The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

The Wicker King

The Wicker King is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.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...

Title:The Wicker King
Author:
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Wicker King Reviews

  • Adri

    centers around August and his best friend, Jack. This book reeled me in quick; I couldn’t put it down and I blew through it in a few sittings. It’s written in such a poetic and unique way. Even the formatting is incredibly unique.

    . The two boys you see on the cover? Yeah, you’ll see more of them. I felt like these little snippets made the characters all the more real, almost too real…

    centers around August and his best friend, Jack. This book reeled me in quick; I couldn’t put it down and I blew through it in a few sittings. It’s written in such a poetic and unique way. Even the formatting is incredibly unique.

    . The two boys you see on the cover? Yeah, you’ll see more of them. I felt like these little snippets made the characters all the more real, almost too real…

    . August…even thinking about him makes me want to wrap him up in a warm blanket.

    He has to fend for himself, taking care of his mom and selling drugs for money. He is loyal to the people he loves to a fault. Jack is infinitely less responsible. He comes from a well-off family but his parents are almost never home so August is the one who takes care of him, cooking for him, keeping him company on Christmas and basically being there for him in every way.

    These two have known each other from a very young age and

    . It’s hard to even describe, you’d have to read it to understand. It’s almost obsessive and too-dependent but then they’d do or say something to each other and it’s the cutest thing ever.

    .

    When August finds out that Jack has degenerative hallucinatory disorder his immediate reaction is to try and get help, but Jack insists that

    and August, being the loyal friend he is, agrees. Jack leads them deeper and deeper into the elaborate fantasy world only he can see and soon, they’re both unsure as to what’s real and what’s fantasy. Things spiral down fast and their relationship strains as they both try to figure out the connection between them. August already has too much to carry and Jack’s worsening condition leaves him unraveled. The growing tension and confusion is even alluded to by the color of the pages; they get darker and darker as you go till they become all-black near the conclusion.

    Although I enjoyed this book, I found myself confused a few times and the ending kind of disappointed me a bit. I really wanted more from the ending. I want more of August and Jack in general. I can’t vouch for the quality of representation of bisexuality and degenerative hallucinatory disorder so I’m interested in hearing from others.

    . I look forward to seeing more from this author.

  • destiny ☠ howling libraries

    Because I've gotten a few comments and private messages lately regarding this review, I'd like to preface it by stating that this is an ARC review, not a review of the finished copy. The author has informed me that she amended several of the problems I had with the ARC, so I am currently awaiting a finished copy to reread. If my thoughts change, I will certainly be updating my review to match that!

    ---

    When Jac

    Because I've gotten a few comments and private messages lately regarding this review, I'd like to preface it by stating that this is an ARC review, not a review of the finished copy. The author has informed me that she amended several of the problems I had with the ARC, so I am currently awaiting a finished copy to reread. If my thoughts change, I will certainly be updating my review to match that!

    ---

    When Jack begins to show signs of a hallucinatory disorder, his best friend, August, is determined to carry him through the illness. Even when Jack comes to August, telling him they must go on a quest in this hallucinated world. The quest is a dangerous one, but August can't leave his best friend - after all, Jack is his Wicker King.

    Holy hell, was this book confusing at times. The wording is fine, but I found the chapters very difficult to keep track of. Each "chapter" is just 1-2 pages, and the passage of time is bizarre. Some pages spanned a few minutes, while others spanned days.

    August is our primary MC, and he's a likable enough kid, but I never felt like I really learned that much about him. There's just no emotional connection to him at all.

    I did appreciate his undying love for Jack, but it was also hard to watch how he handled those feelings. He let Jack get away with murder, and then when things got too tough, he just coped with his feelings through denial and sex with various girls that he admitted he cared nothing about.

    I found Jack to be a tremendously more fleshed-out character than August, and I wish that we could have seen things from just his perspective sometimes.

    I appreciated the fact that he

    the things he was seeing weren't there. I think a lot of fictional portrayals of schizoaffective disorder (which is what Jack is assumed to have in the book) showcase a Hollywood ideal of being hopelessly out of touch with the real world and having no idea that these things are hallucinations, but that's not the case for many people with hallucinatory disorders. It brought a realistic touch to the story for me, every time he mentioned trying to separate what he knew was real from what his mind was showing him.

