Hello friends, it’s Vera here today, and I brought you another addition to my “ranking and reviewing” series: this time, I’m going to be ranking K. Ancrum’s novels. 📚 For years, I’ve been hearing nothing but praise for Ancrum’s works, so I was excited (and a bit nervous) to jump into her stories. During the past couple of months, I read three of Ancrum’s novels (and a novella), and I can’t wait to share my opinion of these with you today!
You can click on the authors’ names if you want to see my other ranking posts:
Alice Oseman, Fredrik Backman, Emma Mills, K.J. Charles and finally, he is a director, not an author, but I also ranked Mike Flanagan works.
#3: The Weight of the Stars
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And it’s up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .
The Weight of the Stars was the first book I read by K. Ancrum, and one I was incredibly excited about as I’ve heard fantastic things about it from every direction, including from Sabrina. I’m really happy to report that this book lived up to my expectations, at least for the most part. Immediately upon starting it, I became invested in the characters, in particular in the main character, Ryann. She cared so deeply about her friends – a group of misfits who were gathered together by Ryann – and her family, and she was very much the mom-friend of the group. At the same time, it was obvious how much the others cared about her too and how they have built a beautiful found family together.
Enter Alexandria, a girl that is not interested in making friends, especially after Ryann and her friends accidentally cause Alexandria to get hurt. One of my favorite parts of the book was seeing Alexandria’s determination to keep her distance from everyone slowly crumble as she got to know Ryann and the rest of the gang. Speaking of Ryann and Alexandria – anyone who enjoys slow-burn romance should give The Weight of the Stars a chance, as Ancrum did a fantastic job with this trope.
In the end, The Weight of the Stars was close to being a five-star read, but due to a few minor issues I had – e.g. I wanted the supporting cast to feel more fleshed out.. some of them kind of blended together for me – I decided to give it four stars. Still a very strong book and one I’d recommend especially to those of you who enjoy quieter YA novels.
On Wendy Darling’s first night in Chicago, a boy called Peter appears at her window. He’s dizzying, captivating, beautiful—so she agrees to join him for a night on the town.
Wendy thinks they’re heading to a party, but instead they’re soon running in the city’s underground. She makes friends—a punk girl named Tinkerbelle and the lost boys Peter watches over. And she makes enemies—the terrifying Detective Hook, and maybe Peter himself, as his sinister secrets start coming to light. Can Wendy find the courage to survive this night—and make sure everyone else does, too?
Out of the books K. Ancrum has written, Darling was the one I was the most excited about reading. Going into the novel, all I knew was that it’s a Peter Pan retelling with a dark twist, hence I believed it would have at least some fantasy elements. Boy, was I wrong. Darling, while definitely a Peter Pan retelling, is a contemporary mystery-thriller, and in my opinion, it has no fantasy elements. Having said that, I understand why some people have shelved it as fantasy on goodreads, as multiple parts of the novel have a fever dream, unreal quality to them which would be fitting for a fantasy.
This being my third novel by Ancrum, I feel like I can now say that for me, the best part of her novels are her characters. They feel real and complex, and I especially love how well-written the relationships are between them. In Darling, it was a delight to see Wendy get to know the kids and form a friendship with them. The way they were so protective of each other – especially of Wendy, who found herself in a situation she had no idea about – made my heart melt.
The plot, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing for me. From the reviews, I expected the story to be intense and exciting all through, but sadly, I wasn’t as invested as I thought I would be. Having said that, I think this might be a personal issue – the fever-dream quality of the novel didn’t work for me, which took away some of my enjoyment. All of that said, I found the twist to be chilling, and I did get a lot of enjoyment out of this novel and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in it.
The Wicker King
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.
Similarly to Darling, The Wicker King has a sort of unreal, fever-dream-like quality to it, but in this case, it was very suitable to the story. I loved the way Ancrum mixed Jack’s hallucinations and the coming of age plot together, and I was fully invested in the story all through.
I know I’m just repeating myself at this point, but my favorite part of the novel was its cast of characters, especially August and Jack. They – as well as the supporting cast – felt incredibly fleshed out, which helped me get invested in their story. Given that The Wicker King deals with the topic of parental abandonment / absent parents, it wasn’t an easy read, but despite that, it’s my favorite book by K. Ancrum.
After I finished The Wicker King, I picked up The Legend of the Golden Raven, a companion novella which, while not as good as the novel, was still great and comes highly recommended from me.
After finishing these three novels, I’m officially a fan of K. Ancrum. As mentioned in my reviews, I’m truly impressed by her ability to create realistic, complex characters that I couldn’t help but love and root for. Something that makes Ancrum an exciting author for me is that her books are wildly different in terms of the stories they tell. I’m not sure what her next project will be, but something I’m certain of is that I’m going to be so ready to read it when it’s released.
Have you read anything by K. Ancrum? What did you think of it? If you’ve read multiple books by her, which one was your favorite?