Review: The Wicker King + The Legend of the Golden Raven – K. Ancrum

“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”.

I’d like to preface this review with stating how beautiful I find the covers for both of these books. The way they compliment each other so well while incorporating elements from the plot into them? Perfection!

The prose flowed and wasn’t at all clunky. It’s the sort of writing that hooks you in and won’t let you go until you finish the book. I also liked that each page was a new ‘chapter’; it gave the story a more intimate feel, as if the reader was looking into a series of vignettes in the lives of Jack and August.

By writing ‘The Wicker King’ in August’s POV, Ancrum makes it easier for the reader to empathise with August, and creates for the reader that ‘otherness’ that August feels from being on the outside of Jack’s inner world. The limited POV for the story adds an extra layer to the plot, as the reader is only made aware of details of Jack’s world as he makes them known to August.

I felt a little unsatisfied at the ending of the novel. I felt like the story needed something more. More content? Richer world-building? I’m not sure to be honest, but the story seemed to fall a little flat, after the resolution revealed that everything was ordinary after all. I think though that maybe that was the intention and nature of the story in the first place. That August and Jack push the boundaries of a codependent relationship, borne out of neglect, to breaking point. Only it’s wrapped in the vibrant adventure that only Jack can see, to act as a distraction, or even coping mechanism, for Jack and August’s impending downfall.

The switch in POV for ‘The Legend of the Golden Raven’ I think was an excellent choice on Ancrum’s part. While the novella doesn’t add anything particularly new to the events of ‘The Wicker King’, it expands on the lore and rules that Jack’s world follows. Some of the key scenes in Jack and August’s relationship are expanded on, adding some clarifications on Jack’s feelings, and provides some background on why he reacts the way he does to certain events.

Despite the ending feeling a little lacklustre, ‘The Wicker King’ and it’s accompanying novella, ‘The Legend of the Golden Raven’, are still reads that I would recommend.

★★★★☆

Thats all for now!