I would recommend this book for ages 14 and up.
‘I didn’t want you to come here.’ So says the note that the boy Edmund Hooper passes to Charles Kingshaw upon his arrival at Warings. But, young Kingshaw and his mother have come to live with Hooper and his father in the ugly, isolated Victorian house for good. (Goodreads)
I read and annotated this book last year in my AP English class, and unlike many of my classmates, I enjoyed this book. I’m The King of The Castle is in no way a happy book, but it is the first book about bullying and suicide that I have read that is completely realistic. This book covers themes like bullying, suicide, the effect divorce has on young children, child insanity, and bipolar disorder. The problems in this book start when a man named Mr. Hooper becomes so lonely after the death of his wife that he decides to take out a personal ad in the newspaper looking for a woman with a boy around, his son’s age to come live with them. Mr. Hooper is simply looking to remarry, and in the process, find a friend for his son, Hooper. Unfortunately, Hooper sees it as his dad trying to replace him and Hooper decides to do anything in his power to get the new family out. Kingshaw is the son of the woman who agrees to try out living with Mr. Hooper, and this is where the bullying begins. Having to watch Kingshaw go from decently happy to a depressed, terrified, and suicidal ten year old boy is devastating. Even more upsetting is how Hooper doesn’t believe he is doing anything wrong as he continues to torture Kingshaw. Hooper just wants his dad back to himself.
The setting and characters in this book were extremely interesting, The mansion that the book took place in was extremely secluded from the rest of the world. This caused the book to have only around six characters and because of this, the book felt more dark and the feeling while reading it felt more dismal and hopeless. As I read this story, I began to feel more like Kingshaw did in the sense that there would never be anyone around to help him and that this was only going to end badly.
It is very difficult to rate a book that focuses on topics that tend to be slightly taboo. Saying that this book was enjoyable to read is not true, but the author did an amazing job being honest about everything she wrote. This is the first book like this that I have read that was not in some way romanticized. I’m The King of The Castle is definitely a book that I have thought about regularly since I read it last year and I think that it is a book everyone should read.
Four Out of Five Stars
This book had heavy cursing, heavy violence, and mild romance.
Other Notables with spoilers: A ten year old boy commits suicide while the book is in his perspective. There is one fairly short chapter in Mr. Hooper’s perspective which shows the readers that he has become obsessed with romance and sex.