAVEN UNIVERSE! Seriously, this is a favorite fantasy world of mine and the fact that Brandon Mull is even writing a sequel series makes me so happy. I was destined to love this series and this book was no exception. It’s a fantastic addition to Mull’s already fast paced, plot driven series and left me hungry for more as soon as I finished.
- Apparently, I have a hard time getting into ebooks or perhaps it’s just pdf ebooks. I just couldn’t get excited about this book in a digital format. Then I got the hard copy and flew through it. So I suppose the moral of that experience is that print books are not dead. Haha!
- This book very much reads like only a small part of a larger story. And like all of Mull’s series that I’ve read, I would recommend starting at the beginning and reading the books in order. It’s just more fun and will make more sense that way.
- I’m still waiting for a Fablehaven movie series…
According to Goodreads, “Cursed by the Key of Forgetting, Seth has lost all memory of his past—his relationships, his experiences, and who he really is. For now he will align with his new mentor, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, who takes him to the Phantom Isle, the secret gateway to the Under Realm. Though Seth is not formally a prisoner, Ronodin wants to use him and his shadow charmer powers for his own dark ends.
Kendra is frantic to find her missing brother, but the quest will take her and her companions, including Warren, Tanu, and Vanessa, far from Wyrmroost to Crescent Lagoon—a recently fallen dragon sanctuary made up of many islands and underwater domains. Its caretaker has regained a foothold on one of the islands. If Kendra and her friends can save that sanctuary, they might uncover the answers they need to rescue Seth.
With each sanctuary the dragons overthrow, Celebrant, the Dragon King, comes closer to the dawn of a new Age of Dragons. With the forces of darkness on the march, can Kendra and her allies gather enough power to win the epic dragon war?”
AGAIN, LOTS OF SPOILERS COMING NOW!!
First thought: I need book 4 yesterday. Everything about this book read as a small part of a larger story. We get some closure on a few things that happened in book 2. But mostly we are still in the middle of the fight. I love these books because they are exciting and action packed. From the first page we are in the middle of a an epic adventure with many moving parts. That makes it a lot of fun and agonizing to wait for each additional book in the series!
A lot of the action in this book reads so much like the plots in the original Fablehaven and I loved that! One thing I love about those original Fablehaven novels is how clever the plots are. There is always a quest of some kind and an enemy to overcome, but Kendra and Seth always find a way to help light defeat darkness. And in clever, exciting ways too. This book continues that fun tradition. The quest to find a way to the phantom isle is a classic Fablehaven adventure. I loved the search for the map, the journey to visit the merpeople (with that amazing potion!) and their adventures with a demon. It felt like the original Fablehaven stories in that quest.
The most interesting character in this novel is Seth especially because of the evolution of his character despite his lack of memories. Seth begins the story almost blinding listening to Ronodin and his questionable reasons for doing bad or spreading darkness. A low point is the release of the creatures in the Black Well at Wyrmroost. But slowly he begins to see that he wants to do good with his dark powers. And that he wants to understand his past regardless of the difficulties in that quest. I respect Seth at the end of the day; although in the middle, I was not sure about him. Also I love Calvin’s loyalty to Seth. The loose ends surrounding Seth’s quest to recover his memories were the hardest to accept when I finished this novel.
I enjoyed the other characters in this book especially because they couldn’t solve every problem alone. A highlight was definitely spending time with Warren and Vanessa in this book! It felt so nostalgic to have their characters back on a new adventure and made me want to reread Fablehaven. I was also intrigued to see The Sphinx back in the story with his own agenda as usual. I can’t wait to be surprised and maybe even shocked by what he does in future books. I appreciate that there are casualties in this book. Of course, they are sad. But somehow they make the story more realistic (yes, even with the magic) because both good and evil loss people on their sides of things in such a war. And finally, I appreciated that Kendra couldn’t quite do everything she sets her mind to. Yes, I loved the symbolism in Kendra and the Fairy Queen combining their light to shine light in impenetrable darkness. And I loved that she and Bracken are reunited. But I also appreciated that Kendra couldn’t save Seth and couldn’t also capture the Sphinx and Ronodin. There have to be limits to even her powers.
Overall, what a wild ride of a novel! The fast paced plot will keep you on the edge of your seat and you will be cheering for Kendra and Seth as strongly as you ever have. Now what is going to happen in book 4? Where is Andromulus? Will Seth find that demon elf guy and get his memories back? What is Ronodin and the Sphinx next move? How will Kendra and Bracken help Seth?
I’m officially hoping for book 4 and 5 to be released in a set. Because wow, the action is crazy and I want to know how it ends!!
Have you read Fablehaven or Dragonwatch yet? Which is your favorite?
What are your favorite fantasy novels?