    In the beginning of the book, we learn that the boys have committed arson and have been arrested; the rest of the story is just the events that lead up to the moment of arrest, and then what happened after their sentencing was carried out. I won't give away the ending, but I will say that it pissed me off, and I found myself skimming through the pages past that point because I just wanted the book to

    at that point.

    This book was originally advertised to me as an LGBTQ+ story, and you guys know me - I'm a sucker for a good queer story, especially when the characters are bisexual! Unfortunately, that "rep" was all but invisible. There are implications here and there, but 90% of the story is just hardcore queer-baiting, and I've no longer got

    patience for that.

    Given that this was literally one of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2017, I am so sad to say that I just wish I could get back the 2 hours I spent reading this book. I spent most of that time disappointed, confused, or downright irritated, and I can't say I would hurry to recommend this book. If the author decides to write more books in the future, I don't think I'll be picking them up.

    You can also find this review (and more) on my

    !

  • charlotte

    well shit,

  • ⚔ Silvia ⚓

    "psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness" sounds pretty awesome if you ask me. Bonus points for bi rep!

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    Have you ever read a book that you love, but also feel as if you'd be judged by everyone for recommending? This is that book for me.

    .

    is told with gradually darkening pages, beginning white and slowly getting darker and darker, and with incredibly short chapters. I found it

    a

    Have you ever read a book that you love, but also feel as if you'd be judged by everyone for recommending? This is that book for me.

    .

    is told with gradually darkening pages, beginning white and slowly getting darker and darker, and with incredibly short chapters. I found it

    and utterly

    I mean, what do I even say? I could not put it down. The writing is so utterly enthralling. The pacing is so quick, with each page so short that it’s easy to consume.

    And now let's talk characters. August and Jack are two of the most TragicTM characters I have ever read about and I sort of love them. August’s character voice is so incredibly well-done, and his love for Jack and Riya is written very well.

    I’ve seen plenty of accusations of queerbaiting as to this book, and while I understand the point of view, I disagree.

    follows a lead character who is written as questioning and a relationship that is somewhere between friends and lovers -

    The relationship does actually explicitly become canon towards the end, something that was true for the arc as well but

    .

    I don’t know.

    I think Ancrum’s vision for this book is brilliant and I’m so glad I got a chance to read it.

    I feel like so much of this book was

    . The two lead characters are… sort of obsessed with each other, and K. Ancrum strays so far from narratively supporting

    decrying some of the actions taken by characters in this book that I

    didn’t know how to feel about anything. But I think K. Ancrum strays away from making this story feel like a romanticizing of mental illness by showing the gritty realism of it all.

    All in all, I thought this was brilliant. You'll either think it's weird or think it's just as brilliant as I did, and you know what?

    |

    |

    |

  • Jessi ♡

    Some books feel like you're reading a recycled version of past books, like you're reading the same characters with just a bit of a difference, the same relationship dynamic except with a few different pet names. This book is completely it's own, different, a relieved sigh left me when I felt like I was reading something NEW, something unique, something so important and interesting and intriguing, that I was lacking in the hundred+ books I read this year... and the last.

    Reading the author's fin

    Some books feel like you're reading a recycled version of past books, like you're reading the same characters with just a bit of a difference, the same relationship dynamic except with a few different pet names. This book is completely it's own, different, a relieved sigh left me when I felt like I was reading something NEW, something unique, something so important and interesting and intriguing, that I was lacking in the hundred+ books I read this year... and the last.

    Reading the author's final note at the end of the book, I realized, she's right... if you've been through difficult situations where you have to find a way, any way, of coping and sometimes those ways aren't the 'healthiest' ways, and I beat yourself off for it, and I go hard on yourself and you are tired and burdened ... you will find August and Jack easy to relate to, easy to see That Could Be Me.

    I loved the plot, I loved every single character that was introduced, I loved the main relationship. I'm mostly a person that read books FOR characters, and god... there's a reason this is in my Favorites shelf... it surpassed my expectations.

    I've seen people call it queer-baiting and without spoiling anything I would say, there's NO WAY this book isn't gay. The only way to make this gayer is, idk... explicit sex scenes? And I have seen some girls (most of them straight) that only read lgbt books to read about two men fucking, so to them I would recommend to take their fetishizing of gay/bi men to another place. Go to the romantic m/m NA section, there's lots of that there for you. This is not a story to fetishize and get off to, mates. I think it's something needed, and new, and an entire unique thing on its own. It's a beautiful story. It's a weird story. I loved it.

