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The Wicker King

by Ancrum, K.

Book list Told in flashes of microfiction and progressively darkening pages of evocative doodles and hand-scrawled notes, Ancrum's debut explores the simmering, troubling, codependent relationship between two teen boys, as one becomes plagued by hallucinations of another world, and the other goes to self-destructive lengths to protect him. August and Jack have been friends since they were kids, but they travel in radically different orbits at school. When Jack starts seeing odd objects and receiving strange messages from a world layered on top of their own, August drops everything to help him fulfill a quest. While the structure necessarily, and sometimes to the detriment of the narrative, glides over a lot of background and character development, those missing moments largely serve to amp up the deeply unsettling nature of the boys' friendship the sexually charged relationship between August and Jack treads a fine line at the beginning, but it gradually grows into a more sinister power play made eerier by what's left out. Teen fans of moody psychological horror will be entranced.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 10 Up-An intense and disturbing book that is reluctant reader-friendly flash fiction and packs a punch despite its brevity. August and Jack have been like brothers from the beginning: their mothers are best friends, and the boys were practically raised together. Jack, always the leader with a vivid imagination, brought the willing August into his world of make-believe where Jack was king and August his faithful knight. That relationship has endured into high school, where they rely on each other for the support their dysfunctional families can't provide. When Jack begins seeing images from an alternate reality intruding on his everyday life, August knows that his friend needs help. But August believes he owes Jack, who once saved him from drowning, and thinks this could be the opportunity to repay that life debt. Jack is adamant that, to escape his visions, he must complete a quest, but his last task depends on August's help. August is once again drawn into Jack's fantasy world, risking his life to do his friend's bidding. At first, their final blazing act of glory appears a success-but Jack's visions fail to vanish, and both of them are separated and imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital where August's mental stability may be more in question than Jack's. Like Libba Bray's Going Bovine, Ancrum delves into the blurry space between reality and madness. Short chapters are interspersed with artwork, photos, and scanned images. VERDICT A haunting and provocative read that will keep teens riveted. A strong choice for most YA shelves.-Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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