Reviewing THE WICKER KING by K. Ancrum, plus a Playlist AND an EXCLUSIVE gif from the book's photoshoot!!!

Seeing Double in NeverLand
Interview with author
Novel Novice
Styled by Books
A Backwards Story
Take Me Away to a Great Read
Mood Board
Love is Not a Triangle
Would You Rather Q's
Undeniably Book Nerdy
Guest Post: Creating August and Jack's Characters: Inspirations and Challenges
It Starts at Midnight
Guest Post: top ten favorite stories with alternate worlds and/or realities
Book Briefs
Guest Post: Top 10 Things we didn't know about Kayla!
Adventures of a Book Junkie
Across the Words
Character Cast

Hi Bookworms! We have a fantastic treat for you today! Not ONLY are we reviewing the fantastic novel THE WICKER KING (out next week!), but since playlists and music play an important part in the book, we're featuring our OWN playlist inspired by THE WICKER KING.

Every single blog on the tour also features an EXCLUSIVE .gif file featuring a moment from THE WICKER KING's photoshoot. How cool is that?? I love that we get to share a sneak peek with you guys!

Without further ado....

P L A Y L I S T:

The Wicker King is a YA psychological thriller available for purchase by bookworms everywhere on October 31st. I was so excited to make a playlist for a book that sounded so exciting and right up my alley. Happily I can say that I got to read THE WICKER KING and that has helped me put together a playlist that really reflects my reading experience and the emotions elicited by the characters and the storyline:

1. Trouble Is a Friend ~ Lenka
2. Till the Casket Drops ~ ZZ Ward
3. Come Under the Covers ~ Walk the Moon
4. Thistle and Weeds ~ Mumford & Sons
5. What I Wouldn't Do ~ A Fine Frenzy
6. Kaleidoscope ~ The Script
7. Broad-Shouldered Beasts ~ Mumford & Sons
8. Unsteady ~ XX Ambassadors
9. We Are Broken ~ Paramore
10. Brick by Boring Brick ~ Paramore
11. Renegades ~ XX Ambassadors
12. Believer ~ Imagine Dragons
13. I Have Seen the Future ~ The Bravery
14. Please Don't Leave Me ~ P!NK
15. Better ~ One Republic

What's this??? MORE words? But Mandy we thought this was just a playlist blog tour post, what in the world are you doing you crazy kid???

I'm a being a rebel, that's what. I mean, this book was going to get a book review no matter what because I loved it to pieces. Following that vein of thought, I figured why not do it right here so that you can take a look at the playlist and my flailing word vomit disguised as a professional piece of writing.

O P E N I N G   L I N E:


   They were thirteen the first time they broke into the toy factory.
It was almost midnight, it was freezing outside, and August was fucking terrified. He pushed his dark hair out of his face, plastering himself to Jack’s back while Jack tried to jimmy the handle open.
   “Come on, come on. You’re so slow. We’re going to get caught, you asshole,” he whispered.
   Jack ignored him. August always got mean when he was scared.
   After a couple more seconds of watching Jack rattle the handle, August gave up on that approach entirely and just threw a brick through the window instead.
   They both flinched at the sound of breaking glass and ducked farther into the shadows. When the police didn’t burst out of nowhere and arrest them immediately, August turned back to Jack and grinned.
   Jack punched him in the arm and grinned back. “Quit showing off. Race you inside?”
   “Thank you, August, for getting us in. I don’t know what I would do without you. Oh, you’re welcome, Jack. Anything for you, princess,” August deadpanned.
   Jack pushed him. “Why are you such a dick? Just get inside.”
   They crawled in through the broken window and dropped down to the floor.
   “Did you bring your flashlight?”
   “No, Jack. I followed you through the night to break into an abandoned building without a flashlight.”
   “Seriously. Stop bitching. What is wrong with you?”
   “I’m scared. I feel like I’m trapped with you in a more terrifying version of Bridge to Terabithia.”
   “You’re not. And you need to stop reading books like that. Now give me your flashlight.”
   August handed it over miserably.
   Jack turned it on, the dim light bringing out the hollows of his face. “Oh yeah. Ha ha ha, wow. Yeah, this might be the best place in the whole town. We are definitely coming back here in the morning.”
   And even though Jack’s word was pretty much law, August fervently prayed that they wouldn’t go back ever again.

