Eloise F. (Poway, CA)
A disappointing read
I struggled to finish this and did, but only so I could complete my review. At first I enjoyed the writing and depiction of the era. Unfortunately the plot was tedious and ultimately incomprehensible. I'd like to see the author tell a story that is not so dark and takes advantage of his abilities. But he did not do so here.
Mark O. (Wenatchee, WA)
A dark and otherworldly Dickens
I’ve wondered why Victorian England seems such a natural setting for fictional explorations of the darker and less traveled parts of our minds. The “White Forest” is a strong addition to this tradition, with the welcome haunts: old manor house on the moors, slums of London, madness and decadence). There is a fascinating and chilling cosmology, something truly “other.” This is preeminently a coming-of-age story, of three young adults and the bonding that can be more than friendship. The plot gallops along at horse-drawn carriage pace but there are lyrical speed-bumps, nicely written prose that many readers will stop to underline or highlight.
Joyce W. (Rochester, MN)
Potential never realized
This writer has a lot of potential. The White Forest is very readable; the setting is great. I could tell it wasn't my style of book but wanted to give it a chance. The ending was really disappointing. Nothing was really explained, and you really didn't know what happened to everyone. Too mystical for me.
Esther L. (Newtown, Pa)
A Dark and Gothic Tale
An editor for Simon and Schuster included a letter in the pre publication copy of The White Forest in which she lamented the fact that she lost out on the chance to publish Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. She stated that she would never love another book in quite the same way but then The White Forest hit her desk. You can't compare the two book at all. The Night Circus was a magical, imaginative, romantic and beautifully descriptive novel. I found The White Forest as cold and stone like as the all white Empyrean world imagined by the author. This dark and gothic tale kept my interest and I liked it but recommended that my book club read The Night Circus, a book I really loved.
Glenn H. (Las Vegas, NV)
Feeling let down
After reading the first couple pages of this book I felt a strong connection to the story setting, the characters and the writer's style but mid way through I lost that link and just felt that I was headed toward disappointment - mainly because the story line seemed to explode into a complex and abstract realm which made me feel that there was no way that this size book and style of writing could contain it, fully explore it and lead to a reasonable and satisfying end. Sadly my 'mid way' feelings turned out to be true.
Judy (Marysville, OH)
Not the book for me
I read all of The White Forest, hoping that it would redeem itself, because it is well written. It did not. The characters, the plot, the premise did not inspire a "willing suspension of disbelief," without which a story simply remains implausible. For example, I did not believe in the characters or care about them: The narrator, Jane, has a mean streak. She is set up in the book as a saint or saviour figure. Gradually, she discovers her identity and fulfills her destiny as a powerful goddess. Her "friends" Maddy and Nathan are untrustworthy and the three use each other for their own means. The villain, Ariston Day, wants to free London from corruption by breaking down the boundaries between human-constructed reality and an Empyrean level of nothingness (the white forest of the title), from which life originated. But instead, in the effort, he corrupts and destroys London's finest young men. Jane, aka the Red Goddess, prevails against Day in preserving the essential boundaries that protect human life. None of this was compelling. The story remained implausible and the characters indifferent. This book is just not my cup of tea.
Christine B. (St. Paul, MN)
The White Forest
I found this book to be almost ridiculous. The protagonist has the unusual ability to see "souls" in inanimate objects and transfer this ability to others with her touch. She was born inside a tree if this sort of clarifies how silly the book is. There is a godlessness to this story that is quite upsetting. I would not recommend this book.