Review: The Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull
It’s the fifth and final “Fablehaven” adventure, and the world is coming to an end. More of the world’s magical game preserves are falling to the Society of the Evening Star, which is collecting the five hidden talismans needed to open the demon prison of Zzyzx. Young Kendra and Seth Sorenson, along with their family and friends, are charged with protecting these powerful objects, and the five “Eternals” who must die before the bad guys can turn the key in the lock. But after a death-defying visit to the Australian preserve where the last artifact is housed, Seth is taken prisoner by the so-called Sphinx—actually a centuries-old Ethiopian slave who rebelled against his masters and now holds most of the keys to Zzyzx. At that point, the score stands thus: The Knights of the Dawn (read: “good guys”) have two of the five artifacts—the ones that give people the power to time-travel and to teleport over vast distances—but the Sphinx has the ones that give the power of healing, long life, and seeing anything you want to look at, not to mention his hostages, such as Seth. Now the Knights plan a daring raid of the Sphinx’s lair, hoping to steal back those artifacts and rescue Seth. Guided by a traitor from within the Sphinx’s organization, relying on a spy embedded in ditto, and armed with a gizmo that can take three passengers around the world in the blink of an eye, there’s no way they can fail. Right?
Well, guess who ends up with all five keys to the Demon Prison. If you guessed “the Sphinx,” you’re wrong. The answer is even worse. Now, even with Seth on the loose again, the Sorensons and friends are faced with the imminent threat of Zzyzx being opened by demons, for demons. The human race may be an endangered species if they don’t stop it somehow. Seth, knowing that his own mistake may doom mankind, leads two satyrs and a vampire on a quest for a sword that may give him an eensy-weensy chance of saving the world. Kendra, meanwhile, joins a team of rescuers in a last-minute effort to save the surviving Eternals from a team of supernatural assassins. Both parties are armed with a variety of weapons and powers, but none are more essential than the two Sorenson children: the one a “shadow charmer” who can communicate with the undead, the other able to restore power that has drained from magical objects and creatures. For the fate of the world will depend on a few people arriving at an island that can only be reached via ghost ship, summoning an army of dragons, unicorns, and fairies, and wielding a magical sword that draws its power from the character of its wielder. And they will be all that stands between our world and the huge, hideous, powerful demons that will soon swarm out of Zzyzx.
The chances of Fablehaven’s friends could be better. But don’t count them out just yet. It’s amazing what can happen when a kid as daring and unpredictable as Seth is involved. His sister is no slouch, either. And their allies, both human and non-human, have some surprising and clever tricks in reserve. Junk-food-munching satyrs Newel and Doren lighten the tension with their humorous patter, including battle-cries of “Frito-Lay!” and “Hostess!” (Alas, Twinkie fans, they were not quite accurate in their prediction that Hostess would never die.) The Fairy Queen makes a sacrifice of cosmic proportions. The dream guy of every girl who loves unicorns smiles at Kendra. And one huge battle determines the future shape of the world. Some authors know just how to end a series! For another example of Brandon Mull’s strength in this area, see the third and last “Beyonders” book, Chasing the Prophecy, going on sale on March 12, 2013. His other books include The Candy Shop War and its sequel Arcade Catastrophe, which came out in October 2012.