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The Wicker King

Review

The Wicker King

K. Ancrum’s debut novel, THE WICKER KING, was a unique interpretation on mental health, filled to the brim with raw emotions as two boys fall into the brink of madness.

August and Jack have been best friends since they were children living lives harder than the average teen. August’s father is out of the picture, leaving his mother a ghost in his own home, while Jack’s parents are never present in his life, always traveling around for other things. August and Jack ultimately turn to one another for emotional support and form a bond that is pushed to its limits once Jack begins to see images that aren’t real. August only wants Jack to be okay again, so he does everything he can to keep both of them afloat in reality; even if the after effects are dangerous for not only Jack, but himself.

"With a stand-out writing style and a wonderful talent for creating intriguing character development, K. Ancrum is an author I am thrilled to read more from."

A main topic that kept popping up while reading this novel was codependency. The relationship between August and Jack became very toxic as the story grew on and as Jack got sicker they seemed to eat, sleep and breathe the steps each one made. It was my first time being introduced to the subject and from what I read, I thought it was handled amazingly. Just hearing of codependency, people most likely don’t understand how you can become so attached to another human, but through Ancrum’s writing I completely understood the deep connection formed and felt empathetic for both characters.

One thing I adored about this novel was the way it was set up. The pages were a gradient change from (in the beginning) white, then, as the story continued, the pages became darker and darker before becoming completely black. The transformation really helped to set up a tone of desperation and madness reflected off of the characters’ minds in the novel.

Speaking of the characters, I found myself loving our two protagonists. August was stubborn and a bit of a pyromaniac, but at the same time it was so interesting to read from his perspective. Jack was compassionate and as the pages got darker, it pained me to see his sickness transform him into a completely new person. I think the boys handled the situation in the best way that they could with the resources they had considering both were deprived of any parental figures. They basically raised themselves in the presence of one another which is why I think their bond formed as strongly as it did.

The novel had very short chapters (1-2 pages each) which, on one hand, I liked, because it made for a faster reading process, but at the same time it proved difficult to keep up with some of the things going on in the storyline. I’ve also heard people say that the book was “queer-baiting” the relationship between August and Jack but, in actuality, I believe it to be just a slow burn friendship-to-love scenario between the two.

In the end, THE WICKER KING was a pleasant surprise, definitely becoming an addition to my list of favorite books. I recommend this read to anyone interested in mental health novels with a bit of a twist and to fans of Shaun David Hutchinson. With a stand-out writing style and a wonderful talent for creating intriguing character development, K. Ancrum is an author I am thrilled to read more from.

Reviewed by Taylor F., Teen Board Member on December 13, 2017

The Wicker King
by K. Ancrum