The Wicker King by K.A. Ancrum

Synopsis:

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 Thoughts:

This book is dedicated to all the kids whose arms are filled with too much for them to hold, but who are trying their best not to drop a single thing. I see you and I am proud of you for trying

The Wicker King follows two best friends Jack Rossi and August Bateman. Jack and August have been best friends and inseparable for the past ten years. They have an interesting and unusual friendship, but they would do anything for each other no matter what. Because they have such a close relationship with each other, it wasn’t long before August saw that there was something going on with Jack. Jack began showing signs of a degenerative hallucinatory disorder. Jack starts having these vivid hallucinations, that get worse with every passing day and being his best friend August is determined to help Jack. No matter what.

Right off the bat, this is such a quick read. The chapters for this book are short and fast-paced, this helps move the book along and every single chapter left wanting more. At first, I was worried about having such short chapters, but within only 20 pages I was hooked. Ancrum’s writing is so beautiful and lyrical, and Jack and August as well with all the other characters felt so relatable and real. They felt and acted like teenagers which I loved.

The bond between Jack and August felt so real. I had absolutely no doubt that these two loved each other, with their whole hearts. And I understood that within the first 59 pages. Jack and August are so different from each other but they work and understand each other so well. Jack is more open, he’s an athlete, and popular, while August is literally the opposite. August is closed off the everybody except Jack, tends to be a loner, likes to be invisible, and acts and carries himself in certain ways to be overlooked. These two were dealing with so much, and the burdens that they carried on their shoulders was heartbreaking. But no matter what they always had each other, the bond between these two is amazing, while also being unhealthy and times just downright scary.

The complexity of Jack and August’s relationship messed me up. The understanding and the unadulterated devotion to each other was amazing to see, but at the same time, I couldn’t ignore how unhealthy the whole thing was. Their relationship is complicated, and it was furthermore highlighted anytime to were surrounded by their other friends. The relationship between Jack + August is so immersive, but the whole friend group, in general, is pretty amazing. August has a complicated relationship with Gordie but the love between the two felt genuine. The twins, Peter + Roger, are complex and unusual but are loyal to August and by extension Jack. The Twins while in the beginning kind of rubbed me the wrong way, became people that I valued and loved, because of their genuine care and loyalty to August. The Twins did so much and tried so hard, and they way they constantly checked in on August, warmed my heart. Alex is like the mother hen of the group, I love her. Rina, is this strong, take no shit woman, who looks out for these two kids and I adore her character and the extra layer she adds to Jack and August’s relationship/friendship.

There are so many twists and turns in this book that had me questioning, screaming, and crying. For the majority of the book I felt like I knew what was happening, and then it all comes to a head and I was just left realizing that I didn’t know anything. There is so much more to this book than what I had originally thought, and realizing that was mind trip, but also made me realize how heartbreaking and lonely the world that Jack + August are living in, and how much sense it makes that they would hold on to each other for dear life. They are carrying around so much baggage and trauma, that they’re drowning and their simultaneity trying to save the other one.

This book really messed me up.

Therefore, I highly recommend it! It’s truly a masterpiece, with amazing characters, and world building. It keeps you guessing and questioning, and makes you want to protect these kids. It’s about hurt and pain, and not knowing how to handle it, or how to express that your hurt, or that you need help. This is something that many of us have struggled with and still are, I know I am. Jack and August are just kids and they handled the situation as best as they could, it’s heartbreaking to watch but so unbelievably relatable.

If you decide to pick this book up, please read the Author’s note. It’s amazing and beautiful and offers so much understanding and insight into the characters.



This was the first pick for the Dragons & Tea Book Club, make sure to check them out if you haven’t already. February’s pick looks so good, and I’m excited!

3 thoughts on “The Wicker King by K.A. Ancrum

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