Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Horror Publication.Date September 11th 2012 Pages: 320 Published By: Touchstone | Website Adam McOmber |
The White Forest- Goodreads My review copy: A copy of the book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:
Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father in a crumbling family estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Jane has a secret—an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of man-made objects—and this talent isolates her from the outside world. Her greatest joy is wandering the wild heath with her neighbors, Madeline and Nathan.
But as the friends come of age, their idyll is shattered by the feelings both girls develop for Nathan, and by Nathan’s interest in a cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic popular with London’s elite. Day encourages his followers to explore dream manipulation with the goal of discovering a strange hidden world, a place he calls the Empyrean.
A year later, Nathan has vanished, and the famed Inspector Vidocq arrives in London to untangle the events that led up to Nathan’s disappearance. As a sinister truth emerges, Jane realizes she must discover the origins of her talent, and use it to find Nathan herself, before it’s too late.(Goodreads)
Just before he passed behind the hedge at the end of the drive, he turned to look back at Stoke Morrow and caught me spying on him. His shining eyes were so cruel, and before I could close the curtain, I saw the flash of an awful grin on his face. It was a grin that said he knew I'd come around. Sooner or later, I'd fall in line.
I was familiar with the realms of unnatural, for I myself was an unnatural. Not a monster in appearance; I looked like other young women, though perhaps not as primped and manicured. But I wasn't the same as other girls. My friends believed I was sick or gifted. Either way, I was unfortunate. Something entirely new upon the earth.
I had no lock that could be picked. If anything, I was the landscape behind the door, and even on that day in the ruin, I was still only beginning to comprehend my own flora and fauna..
Written in beautiful, 19th century-sque language, full of visually sumptuous sceneries and vividly depicted, memorable characters, The White Forest is a gorgeous gothic novel that combines elements of historical fiction, fantasy, horror and romance.
Set in Victorian England, this seductive and mysterious novel tells the story of one young man's sudden disappearance and the frantic search that ensues. The well-born son of Lord William Ashe, Nathan, goes missing. It happens not long after Nathan -- fascinated by the occult and metaphysical realities -- gets involved with the Temple of the Lamb. A daring and spirited soul, Nathan is always searching for answers, trying to look beyond what's instantly visible, experimenting, opening himself to the supernatural. Jane's extraordinary talents seem to have only deepened his curiosity for the otherwordly things. Now, Jane Silverlake, one of Nathan's closest friends, takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of his disappearance and - hopefully - get him back. Driven by love and guilt, armed with sharp intelligence and unnatural talents, Jane will not rest until she finds her dear friend. And soon she'll realize that she might be the only person in the world who can achieve that.
The story starts off rather slow and at first nothing suggests that The White Forest is anything more than a good historical novel. That, however, changes within the first few chapters, as we learn more about Jane and her unnatural abilities, as well as the mysterious Ariston Day and his dangerous cult. The tension -- while practically non-existent at the beginning - slowly but steadily builds up to an almost heart-stopping crescendo of panic at the end. At first, I had some trouble getting used to the snail-like pace of the story, but don't let that fool you! It is not a slow-paced novel all the way through. You'll be surprised at how fast you'll be flipping the pages in the second half of it!
The story flow is very gentle, almost dream-like. It allows the reader to fully immerse themselves in the plot and enjoy all the fabulously depicted visuals. I was amazed at how descriptive the prose was. Adam McOmber's writing style doesn't strike a single awkward note; it's sensual, mesmerizing, perceptive, and it engages not only your imagination, but also your senses. You can practically hear the soft rustling sound of leaves in the wind and you can feel the morning fog wrapping its cold, sticky arms around you. And, while the novel's pacing might feel just a tiny bit slow at the begging, the intensity of the gothic world will not make you bored or impatient.
Adam McOmber places heavy emphasis on atmosphere, using eerie settings and rich but concise prose to build suspense and a sense of disquiet in the reader. The plot is build around a mystery of Nathan's disappearance, pervaded by the feeling of threat and unease, enhanced by the unknown. Unexplainable things are happening all throughout the story. There are omens, ghostly apparitions, disturbing dream visions and seemingly prophetic phenomenons haunting the main character, Jane. The story is full of dramatic events, insightful flash-backs (that -- while very important to the plot -- more often than not raise more questions than they answer), and emotional, almost too-intimate-to-witness moments between the characters.
I loved the gentle but lustful prose. McOmber's vocabulary is rich and appropriate for the time period. It helps set the mood and creates an unforgettable, dark atmosphere that defines the gothic. The first-person narrative is dynamic, stimulating and engaging, and I found it nearly impossible to put the book down. At the same time, though, it is quite a demanding read that requires 100% of your attention. If you lose your focus, or try to skip a passage here and there, you'll find yourself going back to re-read certain parts in order to fully understand what's happening. This is, after all, an adult novel, and one that is not only thrilling and beautifully written, but also quite fascinating thanks to all the historical details it offers. I was especially excited to see the famous French detective, Vidocq, be part of the plot. His character added a realistic touch to the story, as well as a whole new different kind of threat to the well-being of our characters.
All in all, The White Forest is a fabulous, richly imagined read, and one that is bound to make a huge impression on readers. If you loved Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent, you'll definitely enjoy devouring this book, too. It's a real treat for fans of anything dark, sinister, eerie and gothic.
About author Adam McOmber:Adam McOmber’s novel, The White Forest, will be published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, in September 2012. He is also the author of a book of short stories, This New & Poisonous Air(BOA Editions, 2011). His work has appeared in Conjunctions, StoryQuarterly, The Fairy Tale Review, Third Coast, Quarterly West, The Greensboro Review and Arts and Letters . He has been nominated for two 2012 Pushcart Awards and received an AWP Intro Award. He lives in Chicago and teaches at Columbia College where he is also the associate editor of the literary magazine Hotel Amerika.
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About the AuthorEvie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and chatting with fellow book-worms.