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Pick this up and give it a go. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: At the present day, Nathan is missing. Below that lurks the secret of Jane's gift and how it relates to both Nathan's disappearance and Jane's future.

And then deeper still, simmering in the background is the complex alchemy of these relationships; Jane and Maddie and Nathan meshed together in friendship, jealousy, and attraction. I could never tell if the cynical way Jane views her value to Maddie and Nathan was realistic or not, and that tension as much as any other kept me reading for clues. This never comes across as the romance trope of a plain heroine who doesn't realize how beautiful she is, or only her true love sees her inner beauty. Rather, even on the written page Jane seems both muted and mesmerizing. Her narration is almost deadpan, but the circumstances of her story reveal very strong emotions.

I can't even say that I liked her, and certainly much of her actions aren't admirable in the typical "heart of gold" sense. She can be cruel, she feels the seduction of weilding power over another, and her attachment to Maddie and Nathan is almost smothering. At the halfway point I couldn't see any happily ever after for Jane, or even predict where this story's strange magic would take me, but I didn't need either of those things to keep me riveted to the page.

Jane manages to be magnetic and fascinating without being charming, she drew me into the mystery of her circumstances without being predictable, and the pathos of the story is certainly one of foreboding and dread without ever dipping into melodrama or horror. A captivating ghost story, a gothic to curl up around and savor, I enjoyed slowing down and immersing myself in this strange, dark world. As the story spirals further and further outside human experience, I found myself no less affected.

An "ever after" of silence and peace, is that happiness? Full review to follow. Aug 24, Madly Jane rated it it was amazing Shelves: I reread this book because of the way magic is organic, because it deals with a sort of goddess myth, Victorian magic and superstition, because of tone and mood, and some of the best details. I absolutely love Jane. I wish I had my first review, but I've deleted it. My conflict with the book on first read was the use of flashbacks, and how some of the story is a flashback within a flashback, and also I wanted The White Forest to be more dange Annotating for reading class, REREAD My conflict with the book on first read was the use of flashbacks, and how some of the story is a flashback within a flashback, and also I wanted The White Forest to be more dangerous than it was.

However, this book really holds up on a 5th or 6th reading. It's a fantastic moody, highly descriptive story of a young woman, coming of age in Victorian London area, and facing a great threat to her sanity and sense of identity. I adored the Fetches. I can't stop thinking about them. The whole mythological landscape of this novel haunts my imagination for reasons that are rooted in cunning magic, in the primitive feel of folklore and in the mastery of faith.

It's a love story, too. It's a book I wish I had written. It's difficult to rate this book, because I have such mixed feelings about it but I am going to give it my best rating because there is nothing like it out there. It's original, dark, Gothic, and highly descriptive in a way that makes you feel, see, smell, and taste the words. It's also a novel that I wanted to love, even as I read it and felt uncertain; I'd change my mind on the next page and say, "this is beautiful, disturbing and a great novel.

I do believe Adam McOmber has a great career ahead of him, and that many people are going to love this novel. It follows no tropes or patterns.

The White Forest by Adam McOmber

The White Forest is, in truth, an irresistible read that I could not put down. It's also a book that I come back to over and over. It lingers and morphs and not much fiction does that. Some of my notes: Jane is an incredible character. Wish the end had been different. Must make long review. I tend to keep reading bits and pieces of it because I do like it in so many ways. I know I will read it again. It's on my Keeper Shelf. It just defines labels. And maybe that is why people had a difficult time liking it as some of the reviews show. But I love it. I'll always love it. It doesn't need defending.

It's a little masterpiece of gothic that is gorgeously weird. View all 3 comments. Oct 05, Tahlia Newland rated it it was ok. Of course, all the noise is rather annoying which is why she likes the peaceful silence she hears from nature. After his return from the Crimea he becomes interested in a secretive cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic, and soon after disappears from the streets of Victorian London without a trace.

White Forest is essentially a mystery as Jane and her other friend, Madeline Lee try to work out what happened to Nathan while keeping their secrets from the famed Inspector Vidocq who is undertaking his own investigation. Readers wanting to confirm their beliefs about the dangerous nature of cults will find plenty to satisfy them here. This is probably just a poor use of the word. Though some of the images later in the book hint at a deeper understanding, they lack the clarity of context required for us to make sense of them.

