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A Gothic Romance!
I loved the character of Jane Silverlake and was fascinated by her strange powers. She is, at turns, sympathetic and frightening. Her relationship with Maddy and Nathan was equally interesting. Adam McOmber's depiction of Victorian London was just slightly to the left of reality...wonderfully strange and engrossing.
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.
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.
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.
Very well done
Don't usually take the time to write reviews, but was very impressed with this novel. Hard to believe this is a first effort. The language and the detail are excellent. Some of the reviews here have given details of the plot away, which I think is a shame. McOmber creates a creepy atmosphere that did make this book a page turner for me. Highly recommend!
A Wonderful Read
The White Forest is a wonderful fantasy about a young woman who lives in the nineteenth century and has a secret power which she has lived in fear of sharing with anyone. I was moved my Jane Silverlake and her plight. I also thought the language of the book was beautiful. The story was a page-turner for me.
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.