Have you read the Fablehaven series? I have. I'd recommend them to anybody. That Brandon guy, he's a pretty creative fellow. They aren't just good books, they're great stories.
The writing itself sometimes threw me. On occasion I found myself saying "who talks that way? Who says that?" But the storytelling was grand.
Mull breathes life into his characters through their personalities, which in turn drives the story forward. ("Seth, don't do that.")
But the shining star of the series is not the characters it's the world which happens to be OUR world only made a million times more awesome all with the help of milk (It does the body and EYES good, apparently).
Step by step we enter a world that dwells under a blanket of reality in our own. I found the discoveries rich and entertaining. While the characters and conflict kept my attention, it was the discovery of this fantastical world that kept me turning pages and like in the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson series, we discover right along with the main character/s.
So what made this story great was the setting itself. By starting with a canvas of the familiar world and painting on the colors of imagination, Mull created a wonderful piece of art. It's not a new way of doing thing, no, mythologies have been doing it for millenia. But Mull does it very well.
My challenge is to bring that sense of discovery to my own story without the foundation of a familiar world. Wish me luck.