  • Chelsea

    you guys.....this book.......reminded me so much of my merlin/arthur feelings ;;

    a king and his lionheart....boys who would throw themselves into the pits of hell for each other......I gotta go cry goodbye

    Actual review to (maybe) come closer to release date

    ARC was provided by the author

  • Callie (lovelybookishbelle)

    Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    This was my most anticipated release for fall and I was beyond excited to receive an ARC. I immediately started it and once I started I couldn't stop. The only thing that prevented me from actually finishing it in one siting was having to go to work, and as soon as I was home again I devoured the second half.

    First off, this book was unlike anything I have ever read. It was magical and intriguing and dark a

    Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    This was my most anticipated release for fall and I was beyond excited to receive an ARC. I immediately started it and once I started I couldn't stop. The only thing that prevented me from actually finishing it in one siting was having to go to work, and as soon as I was home again I devoured the second half.

    First off, this book was unlike anything I have ever read. It was magical and intriguing and dark and strange. The main characters had some serious issues, and their relationship was often unhealthy, but in spite of all that I couldn't help but root for them.

    I loved August. I loved his devotion and loyalty to Jack even if at times it was misguided. He did the things he did out of a fierce love for his friend, and even when there was no one to protect him, and their world was spiraling out of control, he never stopped trying to protect Jack.

    And then there was Jack. For anyone that has read Nora Sakavic's

    series, there were moments when Jack's controlling demeanor reminded me of Andrew Minyard (whom I love). And his rapidly unraveling mental health and grasp on reality was both interesting and terrifying. I was constantly worried about what would happen and sometimes it felt like you were falling into his mad world of kings and magic and monstrous creatures.

    Also, the writing in this was beautiful. It was simple, and elegant and straightforward, all of which I love. I'm going to share my favorite quote, and it may be

    spoilery, so feel free to skip it if you want, but it's beautiful so you should probably read it.

    I don't know if that is just my slightly obsessive love of stars, but I reread that part at least ten times because it's beautiful and I love it so much.

    Lastly, I LOVED the format of this book! I don't know about you, but short chapters give me life, and this book was the epitome of short chapters. I don't think any chapter was over three pages long, and most of them consisted of only a page. So basically, it was heaven. And interspersed throughout the whole book were pictures and sketches which I adored. I can't wait until my pre-order arrives so I can actually see all the ones I missed in the ARC!

  • Joshua Gabriel (Ever Bookish Josh)

    .

    .

    August and Jack were such messed up character

    .

    .

    August and Jack were such messed up characters. I didn't expect this novel to be so weird. Still, I must say that it was very intriguing. It's been a long time since I finished a book in three sittings. Overall, three words can be used to perfectly describe

    : queer, dark, and spellbinding.

    When I picked up this novel, I immediately noticed its strange features. The titles of each chapter were seemingly random, the pages gradually became darker as the story progressed, and morose character portraits appeared every now and then. Thankfully, my fondness for literary theory/criticism enabled me to understand and appreciate the beauty of such organized chaos. For example, I realized that the gradual darkening of the pages was a clever metaphor for the characters' journey into insanity. I don't want to spoil anyone further, so I highly suggest that you Google "Modernism" or "stream of consciousness" before you start reading.

    As an afterthought,

    is also queer in that one could question the sexuality of the protagonists. August and Jack's relationship was predominantly platonic, but I could tell that there was something more between them. Whatever they had definitely blurred the distinction between bromance and actual romance.

    Gleaning upon the definition of codependency supplied above,

    was a shocking exploration of one of the most controversial topics in YA/NA literature: abusive relationships. I was initially very supportive of August and Jack's bromance, so I was utterly surprised when things took a dark turn.

    Because of a nearly tragic event in their childhood, August firmly believed that he belonged to Jack. August was a "soldier," and Jack was his "king". In other words, August was willing to do everything that Jack commanded. Jack, who suffered from vivid hallucinations, obviously had to be hospitalized. However, little did I know that August also had mental issues to deal with. I was rendered speechless by the crazy, unhealthy, and illegal things they did just to fulfill a what-the-heck prophecy.

