This review is spoiler free.
“My mom once told me that being alone makes you feel weaker every day, even if you’re not.” he said quietly. “But it’s not as bad if you’re with other people who are alone, too. We can hold each other up like a card tower.”
Series: The Wicker King
Published: 2017, by Imprint.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Fantasy, Health, Mental Health
Contains: Mental Health, Mental Illness, Violence, Anger, Fire, Strong Language, Blood/Gore, Sexual Content, Psychiatric Hospitals
‘The Wicker King’ follows the lives of August and Jack, two seventeen-year-old’s tormented by a childhood of neglect. Jack’s parents are physically absent in his life, whilst August’s Mother is merely a physical presence with no emotional connection to him. So, they depend on another to fill that void. When August learns of Jack’s forming hallucinations of an elaborate fantasy world, he takes it upon himself to help him cope. However, the more things progress, discovering a dark prophecy that Jack wants to fulfil, things begin to head down a dangerous road.
I’ve been meaning to fall in love with another LGBT Fantasy for so long now, and this book called to me with its gorgeous cover. Least to say, I was not disappointed in the content.
August and Jack are some of the most interesting characters I’ve come across in Young Adult Fiction. While reading their journey, it was a complete whirlwind of emotions. I loved them, I disagreed with them, I was unsure of them. At first, Jack made me uncomfortable, his disregard for August’s emotions felt too abusive and terrifying to read about. However, the more I became acquainted with him and learnt about his struggles, the more I understood why he lashed out the way he did. In no way does this novel glorify mental illness, rather it explores the brutal reality of those suffering with it. August, however, was a delight from the start. His unreliable narration throughout the novel kept me gripped into his story, following through his own inner turmoil and dependency of Jack. Their relationship is wonderfully raw, following August as he questions his sexuality and feelings towards his best friend. His language and behaviour keeps you at a distance; you feel unwelcome to love these two as they fall deeper into their problems, as if you can’t approach them too close, but you can’t resist it.
This book is a haunting tale of the main characters neglect, with poetic language and such short chapters that you won’t realise how much time has passed until you find yourself nearing the end. The pages are accompanied by intriguing illustrations, scribbled over photographs, school reports and hospital forms. Yet, my favourite would be the progression between the physical pages, them all gradually turning black as you move through the novel; it’s a unique and brilliant way to keep you immersed in Jack’s mental state.
Overall, this book was a hauntingly beautiful read. It’s complete agony, but the addictive kind.