Candlewicke 13: Curse of the McRavens

Book One of the Candlewicke 13 series

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
345 Pages
Reviewed on 04/20/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Milan Sergent studied creative writing in college and began writing the novel series, Candlewicke 13, in 2007, a year after featuring some of the series' characters in his solo art exhibition, titled Outsiders and Apparitions, near Rockefeller Center in New York City.

An artist and poet since adolescence, a few of Sergent's works were published in Scarlet Literary Magazine. He lives with his wife, Multi-Award-Winning Author and Poet Beatrice H. Crew.

    Book Review

Reviewed 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.

K.J. Simmill

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 Victor 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.

Ruffina Oserio

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 fuel 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.

Lit Amri

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.