On March 10, 2019, one month after publication of Book One and Book Two, Milan Sergent's Candlewicke 13 series is listed at number four in the Children and Young Adult category!
Reviews for Book One: Candlewicke 13 Curse of the McRavens
5-Star Review by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
“Candlewicke 13: Curse of the McRavens is a work of quirky young adult fantasy penned by author Milan Sergent, and it forms the first book of the Candlewicke 13 series. Including original illustrations by the author, this novel follows the ill-fated Valor McRaven in his dreamy quest to study magic at Mystic Steeples, despite the oddments and peculiarities of his past and present which keep him separate from the ‘normal’ witches around him. Valor has a dark past, with allegations that his twin brother died because his own mother poisoned both boys, leading Valor to believe that his survival of the poison has given him unique abilities unlike anyone else. The Grim Warlock, if he’s real, has a lot to answer for, and Valor wants those answers.
"This is a superbly entertaining work of fantasy fiction which ticks all the boxes for the younger end of the young adult reading spectrum. I really enjoyed the level of irreverent humor that peppers the pages, interrupting what could be quite intensely horrible moments and lightening them appropriately. Doomsy Gloomsy was a particular favorite of mine, with her little quips and odd turns of phrase, and the storyline that builds around Valor and his family’s intriguing past makes for excellent reading. The formatting too, with its gorgeous illustrations and classic olde-worlde print style, enhances the already high quality of the reading experience to a whole new level of awesome. Overall, Milan Sergent has done a superb job with Candlewicke 13: Curse of the McRavens, and I can’t wait for more.”
5-Star Review by K.J. Simmill for Readers’ Favorite
“Valor McRaven had a destiny. He had heard whispers of great deeds, being the Knight of Night, during his latest poison recovery. But no one said anything to him, not that they were given the chance. His parents tried their best to keep him separate and distant from other children by hiding in the shadows. But this choice was taken from him when his family was found guilty and sent to the sanatorium. Things soon turned from bad to worse when the evidence against Valor himself was found at the scene of a crime, and whispers about him being the Grim Warlock began to spread.
"Will Valor be able to prove his innocence, find the truth behind the death of his twin, and uncover the truth behind the Great Deception. It is a lot of pressure for a young man to bear, but perhaps his unique abilities will allow him to rise to the challenge. One thing is for certain; if he doesn't discover the truth a fate worse than death awaits him.
"Curse of the McRavens is the first book in Milan Sergent's Candlewicke 13 fantasy series. This is a highly detailed book with attention paid to not only world and character building, but to providing a vast history, complete with myths, legends, fables, and bestiaries. There are different types and understandings of magic, and the views on them are varied. Vivid characters and a constant sense of foreboding drive the reader forward, searching the text for hints and clues as to who is behind the horrendous acts of which Valor is being accused. The insertion of images really enhanced the chapters, and I thought the addition of the maps at the end was a great touch. Humour, drama, questions, uncertainty, and tension erupt in a world of magic where anything seems possible. Follow the trail of clues and discover more hidden truths than you would dare imagine could be concealed."
5-Star Review by Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite
“Curse of the McRavens is an exciting first entry in the Candlewicke 13 Series by Milan Sergent, a gorgeous treat for fans of fantasy with unusual characters and intriguing plot lines. It explores the theme of magic and follows a quirky character called Valor McRaven, who tries to hide the eccentricities of his supernatural skills from those who consider themselves normal witches. He can move objects without requiring his wand and his shadow moves on its own, and these are just some of the odd things linked to his magical skills. His family has been looked down on in their world and the Ministry even locks them in the sanatorium. He has to undergo a dangerous test to get admission in the Mystic Steeples, and this involves becoming the hunted fox in a world filled with danger — ogres, boiling cauldrons, dangerous cats and many others. But an even greater fate awaits him. Can he prove himself to be the one to beat the dreaded Thirteenth Hour of the Grim Warlock?
"Milan Sergent creates a magical world and thrusts readers into it. It is interesting that some people, even in the world of magic, are the misfits, and discrimination becomes one of the elements that fuels the conflict deftly developed in this narrative. While Valor McRaven may have many gifts and while he is the envy of those who are from his world, he has few trusted friends. I loved the fact that he doesn’t experience the full sense of belonging and this is a feeling that most gifted people have, one that adds to the realism of the narrative and makes it related to mere humans. The connection between the protagonist and his adopted sister Doomsy Gloomsy is well explored. This is a novel that showcases the author’s imagination, and there is a sense of magic in the names of the characters and locales that form part of the setting. The protagonist’s quest and his desire to fit in are amongst the strong plot points that make the story compelling. Curse of the McRavens promises much for a series that will take readers to unexpected places.”
