The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
Publisher: Imprint (FierceReads)
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Summary: 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 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.
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: The Wicker King is a dark and thrilling mystery that will keep you immersed and on the edge of your seat! The lyrical and raw writing delivers such emotion and conveys a dark and gritty atmosphere of mystery and suspense!
From the summary, I knew The Wicker King would be an intriguing mystery, but there were so many elements that surprised me and I became so invested into the world, plot, and characters!
Set in 2003, we follow August and Jack have been long time friends, since they were kids. Now as the years passed, they have their own friend circles, but outside of school still manage to maintain their deep and complex friendship.
There are also side characters, such as Rina + twins Roger and Peter, play a much more central role in Jack and August’s story as it progresses. Though for me personally a lot of the other minor side characters weren’t as developed as I would have hoped.
Then Roger suspects that Jack may be losing sight of reality and implores August to help his friend. As August begins to find out for himself, he soon learns more about Jack’s alternate fantasy with magic, monsters, and a quest, which tells of a prophecy only they can fulfill!
There’s discussion of co-dependency between Jack and August as its clear that Jack is very much in control of the dynamics of their friendship. While August wants to ensure Jack’s well-being, he can’t help but continue to feel obligated towards him and keep their relationship from fracturing.
Ancrum explores the dark and complicated elements of their codependent relationship and how it above all, impacts August the most.
The lyrical and vivid 3rd person POV flows perfectly with the overall dark and mysterious tone of the story, while really allowing you to see the characters (especially Jack and August) in such a unique way, focusing more on their inner psyche and unique sides to their character.
What also brings so much more to the novel is the format of the novel! With pages going from light to dark as the story progresses, which was brilliant and further conveyed how the story grows into a much more complex, darker, and mysterious tale! There’s also additional illustrations, newspaper clippings, photographs, etc. all which really add more depth & an intriguing element of mystery!
Both August and Jack are developed so well that you really understand whats going on their heads through the short, but impactful sentences and chapters.
While this is a pretty quick moving mystery-thriller, its done in such a way where it slowly descends and unravels into a darker tale as the story progresses.
Arcum delivers dark mystery and suspense so perfectly! Alongside the quick, emotional and raw writing-style, it just brings together the plot and intricacies of August & Jack so perfectly!
From just such few sentences, we know about Jack & Augusts parents and how their neglect for their kids really impacted them and caused them to rely heavily on each other. (With Jack’s parent’s absence & August’s mother’s depression).
Mental Illness and health slowly gets weaved into the story and really cements itself into the story as it progresses.
As for diversity, we have one of our main characters August Bateman who is biracial and bisexual (as is Jack) and a GLBT+ relationship that clearly develops among Jack and August.
The story is brilliantly plotted and honestly had me up late reading just to unravel the mysteries of this book and the fascinating characters, August and Jack.
With twists, dark and atmospheric writing, discussion on mental health, brilliantly crafted main characters, among other fantastic elements, The Wicker King is a perfect mystery read!