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.
Sharon P. (Jacksonville, FL)
The White Forest
What a good beginning: Victorian London, dank and foggy ;a young woman slowly recognizing her possession of mysterious powers ; the sudden disappearance of a handsome young man after a seance ; an unseen parallel world. These add up to a fascinating, if creepy , story with a surprise ending. Settle into an old easy chair in front of the fire, with a candle of course, and enjoy.
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.
Catherine H. (Nashua, NH)
Writer with potential, can do better.
First, please remember this is a first book and give it a chance, I know I did and I was glad I finished the book. The story is of Jane and her "affliction", her only friends Madeline and Nathan in Victorian London "suburbs". After a slow and kind of painful beginning, I thought suspense builds up to the dramatic chapter in the "White Forest". I will let you discover the last chapter... Think of Moussourgsky and "Une nuit sur le Mont Chauve" while reading this book...
The White Forest
The word "forest" certainly is an appropriate word in the title, because for most of the book I felt like I was, indeed, stumbling around in a dark (or in this case, milk white) forest trying to follow some sort of mythical trail of crumbs.
It always pains me to have to admit that I did not really enjoy a book, especially when I know that someone labored lovingly to bring their vision to light ... but I just really did not enjoy this book. In fact, I finished it with an oddly unsettled, creepy, is that all there is sort of feeling, as if I had stepped an inch too far off the pathway and was now hopelessly stuck in the middle of that same Empyrean the characters in this book were struggling so hard to attain. Perhaps that is what the author was aiming for, to create that unsettled feeling in the reader ... if it was then he certainly succeeded on that level.
I did admire the craft that went into this book. The ability to reproduce that florid, over-blown verbiage that Victorian gothic novels had without requiring the endless wading through adjectives to get to the salient point was very well done, without being "overdone." Something I know can be very, very hard to do.
At times there were certain sentences that resonated, "She was a woman born of plant matter," that I have to admit did keep me reading, hoping that somehow the plot line would do something to live up to those intriguing lines, but in the end, the plot just sort of petered out into a less than satisfying denouement.