5-Star Review by Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite
“In a country of normal witches, or 'the Elite', sorcerers are frowned upon, and a boy named Valor McRaven is accused of being one; the crescent moon in his eyes, his wandering shadow, and his ability to make objects move with just his mind. The Mystic Ministry locks him and his family in a sanatorium and schedules him to be hunted in a rigged Spurgmulin tournament. Despite the ghastly situation, Valor is determined to survive, become an apprentice of normal magic at Mystic Steeples, unravel the death of his twin, and stop the attempts to kill him. Candlewicke 13: Curse of the McRavens by Milan Sergent is the first installment in a coming-of-age magical tale series where a boy is prophesied to be the Knight of Night who will “take down the Grim Warlock and expose the Great Deception.” Readers will definitely find all the visual elements enhance the reading experience wonderfully. The gothic designs and graphics add a lot to the story, no doubt accentuating the settings, characters, and scenes, making the story esthetically attractive. The world-building is fascinatingly intricate and perturbingly eccentric, filled with fantastical creatures, a trait that one can expect from a hidden magical land called Hoopenfangia. With the premise of a boy, magic, and a challenging fate, fantasy fans will definitely be entertained by Milan Sergent’s Candlewicke 13: Curse of the McRavens. It’s a whimsical tale with a dark tone. I gravitated more towards the sharp-minded Doomsy, who’s witty in her own mordant way. Memorable characters with interesting names, high stakes, and quick-paced actions, this first book of the series will surely keep readers enthralled from start to finish."
Review by BlueInk Review
(Reviewed: April, 2019)
“This first installment in Milan Sergent’s Candlewicke 13 series—a presumably all-ages fantasy saga featuring illustrations by the author—is a dark blend of elements reminiscent of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter saga and the Charles Addams’ Addams Family cartoons.
"Set on Hoopenfangia—a vast island located inside the Bermuda Triangle, inhabited by magical and mythic beings (as well as non-magical humans dubbed Nizzertits)—the story revolves around members of the McRaven family, specifically Valor, the 12-year-old son of Houmas and Lithium. Valor is prophesized to be the Knight of Night: “the Hierophant who must save everyone from the Great Deception.” Created by Boogeyman (aka the Grim Warlock), the Great Deception is a mysterious mass delusion that, some speculate, is designed to methodically drive people mad.
"When Valor and his family, including his adopted sister Doomsy, are sentenced to the infamous Grossatete Sanitarium on trumped up charges, Valor must find a way out to clear his family’s name—and to fulfill his destiny to save the populace from the Grim Warlock. The only path to freedom is to participate in The Spurgie Tournament, a dangerous, annual sporting event where his life could be in peril.
"The quirky tone, dark atmospherics, and vivid descriptions are the story’s strengths, as are the lavishly detailed illustrations.”
BookLife Prize Entry Critic's Report for Candlewicke 13 Curse of the McRavens.
"Sergent's novel bursts with vigorous invention in its particulars. When natural-born sorcerer Valor volunteers to compete in a weird and wild supernatural sporting event ("Spurgmulin") in the doomed role of "schlemeasel" to win a shot at studying magic at the Mystic Steeples school, Sergent spins out a parade's worth of fresh, playful ideas. Highlights include magical items like the "Tongues of Fun Tonic," the coursework in Grossatete Sanatorium, a bevy of oddball creatures, parodies of academic bureaucracy, and that climactic tournament, a lulu involving cats, monkeys, ogres and more.
“… The cast around him is vibrant and funny, especially his precocious sister Doomsy Gloomsy, his classmate Rose Decay, and the villainous Crumpecker, a Dickensian grotesque. Sergent excels at the comic patter between his cast.
"Sergent exhibits significant wit and brio in his coinages, dialogue, and descriptions."
Reviews for Book Two: Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest
5-Star Review by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite
"It was an absolute delight to return to the bizarre, macabre and utterly entertaining world of the McRavens in this latest edition of Candlewicke 13. Valor and Doomsy developed a lot during book one, so it’s wonderful to see their new skills at work as they struggle through the mess their wayward parents have gotten them into now. The mystery of the McRavens continues with fluid prose, immense wit and highly engaging dialogue as author Milan Sergent weaves an intelligent tapestry of ideas. It is masterfully simple for younger readers but has plenty of depth left to explore. In this novel, I particularly enjoyed the role reversal of precocious kids with insane parents, and the amusement park was a truly wild ride. Overall, Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest is another superb YA fantasy novel, not to be missed."
