My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars
Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
noun co·de·pen·den·cy \ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
August and Jack were such messed up characters. I didn’t expect this novel to be so weird. Still, I must say that it was very intriguing. It’s been a long time since I finished a book in three sittings. Overall, three words can be used to perfectly describe The Wicker King: queer, dark, and spellbinding.
When I picked up this novel, I immediately noticed its strange features. The titles of each chapter were seemingly random, the pages gradually became darker as the story progressed, and morose character portraits appeared every now and then. Thankfully, my fondness for literary theory/criticism enabled me to understand and appreciate the beauty of such organized chaos. For example, I realized that the gradual darkening of the pages was a clever metaphor for the characters’ journey into insanity. I don’t want to spoil anyone further, so I highly suggest that you Google “Modernism” or “stream of consciousness” before you start reading.
As an afterthought, The Wicker King is also queer in that one could question the sexuality of the protagonists. August and Jack’s relationship was predominantly platonic, but I could tell that there was something more between them. Whatever they had definitely blurred the distinction between bromance and actual romance.
Gleaning upon the definition of codependency supplied above, The Wicker King was a shocking exploration of one of the most controversial topics in YA/NA literature: abusive relationships. I was initially very supportive of August and Jack’s bromance, so I was utterly surprised when things took a dark turn.
Because of a nearly tragic event in their childhood, August firmly believed that he belonged to Jack. August was a “soldier,” and Jack was his “king”. In other words, August was willing to do everything that Jack commanded. Jack, who suffered from vivid hallucinations, obviously had to be hospitalized. However, little did I know that August also had mental issues to deal with. I was rendered speechless by the crazy, unhealthy, and illegal things they did just to fulfill a what-the-heck prophecy.
Even though this book clearly wasn’t written to evoke positive emotions, it was hard to put down. If I didn’t have to go to work, I could’ve finished it in a few hours. I loved how most of the chapters consisted of only one page because it made the plot incredibly fast-paced. Plus, I was constantly intrigued by the mental health aspect of the book. Until now, the nerdy side of me wants to learn more about codependency. I would like to thank the author for giving me an enlightening reading experience.
I enjoyed The Wicker King because it’s the most unique book I’ve read this year. Still, I can’t confidently say that I loved everything about it. I cared for August and Jack, but their story probably deserves a different ending. (That is always up for debate.) 😉