The Wicker King

The Wicker King

Book - 2017
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Best friends August and Jack struggle to cope as one spirals into madness.
Publisher: New York : Imprint, ©2017.
ISBN: 9781250101549
Characteristics: 313 pages :,illustrations ;,21 cm.


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I went into this book not knowing if I would enjoy it. I knew it was about mental illness, but content-wise, I had my doubts.

I shouldn't have. They have all been wiped away and replaced with emotions so intense that I'm still processing how I feel about August and Jack and their worlds and their stories. This a lot. That means that it's probably not for everyone, but for those of us who it touches at the right time, I think it's absolutely invaluable.

August and Jack are typical seventeen-year-olds. They go to school together, but they run with different crowds, and only come together after classes have finished. And when they do, they become essentially one person, one being so consumed with the other that they have trouble figuring out who wants what, and whose desire is whose. Jack has a hallucinatory disorder, and sees a world that supposedly doesn't exist. But for August, trying his best to take care of Jack, that world feels just as real...whether it is or not.

There are so many things to talk about here. The physical format of the book is stunning, with the pages slowly burning from white to solid black, mirroring events as the boys' worlds get bleaker and more stressful. Ancrum's writing is sparse, the chapters more like pages than actual chapters, but I think that actually adds to the narrative. Readers are left to fill in the details of what happens in the in-between, and August and Jack are no less fleshed out as characters because of it. And they are what drive this story, much more than any kind of plot.

This is a story about boys who are so completely codependent. It's about mental illness and how it touches you differently every time. It's about finding who you are in relation to the people you love, but also, more importantly, who you are standing on your own two feet. It's a hard read. But at the same time, it's thrilling, fast-paced, and so emotional it left me feeling like I had been punched in the gut. I love August and Jack. Fully. With my whole heart. Because and despite of how wonderfully messed up they both are.

JCLChrisK Dec 24, 2019

Disturbing and nebulous in just the right ways, leaving readers feeling simultaneously detached from reality and immersed in emotion and atmosphere. Just like the characters. It is a slow descent into darkness, isolation, and desperation. Never so unsettling or horrific as to be off-putting, more unhealthily obsessive. Just like the characters. It is a book that grabs hold of you and sucks you in, taking you over until you reach the end. It's an enthralling and worthwhile ride.

Feb 20, 2019

The Wicker King was like a wild fever dream that I can’t stop thinking about. I read this book having no idea what it was about or what I was getting into, so it was shocking and intriguing from the very first page. This was one of the rare books that I feel changed something within me, and it left me in a hazy stupor for days. It made me question the nature of reality and how I see the world. I consider it the fantasy brother of the sci-fi book We Are The Ants, by Shaun David Hutchinson. I would recommend this book to everyone, but especially fans of We Are The Ants and other philosophical fiction books. 5/5! @nickreads of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

LPL_WilliamO Nov 15, 2017

Dark, moody, mysterious -- a perfect read for Fall. Both neglected by their parents, August and Jack have always been close and have depended on each other. As Jack begins seeing a world no one else can, he pulls August into more and more dangerous situations. Written with short chapters interspersed with photographs and other multimedia elements, the book will quickly draw you into their world. Best for mature teen readers, as contains some violence and explicit scenes.

The Wicker King is a fascinating novel filled with friendship, worry, and madness. The story revolves around Jack and August - two friends who are the textbook definition of opposites attract. When Jack starts to get hallucinations August helps by believing in him and what he sees as what a friend should. Then Jack and August went on an expedition to fulfill a dark prophecy while struggling not to lose their own sanity.
The author K. Ancrum did an exceptional job of describing the characters physically and mentally. The author description of the setting was poor so he could have described it with a bit more detail. The storyline moved fairly quickly and did not drag on. It had many unsuspecting twists and turns making readers want to find out what happens next. Something unique about this book is the illustrations on the page and the pages itself, like the police forms and the posters they see around the school. The Wicker King by K. Ancrum is a truly astonishing novel. - Savina

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