January 8, 2013

The White Forest by Adam McOmber

"I began to fancy myself a new breed of detective, piecing together a world that no one else could see........Every room was breathing and alive, and I was an explorer in this alien world......I heard their mutterings, saw their colors, felt their tingling vibrations."

Jane Silverlake has a secret- an inexplicable gift that allows her to see the souls of man-made objects.  Jane doesn't quite understand everything about this talent.  Her friend, Madeline, is weary of it, while her friend, Nathan, is entranced by it.  He encourages her to embrace her strange gift, although Jane would rather just wander through the heath with her two friends.  As the three come of age, however, Nathan gets involved in a cult led by the charismatic Ariston Day.  One day, Nathan disappears and as Jane and Madeline search for what happened to their beloved friend and wrestle with the feelings each of them has developed for him, Jane has to figure out what is behind her talents and use them to help Nathan.

I love the setting of Victorian London for this historical fantasy.  I love the Victorian era and it lends itself so beautifully to tales of the supernatural and fantastical.  McOmber possesses a brilliant command of  19th-century language, which, along with the vivid descriptions, transports the reader into the 1800s with the ease and sophistication of a well-seasoned writer.  

The story builds slowly and it takes some time before McOmber establishes the background and the relationships between Jane, Madeline, and Nathan.  Toward the middle of the book, the story suddenly takes a jarring turn as Jane begins to realize the potential of her gift.  After that, it just gets stranger.  I am typically an enthusiast when it comes to unexpected twists and turns in a story- if it is done right.  I felt that the twists and turns in The White Forest were in disaccord with the pace and expectations set forth in the first half of the story.  It was as if the first half of the book and the second half of the book were written by two separate people.  I felt like I was riding in a car where the ride was smooth and flowing, only to find the driver jamming on the brakes, abruptly turning the car, and traveling a new path- over and over.  

I still thought it was a beautifully-written novel, intriguing characters, and a fresh plot idea.  I think McOmber will prove to be a formidable and impressive author.

This book was sent to me for review by the author and publisher.


  1. Not sure this is for me - historical and fantasy don't sound like they go together to me.

  2. Really interesting premise, but even in the summary the male character joining a cult seemed a really odd fit to me.

  3. It is more of a secret society than a religious cult I guess you could say. But I still found it to be stretching it. I guess he switched the damsel in distress theme on its head.

  4. He almost pulls it off, but not quite. He sets the stage for all of it very well, but the last half just blew it for me, unfortunately. It just got too choppy.


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