(pg. 1, US e-ARC)

First things first, let's chat formatting. I have to say that I am obsessed with the growing mixed media trend. When a book stops to show you an arrest report, or a handwritten letter, or a picture of the character looking exactly the way I was feeling after a particularly brutal scene, there's a magic to be had. I sometimes have trouble visualizing stories all by lonesome, and so this extra bit of eye candy helps me get that much more wrapped up in the story, and sometimes the mixed media gives you hints or tells you things that the narrative of the storyline isn't ready to give to you yet. This format isn't for everyone, but god I absolutely loved it. Aside from the mixed media aspects, the chapters themselves are very unique and may not be for everyone. Some of them are short, spanning seconds or just an hour, while others are long and overlook the activities of days or weeks. There's a "free association" rambly quality to August's narrative and that kept me interested. I imagined that what I was reading, especially when the pictures and notes and drawings came into play, was a mental journal of August's account. Which means it's not going to be crisp and polished, it can't be, because sometimes his panicked mind is going to circle in on an abstract thought for six pages and sometimes he'll be calmly going over an event. The narrative follows what he's thinking of at that moment and you have to be ready to just shift with it as the reader. Again this style may not be for everyone, but I think it worked really well to help create the book's atmosphere and that sense of puzzling together indistinct pieces and at moments being as confused as the main character.

Speaking of characters, let's talk about those, because I want to hug them all and take care of them forever. It's very easy to start this book and wonder why we aren't being told the story through Jack's eyes. He's the one seeing a world that isn't there, he's presumably the one falling apart with August his loyal and panicked sidekick. In the end I came to enjoy experiencing the story through August, however and it's clear that he is falling apart in his own way. Both of these boys are breaking down mentally, but they are so devoted to each other, clinging to the one constant and dependable relationship they have. See when you're a 17 year old who keeps himself stable and together on the outside but has always had fissure cracks and scars on the inside, trying to hold your best friend up is going to exploit your own vulnerabilities too. Watching the effect on August matters just as much as Jack's experience, it's about the push and the pull, the way they effect each other as they try desperately to find a way to put the pieces of themselves back in place. What I loved about the presentation of Jack was that he was aware that what he was seeing was not real. There was no delusion here, giving in to his visions was more a coping mechanism, a hope that if he played it out it would all fade away. For August there was a similar motivation, a hope that if he gave himself over to the game and the visions they'd be okay and he wouldn't have to lose Jack.  Some of the other characters in the story were hit or miss side characters that I felt indifferent to, but the other gem of the story is Rina. She's the first person August and Jack really let into their world, not just the obstacles they're experiencing, but how they are with each other are, who Jack and August are together. Many people point out to August that his attachment to Jack may be more than platonic, but I don't think it's until Rina says something that August really admits he really stops hiding from his own thoughts. I love the three of them together, Rina is such an open and fierce character, and she becomes a safe space and sanctuary for two boys who can't depend on their own parents to help them cope with their experiences.

If you like your psychological thrillers to hit you right in the feels, one-two punches that never quite cease, then this is a book for you. If you can handle slow burn and question marks, souls that aren't sure they can completely click into place because they are not functioning as fully whole entities at the moment, then you'll love the tension between the characters. If you want the nostalgia of memories of childhood play, and bonds that are tested in the most vividly trying of ways, then I think you'll fall into The Wicker King just like I did.

C O V E  S H O O T
T O U  E X C L U S I V  G I F:


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG15 (A few sex scenes and sexual innuendo, one scene is more graphic than the rest)
Language: PG13 (Mild Cursing, things like the F*bomb )
Violence:PG13 ( There's one short scene where pushing is involved, momentary bits of physical roughness between the two characters.)
Other: --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

My boys are on this cover. Jack is in the forefront, surrounded by cool designs you'll see in the storyline, representations of the things he's seeing. And August is there in the background, protective stance, surrounded but not a part of the world Jack is navigating.  On first glance I thought the cover was a little busy but now I think it's a perfect representation of the atmosphere of the book itself; scribbled thoughts and abstract musings.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: K. Ancrum
Release Date: October 31st, 2017
Publisher: Imprint / Macmillan
Received: For Review


THE WICKER KING is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.

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.