Title: The Wicker King
Series: The Wicker King, #1
Author: K. Ancrum
Genre: YA Contemporary
My rating: ★★★★★
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.
The Wicker King is my first read of 2019 and what a great way to start out the new year! This was also Melanie and I’s pick for our first Dragons & Tea Book Club read, and we couldn’t be more honored that so many of you joined us! Also a HUGE thank you to author K. Ancrum for joining our book club and answering all our questions. We couldn’t have asked for a better book and reading experience to kick off 2019.
This ownvoices book left me speechless, and I can’t really put into words how unique and heartbreaking it is. And that dedication? The best thing I ever read.
What starts out as two boys getting arrested for setting fire to a toy factory turns into a flashback of what happened prior to those events. It’s a deep look into mental illness and the lines that are blurred between fantasy and reality.
So while this book leans more on the contemporary side, I want to address that there are major triggers for mental illness (hallucinations), anxiety and depression, child abandonment/neglect, and codependency.
At first I was expecting to be fully transported into Jack’s fantasy world/mind, however as the story progresses, we eventually were thrown into August’s mind, and how much of an impact Jack’s disorder was having on August. And this regression of his mind is depicted in the physical pages of the book — they turn darker and darker. Truly, this book’s format is such an experience of its own!
And aside from the themes of mental health, this book addresses the issue of parental neglect and abandonment. How these boys had no safe space and didn’t know who to turn to for help. So they leaned on each other to the point where they had major codependency issues. However, there is another character who steps in to provide Jack and August a safe, supportive environment, and she may be one of my new favorite characters ever.
I’m sorry if this review was so vague, but I truly didn’t want to reveal anything spoilery. I think this is one of those books you should just dive right in (if you are in the right headspace!) to get the full experience.
We have a Goodreads group for anyone who is interested in joining our Dragons & Tea Book Club! Information regarding our February pick, discussion boards, etc are all over there! 🙂