Read Fablehaven I Online

Authors: Brandon Mull,Brandon Dorman

Tags: #Science Fiction, #Fiction, #Juvenile Fiction, #General, #American, #Magic, #Fantasy, #Fantasy fiction, #Children: Young Adult (Gr. 7-9), #Action & Adventure, #Fantasy & Magic, #& Magic, #Ages 9-12 Fiction, #Children's Books, #Fairies, #Brothers and sisters, #Family, #Siblings, #Good and evil, #Family - Siblings, #Multigenerational, #Grandparents, #Family - Multigenerational, #Connecticut, #Authors, #Grandparent and child

Fablehaven I

BOOK: Fablehaven I
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Fablehaven

(Fablehaven Series, Book 1)

Brandon Mull

A Mandatory Vacation

Kendra stared out the side window of the SUV, watching

foliage blur past. When the flurry of motion

became too much, she looked up ahead and fixed her gaze

on a particular tree, following it as it slowly approached,

streaked past, and then gradually receded behind her.

Was life like that? You could look ahead to the future

or back at the past, but the present moved too quickly to

absorb. Maybe sometimes. Not today. Today they were

driving along an endless two-lane highway through the

forested hills of Connecticut.

Why didn’t you tell us Grandpa Sorenson lived in

India? Seth complained.

Her brother was eleven and heading into sixth grade.

He had grown weary of his handheld video game —- evidence

that they were on a truly epic drive.

Mom twisted to face the backseat. It won’t be much

longer. Enjoy the scenery.

I’m hungry, Seth said.

Mom started rummaging through a grocery bag full of

snack food. Peanut butter and crackers?

Seth reached forward for the crackers. Dad, driving,

asked for some Almond Roca. Last Christmas he had

decided that Almond Roca was his favorite candy and that

he should have some on hand all year long. Nearly six

months later he was still honoring his resolution.

Do you want anything, Kendra?

I’m fine.

Kendra returned her attention to the frantic parade of

trees. Her parents were leaving on a seventeen-day

Scandinavian cruise with all the aunts and uncles on her

mother’s side. They were all going for free. Not because

they’d won a contest. They were going on a cruise because

Kendra’s grandparents had asphyxiated.

Grandma and Grandpa Larsen had been visiting relatives

in South Carolina. The relatives lived in a trailer. The

trailer had some sort of malfunction involving a gas leak,

and they all died in their sleep. Long ago, Grandma and

Grandpa Larsen had specified that when they died, all their

children and their spouses were to use an allocated sum of

money to go on a Scandinavian cruise.

The grandchildren were not invited.

Won’t you get bored stuck on a boat for seventeen

days? Kendra asked.

Dad glanced at her in the rearview mirror. The food is

supposed to be incredible. Snails, fish eggs, the works.

We’re not all that thrilled about the trip, Mom said

sadly. I don’t think your grandparents envisioned an accidental

death when they made this request. But we’ll make

the best of it.

The ship stops in ports as you go, Dad said, deliberately

redirecting the conversation. You get to disembark

for part of the time.

Is this car ride going to last seventeen days? Seth

asked.

We’re nearly there, Dad said.

Do we have to stay with Grandma and Grandpa

Sorenson? asked Kendra.

It’ll be fun, Dad said. You should feel honored. They

almost never invite anyone to stay with them.

Exactly. We barely know them. They’re hermits.

Well, they were my parents, Dad said. Somehow I

survived.

The road stopped winding through forested hills as it

passed through a town. They idled at a stoplight, and

Kendra stared at an overweight woman gassing up her

minivan. The front windshield of the minivan was dirty,

but the woman seemed to have no intention of washing it.

Kendra glanced up front. The windshield of the SUV

was filthy, smeared with dead bugs, even though Dad had

squeegeed it when they last stopped to refuel. They had

driven all the way from Rochester today.

Kendra knew that Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson

had not invited them to stay. She had overheard when

Mom had approached Grandpa Sorenson about letting the

kids stay with him. It was at the funeral.

The memory of the funeral made Kendra shiver. There

was a wake beforehand, where Grandma and Grandpa

Larsen were showcased in matching caskets. Kendra did

not like seeing Grandpa Larsen wearing makeup. What

lunatic had decided that when people died you should hire

a taxidermist to fix them up for one final look? She would

much rather remember them alive than on grotesque display

in their Sunday best. The Larsens were the grandparents

who had been part of her life. They had shared

many holidays and long visits.