There may well be some Pagan deity called the Lady of the Flowers, and perhaps the imagery used belongs in that context, but it still needs to be woven into a contemporary novel in such a way as to make sense. Jane is dour and dull, Madeline is duplicitous and shallow, and Nathan manipulative. My favourite character was Pascal. His sweet innocence and loyalty was refreshing. The overall mood was also too dark for my taste, and an end that could have had an uplifting nature was as dour as the main character herself.

Where I got the book: A word about my rating: In many respects, I dislike the star rating system for books. The White Forest gets four stars because while I had serious issues with some aspects of it, to be fair as a reviewer I have to give the writer credit for the other elements. Jane leads an isolated life on Hampstead Heath, a wild area of north London. Since the death of her mother when Jane was six, Jane has experienced inanimate objects as animate beings that give off sound, colors, lights, even memories.

She can transfer the sensations she feels to other people by touch, and mute their effect on herself by remaining grounded in the natural world notably by wearing flowers tied to her wrist. When Nathan disappears into a cult society to which his search for the Empyrean has led him, Maddy and Jane work to bring him back, both together and in competition.

What I liked about the novel: To begin with, it was well-written—good dialogue, vivid descriptions, nice pacing and so on. And the writing had depth to it; I found myself caught up in wondering if Jane was a reliable narrator or a deluded hysteric bring on the hysterical Victorian ladies! And there was the more overt theme of the imbalance of the male power of technology with the female power of the natural world; all very interesting and thought-provoking, although I struggled to find a structure to the narrative that would make it clear what the author thought about these matters.

Possibly—since this is a debut novel—the inchoate impression I received is due to the author grasping for half-formed themes that will be worked out in later writings. Where I had issues: Early on in this novel I began to wonder which decade of the Victorian era we were in. In my own writing I like to invent locations, and I love the world-building elements in the fantasy sub-genres when done right. I was tickled to death, for example, when in Abraham Lincoln: The preposterousness of the premise made it obvious that the filmmakers had little regard for the historical record and therefore I could sit back and enjoy the movie without a care in the world about accuracy although others do care, and the list of goofs for this movie on IMDb makes entertaining reading.

It began, as I said above, because I started to wonder when, exactly, this story was unfolding. Chapter 1 is subheaded, unhelpfully or is it teasingly? So what was niggling at me? Then I realized that Nathan had just returned from the Crimean War, dating the novel to around —and that pretty much all other checkable references were therefore anachronistic see my updates for details. Sherlock Holmes, Zombie Sleuth might be a worthy contribution to the recent spate of mashups aimed at bored kids who despise history and literature anyway.

But I digress, and heaven knows this review is long enough without the digressions. At some point while I was merrily pointing out the anachronisms on Goodreads the author contacted me and cheerfully admitted that he was playing with the historical record.

Paperback Editions

And yes, I knew going in that this was supposed to be a Gothic fantasy novel. In Gothic writings fantasy predominates over reality, the strange over the commonplace, and the supernatural over the natural, with one definite auctorial intent: And indeed it first came to my attention because it was being added to the lists of HF readers.

While writing this review I followed a Facebook thread about how casual i. So when a writer like McOmber begins to play around with the historical timeline, some readers may be incensed. For many of the HF readers I know, anachronisms are a dealbreaker. So my next thought is, can the same be said of the readers of literary fiction? I find myself wondering if the new cover and the fact that it has a reading group guide is an attempt to push the novel in that direction. Some writers decide they are going to write in a specific genre, learn the rules of that genre thoroughly and then apply them rigorously.

I have a great deal of time for writers who write what they want to, and damn the consequences. I will therefore be looking out for what McOmber does next. View all 5 comments. Well, if you compare any author to Sarah Waters , I'll be pawing at your door. View all 22 comments. Sep 12, Lou rated it it was amazing Shelves: The author has crafted together a winner of a story on many levels.

There are big questions over the main pr The author has crafted together a winner of a story on many levels. There are big questions over the main protagonists supernatural and paranormal abilities and the missing of one man Nathan who one discovers is caught in a love triangle between two women, childhood friends. Jane needs to understand many things but amongst all the splendour and talk of other worlds something more dear and humble she needs to understand her one first love her mother and what legacy she left behind.

As the story travels down a road to an eventfully grande conclusion of discovery and truths you'll find yourself compelled and steeped in a sense of place and intrigue. This adventure made me think of the movie Stardust which was adapted from the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name. This was a great effort for a debut and displays a storytelling quality that has supernatural and history mixed together with some nice writing similar to the authors like Neil Gaiman and Robert McCammon.

