When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.
August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.
The Bookish Bro Says
I’m going to be honest and say that it was this book’s cover and title that caught my attention. So, before I dive into the inky depths of my The Wicker King review, I want to talk about the physical aspects of the book.
The first thing you’ll notice once you have the book is the amazing cover. It’s mostly black, with gold accents and white text. Colour aesthetics are on point! The gold also catches the light on some angles so the numerous symbols and doodles shine around the title, which is coloured white. The two boys on the cover are the two main characters of the book. I usually don’t like books with people on their covers because it takes away my chance to imagine how the character looks like, but with this book I didn’t mind. It’s not a fantasy novel so there aren’t any radical or extreme physical traits on the characters.
Next thing you’ll notice are the page edges. They slowly get darker and darker towards the end of the book. When you start reading, you’ll notice this happens to the pages, too. They go from white to black, and the text turns white from black near the end of the book. It was a beautiful touch, how the pages accompanied the story and the characters’ internal conflicts and downward spiral.
There are also images inserted here and there, such as various characters’ playlists, photos, notes, etc, which adds another level of interaction.
With all that said, let’s move on to my review! I’d like to begin by quoting a line from the book:
“The Wicker King was beautiful – brilliant, mad, sick, free.” – August
This is how August saw The Wicker King at one part of the book, and this is EXACTLY how I felt after I finished the book.
When I dived into K. Ancrum‘s The Wicker King, I seriously thought it was a fantasy book. It’s not. Or, rather, it’s a mix. I categorize it as contemporary that lets in just a bit of fantasy into its world. It was a delight seeing the book unfold as I read chapter after short chapter of this raw and emotional work of art. Each chapter is 1, 2, or 3 pages long which made this book feel like such a quick read!
The slow-burn type of development and pacing left a very unique kind of pain that settles just under the skin. It’s indescribable, what this book made me feel. It’s a kind of ache in my chest, a stirring in my mind. That is this book’s power. It’ll press buttons you never knew existed within you.
This book is about Jack and August, two very different high schoolers who are best friends. Jack is a varsity rugby player and August is a drug runner, but both of them are children of neglect. I think that’s what drew them to each other. They found a home in each other because they couldn’t anywhere else. Their relationship is both brilliant and sick. It’s sweet, with a hint of poison. It’s fire; it warms and it burns. And I have to say, the ending was unexpected but deeply appreciated and beautiful.
I can’t delve into the story too much without spoiling the experience, but I do want to mention that this book talks about mental health issues. But the author knows her craft and has written a beautiful book that touches on mental health, friendship, adventure, and finding ones truth. It’s definitely a ride you won’t want to miss!
K. Ancrum grew up in Chicago Illinois. She attended Dominican University to study Fashion Merchandizing, but was lured into getting an English degree after spending too many nights experimenting with hard literary criticism and hanging out with unsavory types, like poetry students. Currently, she lives in Andersonville and writes books at work when no one is looking.
If you want to know more about the book and the author, head on over to my friend Raf’s blog post where he interviews K. Ancrum herself about The Wicker King!
BE WARNED, THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!