The Kings of Nowhere is the currently Patreon exclusive sequel to The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews, an author and a book that own my entire heart. They stole it, if you must.
This book was as close as you can get to unputdownable for a book that was published a few chapters at a time each Friday. It takes place soon after the events of The Boy Who Steals Houses and is dual narrated by Avery Lou and Jeremy De Lainey, showing Avery’s transition from a life of burglary and car theft to a life of homey chaos in the butter-yellow house. However, he feels like he’s drowning without Sam and is determined to sabotage his time with his new family and get locked up with his brother instead.
I’m scrolling through the comments I left on each chapter while I’m writing this review and it’s just an endless monologue of me crying into my keyboard and wishing there was a physical copy to dramatically hold against my heart. Were the metaphorical tears because this book was particularly sad? Not really. They were because a few scenes or lines of dialogue or internal monologue felt like they were written directly about me, from Jeremy’s anxiety spirals to Avery’s fear of not being wanted. Drews has an incredible talent for metaphors and capturing abstract emotions and finding the perfect words to describe something that usually feels so indescribable.
I want to take a moment to talk specifically about the character who owns my entire heart and played a larger role in this book than in the first: Jeremy De Lainey. Jeremy’s character felt like a slow burn in a sense: we were introduced to him in the first book and had an idea of his personality, but his narration added a new perspective, especially as the new side to him unfurls little by little with each chapter. And every single one of those chapters was a personal attack and a stab in my chest. I won’t elaborate further because I don’t want to lean into spoiler territory, but this boy needs a hug.
I made this point in my review for the first book, but it’s so overwhelmingly lovely for me to read about good sibling relationships and healthy family dynamics that can still have drama without turning bad. The De Lainey’s consistently provide hope and moments of light throughout the darkness, and still love each other despite the fractures that form. All of the De Lainey’s feel like fully fleshed out characters and have distinct personalities, something that is important to note as there are so many of them. The family has an incredible sense of loyalty and protectiveness to each other and the people that they’ve decided to keep.
I’ll conclude this review with a point that drew me back to read the second book in the series: the autism representation. The representation is less brutal than in the first book: we’re in Avery’s head now so we can see his entire thought process, even if we don’t necessarily understand it. There are still moments where it’s disturbing and frustrating, but Avery’s support system is such a beacon of hope and there isn’t a moment where anyone tries to ‘fix’ him or give up on him.
I’m sad that this book came to an end as the chapters being released became the highlight of my week, but I’m so proud and in awe of what the author has achieved with this project as someone who has been following their social media and writing journey for longer than I can remember. It was an honour to join that journey for a moment, and it was an honour to read a book that dealt with sensitive issues with such care that you can tell this book is part of the author’s heart.