Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest

Book Two of the Candlewicke 13 series

Young Adult - Fantasy - General
352 Pages
Reviewed on 04/26/2019
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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.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest is a work of fantasy fiction written for young adults by Milan Sergent and forms the second book in the Candlewicke 13 Series. After the events of Curse of the McRavens, our hero Valor is mere minutes from achieving his dream of attending the prestigious school of magic, Mystic Steeples. But just as he and his delightfully morose sister, Doomsy Gloomsy, are about to enroll, they are kidnapped by none other than their own parents. Valor's father, the totally insane Houmas McRaven, is insistent that his family must escape the Grim Warlock's Thirteenth Hour, but his methods set the family on a disastrous adventure into a world of tombstones and monsters.

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.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest by Milan Sergent is Book Two of the Candlewicke 13 series. Valor McRaven is about to become an apprentice of magic, along with Doomsy Gloomsy, his sister, at Mystic Steeples. At the last minute, their parents swoop in with two Nizzertits and take them away from the sanatorium. Leaving Hoopenfangia behind, they arrive in the Bumbling Boonies. In a bid to get away from the Grim Warlock’s Thirteenth Hour, Valor’s father wants to live underground in a hole but first, he has to get through an enchanted door at Ambergis Divide. Has the family walked straight into a trap? Have they headed for the very thing that they were running from? War is inevitable and Valor can only hope that his friends show up to help.

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.

Divine Zape

In this second book in the series, Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest, Valor McRaven and his sister, Doomsy Gloomsy, who have stuck together through very trying, albeit terrifying times, are taken away by their parents and their new-found friends, the Nizzertits. It is an attempt to escape the sanatorium and this happens as the two siblings prepare to become apprentices of magic at Mystic Steeples, a dream held for a very long time. Valor wants them to get through the enchanted door of the Ambergris Divide and live in a hole in order to escape the dreaded Grim Warlock’s Thirteenth Hour. Ironically, Mr. McRaven is leading his family right into the jaws of the lion, at the epicenter of magic. Can they find the help and resources they need to survive magical creatures, evil sorcerers, and an enemy as powerful as any can be?

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.

Romuald Dzemo

Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest is the second book in the Candlewicke 13 series and an interesting read for fantasy fans. Valor McRaven is considered by his friends to be the leader of the misfit coven. He has suffered in the previous book and now is just a few hours away from becoming an apprentice of magic at Mystic Steeples —a dream held for a long time. Valor McRaven and his sister, Doomsy Gloomsy, are taken away by their parents, escaping from the sanatorium. They flee Hoopenfangia to the Bumbling Boonies. Houmas McRaven plans to live in a hole with his family and be safe from the Grim Warlock’s Thirteenth Hour. What Houmas doesn’t know is that he is leading his family to the very place he is supposed to be running from.

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.

Rabia Tanveer

Candlewicke 13 and the Tombstone Forest by Milan Sergent is the second novel in the Candlewicke 13 series. While I did not read the first novel in the series, I had no trouble catching up with the characters and getting invested in the story. I liked Valor and Doomsy and I loved their chemistry. They made a funny yet endearing team that was surprisingly intelligent. I am enamored with Doomsy; she is such a funky yet surprisingly intelligent character that I cannot help but adore. This brother-sister duo had me hooked from the very beginning!

This is the story of Valor and Doomsy, siblings who are just about to achieve their dream of joining Mystic Steeples when they are taken away by their parents who believe that all of their lives are in danger. So they all run away, hoping to find protection in a hole in the earth, literally. However, unbeknownst to them, they might be running right into danger. Can they safely make it to the place they want? Can they unravel the mystery that is behind the McRavens? What will happen to this brother-sister duo? Can they keep their parents safe?

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.