Kendra could hardly remember spending time with

Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson. They had inherited

some estate in Connecticut around the time her parents

were married. The Sorensons had never invited them to

visit, and rarely made the trek out to Rochester. When

they came, it was generally one or the other. They had only

come together twice. The Sorensons were nice, but their

visits had been too infrequent and brief for real bonding to

occur. Kendra knew that Grandma had taught history at

some college, and that Grandpa had traveled a lot, running

a small importing business. That was about it.

Everyone was surprised when Grandpa Sorenson

showed up at the funeral. It had been more than eighteen

months since either of the Sorensons had visited. He had

apologized that his wife could not attend because she was

feeling ill. There always seemed to be an excuse.

Sometimes Kendra wondered if they were secretly

divorced.

Toward the end of the wake, Kendra overheard Mom

cajoling Grandpa Sorenson to watch the kids. They were

in a hallway around a corner from the viewing area. Kendra

heard them talking before she reached the corner, and

paused to eavesdrop.

Why can’t they stay with Marci?

Normally they would, but Marci is coming on the

cruise.

Kendra peeked around the corner. Grandpa Sorenson

was wearing a brown jacket with patches on the elbows and

a bow tie.

Where are Marci’s kids going?

To her in-laws.

What about a baby-sitter?

Two and a half weeks is a long time for a sitter. I

remembered you had mentioned having them over sometime.

Yes, I recall. Does it have to be late June? Why not

July?

The cruise is on a time frame. What’s the difference?

Things get extra busy around then. I don’t know, Kate.

I’m out of practice with children.

Stan, I don’t want to go on this cruise. It was important

to my parents, so we’re going. I don’t mean to twist

your arm. Mom sounded on the verge of tears.

Grandpa Sorenson sighed. I suppose we could find a

place to lock them up.

Kendra moved away from the hall at that point. She

had quietly worried about staying with Grandpa Sorenson

ever since.

Having left the town behind, the SUV climbed a steep

grade. Then the road curved around a lake and got lost

among low, forested hills. Every so often they passed a mailbox.

Sometimes a house was visible through the trees;

sometimes there was only a long driveway.

They turned onto a narrower road and kept driving.

Kendra leaned forward and checked the gas gauge. Dad,

you’re under a quarter of a tank, she said.

We’re almost there. We’ll fill up after we drop you kids

off.

Can’t we come on the cruise? Seth asked. We could

hide in the lifeboats. You could sneak us food.

You kids will have much more fun with Grandma and

Grandpa Sorenson, Mom said. Just you wait. Give it a

chance.

Here we are, Dad said.

They pulled off the road onto a gravel driveway.

Kendra could see no sign of a house, only the driveway

angling out of sight into the trees.

Tires crunching over the gravel, they passed several

signs advertising that they were on private property. Other

signs warded off trespassers. They came to a low metal gate

that hung open but could be shut to prevent access.

This is the longest driveway in the world! Seth

complained.

The farther they advanced, the less conventional the

signs became.
Private Property
and
No Trespassing
gave way

to
Beware of .12 Gauge
and
Trespassers Will Be Persecuted.

These signs are funny, Seth said.

More like creepy, Kendra muttered.

Rounding another bend, the driveway reached a tall,

wrought-iron fence topped with fleurs-de-lis. The double

gate stood open. The fence extended off into the trees as

far as Kendra could see in either direction. Near the fence

stood a final sign:

Certain Death Awaits.

Is Grandpa Sorenson paranoid? Kendra asked.

The signs are a joke, Dad said. He inherited this

land. I’m sure the fence came with it.

After they passed through the gate, there was still no

house in sight. Just more trees and shrubs. They drove

across a small bridge spanning a creek and climbed a shallow

slope. There the trees ended abruptly, bringing the

house into view across a vast front lawn.

The house was big, but not enormous, with lots of

gables and even a turret. After the wrought-iron gate,

Kendra had expected a castle or a mansion. Constructed

out of dark wood and stone, the house looked old but in

good repair. The grounds were more impressive. A bright

flower garden bloomed in front of the house. Manicured

hedges and a fish pond added character to the yard. Behind

the house loomed an immense brown barn, at least five stories

tall, topped by a weather vane.

I love it, Mom said. I wish we were all staying.

You’ve never been here? Kendra asked.

No. Your father came here a couple of times before we

were married.

They go the extra mile to discourage visitors, Dad

said. Me, Uncle Carl, Aunt Sophie-none of us have

spent much time here. I don’t get it. You kids are lucky.

You’ll have a blast. If nothing else, you can spend your time

playing in the pool.

BOOK: Fablehaven I
4.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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