My Rating: 5 stars
The Wicker King follows August and Jack, who have been best friends since childhood. And their difficult home lives have made them a little too reliant on each other. When Jack begins hallucinating a fantasy world that he needs to save, August is concerned but goes along with it hoping things will get better. But as Jack falls further and further into his delusions, August falls with him. This relationship. Oh my god. It is so utterly toxic and co-dependent, and I loved every second of it. Ancrum writes the characters and their dynamic so well! The adults in their lives fail them repeatedly, causing them to grow more and more dependent on each other, which only leads to destruction. It’s heartbreaking. It’s entrancing. I loved it.
One of the most unique features of this book is that it’s mixed-media. There are photographs, drawings, and even written out mixtapes for each character. I was especially fond of the photographs and felt they added a lot to the experience. However, since I read this on my Kindle, I had a hard time making out the writing on the mixtape pages. I also apparently missed out on the pages getting darker and darker as the book goes on, which only happens in the print edition (for obvious reasons). I might have to buy a physical copy just for that. One downfall of this is that these features aren’t included in the audiobook edition; you just get the text. So fair warning that it isn’t the best audiobook read because you miss out on the full experience.
The one thing I didn’t love was the short chapters. Sometimes they were just a page or two, and I don’t think any were longer than five. This really threw me off at first because I felt like I wasn’t being given enough time in each scene. I wanted to revel in each moment, and you just can’t do that when the chapter is a page long. However, as the book went on, I did get used to it. I initially gave the book 4.5 stars because of it. But the longer I’ve thought on it, the more I feel the chapter lengths didn’t matter. This is a 5 star book for me and one I’ll be returning to.
Overall, The Wicker King is an amazing look at a toxic, co-dependent relationship. It’s beautifully done, and it should be far more popular than it is. Everyone go out and read this!