5-Star Review by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers’ Favorite
"Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest: Book Two of the Candlewick 13 Series by Milan Sergent was an excellent read. I did read the first one and I recommend anyone do the same – trust me, this book will make more sense if you do! This was an extremely well-written book, with shades of Harry Potter mixed with the Addams family in a story that starts high and stays there all the way. Illustrations and maps help the story along and there are plenty of little clues hidden along the way – if you can spot them. This is an adventurous action-filled tale, a story that never lets up from start to finish. I hope there is a third story because this is proving to be an excellent series. The characters are wonderful and the writing is such that they are brought alive in your mind, allowing you to get to know them (and maybe wish you had friends like them!). Great story and I'm looking forward to more from Milan Sergent."
5-Star Review by Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite
"I loved this fantasy and the characters and can’t help smiling at names like Doomsy Gloomsy. Valor is an unusual hero in a wonderful narrative and it is interesting to notice the clumsiness that characterizes his family. This family has a much deeper secret and a strength that isn’t quite evident in the magical world that surrounds them. Readers who have read Septimus Heap or fans of Harry Potter will find much to enjoy in this series. The prose is awesome and the world building impeccable, featuring settings that reflect the sentiments of the characters or the sense of magic that inhabits the world. Author Milan Sergent keeps it fast and maintains the attention of readers from one gripping page to the next. The action is intense and the excitement builds up to an explosive climax."
5-Star Review by Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite
"What I always look for in magical tales are the surprises, clues, and ironies and they abound in this narrative. It is curious that someone puts so much effort into escaping danger just to find it staring him in the face. Valor McRaven is from humble origins, belonging to the neglected and often despised class of witches and wizards, but he has a strong destiny to fulfill. What makes him even more interesting is that he hasn’t even completed any apprenticeship in magic. The narrative features creatures of magic and myth, characters that are well developed with enough backstory, powerful plot points, and a conflict that grows in magnitude through each page. Milan Sergent’s writing is filled with imagination and a setting that is transporting as it reflects the excitement of the magical adventure."
5-Star Review by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
"This story was very entertaining from the start until the very end. The mystery had me hooked while the suspense had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I wanted to know more about Valor and Doomsy and I enjoyed the interaction between these two. They seemed a lot more intelligent than their parents, which was a great turn of events and made the story a lot funnier. I loved the flow, I enjoyed the fast-paced plot and I enjoyed these characters."
BookLife Prize Entry Critic's Report for Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest.
“As in the series' first book, "Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest" fairly bursts with odd, witty, playful incidents and characters. The narrative continually surprises in its particulars, many of which prove charming or even laugh-out-loud funny. The overarching plot of the series feels familiar, but Sergent continually offers enticing diversions, like the probable archvillain who speaks in garbled rhyme and has marked a trail in his guarded ‘Psycho Path.’”
RIDGELAND — While some kids are voted Most Popular and Best Dressed in school, Milan Sergent was named Most Mysterious.
Sergent said he never felt like one of the crowd, and being an outsider is the central theme of his work.
"I took some paintings to a gallery in Mississippi, and they wouldn't talk to me," said Sergent, owner of the Ridgeland gallery Ovations. "I realized that my art wasn't typical Mississippi subject matter."
Made to feel like an artistic outsider in his home state, Sergent said, he looked for a better fit and found acceptance in New York City.
His solo art show "Outsiders and Apparitions" will be Sept. 1-29 at Jadite Galleries on West 50th Street near Rockefeller Center in New York City. The opening reception for the show will be 6-8 p.m. Sept. 5.
"I thought they would just take a piece or two, but they wanted to do a whole show," said Sergent, who plans to show 15 paintings at the New York gallery. Sergent has been painting for two years and said he recently discovered a central theme in his art. "I'm trying to show the disdain people have for outsiders," he said. "I'm trying to paint those prejudices. "We are all considered inferior to someone, and if we could realize that, we would probably be less judgmental of others, because we are all the same."
Sergent uses gothic imagery to create unique paintings that some might consider eerie. He plays with contrasts - dark and light, good and evil - prompting his audience to question its ideas of reality and normalcy. Some paintings he plans to show include "Lord Lunacy and Madame Dementia," two colorful gothic figures that refuse to blend in with the gray memorial stone to which they are affixed; "Miss Anthropy," a black-and-white painting of a gothic madam holding the head of a clown and fanning herself with hatchets; and "Mendacity," a Medusa-like figure wearing a gothic mask. Sergent's paintings - some of which feature commonly dressed "normals" that critically eye gothic sophisticates and outsiders - judge the judgmental. He also works to make the disturbing less aberrant, forcing his audience to face its fears about life and death. "I love to paint the darker, seedier things in life and give it a candy coating to make it not so shocking to people," said Sergent, who attended Hinds Community College in 1985, majoring in commercial design and creative writing.
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