Title: The White Forest
Author: Adam McOmber
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Jane Silverlake is a young woman in Victorian England who is frantic about the disappearance of her close friend, Nathan. Jane shared her darkest secret with Nathan—her ability to see the strange souls of objects—but since Nathan became involved in a mysterious cult led by a man named Ariston Day, nothing has been the same. Now, with Nathan’s disappearance, Jane must discover the truth behind this cult, as well as how it relates to her powers.
At the beginning of The White Forest, the novel appears to be a gothic historical novel, filled to the brim with atmosphere and mystery. Jane’s an engaging character, though her powers and her plain appearance have made her unsure of herself. She rejoices when she meets Nathan and Madeline, a neighbor, because it gives her people to confide in and be close to. She can unburden herself to them; only later does she realize that appearance aren’t what they seem and she might not be able to trust the people she thought were her closest friends.
The White Forest moves slowly at first as it builds its plots. McOmber’s use of language takes the reader back hundreds of years; it’s easy to become lost in his descriptions. It’s a thoughtful, contemplative novel, subtle rather than overt. It may take readers some time to fully engage with it, but it will inevitably draw the reader in.
It’s about halfway though The White Forest that the book starts to take a dark, strange turn. It slowly transforms from a historical gothic to a fantasy novel as Jane’s powers take center stage. The atmosphere and nature of the book are what appealed to me from the beginning, so this shift was incredibly jarring. Perhaps it was a case of mistaken expectations, but as the novel progressed, I had trouble following where it led just because the twists and turns were so strange. If you’re one who loves the unexpected and unbelievable in your reads, this part will likely appeal to you.
Despite my issues with The White Forest, I still enjoyed the book overall. McOmber created some vivid and memorable characters with Jane, Nathan, and Ariston Day. Additionally, his writing is beautiful; it’s worth picking up this book just to read his prose. If your book club enjoys off-the-beaten-path reads, this would make a good choice, as you’ll likely be itching to discuss Jane’s choices and the twists towards the end of the novel with others.