    Even though this book clearly wasn't written to evoke positive emotions, it was hard to put down. If I didn't have to go to work, I could've finished it in a few hours. I loved how most of the chapters consisted of only one page because it made the plot incredibly fast-paced. Plus, I was constantly intrigued by the mental health aspect of the book. Until now, the nerdy side of me wants to learn more about codependency. I would like to thank the author for giving me an enlightening reading experience.

    I enjoyed

    because it's the most unique book I've read this year. Still, I can't confidently say that I loved everything about it. I cared for August and Jack, but their story probably deserves a different ending. (That is always up for debate.) ;)

  • anna (readingpeaches)

    Things I loved about this:

    » the characters. August & Jack are utterly lovable (and

    : in love) but also “problematique” by which I mean they both struggle with their mental health while not getting any help from adults around them. Their relationship was one of the most intense ones I have ever read about & there are no clean lines there but that just makes it so much more interesting. If you thought Gansey & Ronan’s friendship was exciting (the “While I’m gone, dream me

    Things I loved about this:

    » the characters. August & Jack are utterly lovable (and

    : in love) but also “problematique” by which I mean they both struggle with their mental health while not getting any help from adults around them. Their relationship was one of the most intense ones I have ever read about & there are no clean lines there but that just makes it so much more interesting. If you thought Gansey & Ronan’s friendship was exciting (the “While I’m gone, dream me the world” bit!!!), you are gonna LOVE this. (And realise what it was you found missing in TRC.)

    » the atmosphere. The book literally starts with the boys being arrested for committing arson & then we get to see their journey toward that point and its fallout. And, exactly like you can imagine, this means that the story starts dark and only gets darker & darker & more creepy. It crawls under your skin, it catches your breath. It also wouldn’t probably be received by the reader in such a vivid & harsh way, if it wasn’t for the two main characters and the fact that’s clear from the very beginning: that they would both die for each other, gladly. Because with that kind of a relationship, it’s really hard not to care about the characters yourself.

    »the setting. It’s marketed as a psychological thriller and yes, that’s pretty much what you’re getting yourself into. But there’s also this whole fantasy world within the story and when you’re not thinking about how fucked up it is that it’s here - it’s truly amazing. It’s not some golden magical kingdom you might be thinking about, though. It’s a kingdom, alright, but a dark one, full of thorny branches, endless hungry crows & champions who look like your friends but with dead hollow eyes. This world, like everything in this story, gets darker & more dangerous with every turned page and leaves you wishing for a good night’s sleep.

    » the grand scheme of things. I mentioned there are some questionable elements in the boys’ relationship. Those make everything that much more intense & they rip your heart out but also: nothing about them is really healthy. See, the thing about

    is though, that it acknowledges that. Throughout the book, in some small but clearly visible ways, but also - the whole ending is a testament to that. The boys get better, they know finally what’s going on & they know they have to break the cycle.

    » the side characters. This is connected to the previous point. Because my favourite part about them - all of them beautiful teens!! - is that they are

    . They are all trying very hard to help August & Jack, to keep them in check & not to let them run wild. To set some reasonable boundaries.

    » the writing. It kind of seems almost irresponsible to make a whole separate point just about this when in truth, the writing holds the story together. It fits perfectly into the eerie scenes it describes, making them more poignant & making sense of them. Kayla’s style is beautiful in this simple & yet powerful way that we’re used to finding in poetry, not in prose. I think the shortness of the chapters helps with that aspect as well but mostly, it’s this amazing attention to detail. With a style that’s first of all haunting, Kayla makes the reader focus on just the emotions she needs (and that we’d rather not think about).

    » the titles of chapters. I must admit I was a little put out & a little confused by how short the chapters are at first. That feeling went away quickly - this trick works out fabulously here actually. But the titles themselves, they’re sometimes very straightforward (just a name or a place or a one-word description) & sometimes they make no sense at all. Until you finish the chapter and then the title puts the scene in a completely new perspective & makes it twice as painful. (I’m still thinking about “Communion” days later…)

    is a lyrical fall down a rabbit hole. It’s terrifying but won’t let you rest until you reach the very end. And just when you’re thinking you won’t ever wake up from the nightmare again, that you’re stuck in this suffocating prison of prickles & thorns forever - it turns the light back on.


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