As you walk with Jane you will enjoy all that the author brings to the table, step back into a Dickens like world with Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe as your guides. The three of us had forged our bond walking those houseless heights beneath the great marble skies watching storm-dark clouds cast shadows on the tall grass. We passed through forests of hawthorn and birch that rose above purple bogs and walked fields lush with wild iris and lavender.

Hampstead Heath was like a chapel, serene and godly, and I loved the feeling of the wind burningmy cheeks as it swept down over the hills. When I walked there, I felt the poetry of Keats and Coleridge clinging to its winding paths.


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But such poetry was nothing compared to the presence of my friends. Our walks provided a sense of stability and comfort that I hadn't felt since before my mother died. When I was with Maddy and Nathan, I was no longer the lonesome girl lurking in shadows. Instead, I imagined I belonged. I could laugh and even felt that I might one day fall in love.

He possessed a kind of ethereal Saxon beauty, and when he entered a room, those present—no matter how they felt about him socially—paused to admire his stature. Nathan disliked the law and abhorred his fathers House of Lords. He was a free spirit who read poetry and, on more than one occasion, was found curled on a doorstep after a drunken night at the Silver Home. But none who could make such a list knew the true Nathan Ashe that Maddy and I came to know.

He was filled with the sort of fret and despair that needed tending. At the same time, he acted as though we were his equals, taking us on adventures most would have considered too dangerous for young women. We were the ones who truly loved him, and yet we too were left without him.

As soon as it touched my skin, I experienced the flash of an image that was quite distinct and unlike anything I'd ever perceived from an object before. What I saw appeared to be a stage set populated by painted trees, and above the trees was a black sky decorated with odd bits of glass that were meant to look like stars. The entire false forest was contained within some type of stone chamber, reminiscent of a catacomb.

It was so dark there that I could barely see, and the acrid smell of paint that had been used to create the illusion of trees filled my lungs. I had a sense that what I was seeing was an actual place, somewhere in London Then I heard the distant sound of a trumpet, the sort of horn that signaled the opening of a hunt. It seemed an endless and transparent mirage, drifting over the park's grassy field, blazing in the sun.

It had opened its doors in May as a showplace for the stunning achievements of Victorias empire, and though I hadn't dared to pay a visit as most of London had, I'd read numerous reports. The palace was a marvel of human invention, composed entirely of glass—some three hundred thousand panes, suspended across a scant metal skeleton that encompassed a great expanse of the park. Many viewers attested that being inside the structure was initially disturbing.

The structure produced a dizzying sensation, as sunlight was amplified by the glass panes, and some said they feared being "crushed" by all that dazzling light. The queen herself visited the Crystal Palace, showing particular interest in the great aviary that was filled with fifteen hundred canaries. It was well known that Victoria was a lover of birds, and this particular display was said to provide a marvelous and disorienting rush of color and noise.

Dwarf stone walls circled cinder gardens. An exhaustive tangle of streets for which no map had ever been drawn, sprawled in all directions.


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  • The Roman soldiers had used the area to bury their dead, and in our time, it housed many of the city's stink industries glue factories, vinegar makers, tanneries, and the like. A brown haze drifted across over the cupolas and towers, nearly obscuring the skeletal dome of the pleasure garden called the Temple of the Lamb, beneath which we would find Ariston Days Theater of Provocation. Aug 06, Evie rated it it was amazing Shelves: 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.

    Adam McOmber ‘The White Forest’ Review

    It happens not long after Nathan 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. 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.

    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. It's a real treat for fans of anything dark, sinister, eerie and gothic. I love historical fantasy that doesn't have vampires, zombies, and werewolves and The White Forest was a perfect example of historical fantasy done right.

    We get the feel of the time period, but with an added mystical atmosphere. The specific date the story takes place in is never mentioned, but it takes place after the Crimean War. The story revolves around Jane Silverlake, who has a gift, a gift I don't want to even begin to explain because I'll just ruin it.

    Jane is friends with Maddy and Na I love historical fantasy that doesn't have vampires, zombies, and werewolves and The White Forest was a perfect example of historical fantasy done right. Jane is friends with Maddy and Nathan, forming a sort of trio. When Nathan comes back from the war, he's a different man, and soon joins a cult which causes him to fall farther and farther away from his old life. One day, Nathan goes missing, and Jane must learn everything there is about her gift if she wants to help bring him back. The descriptions of a dark and gritty Victorian London are told with such flowing prose.

    I got lost in the words and the pages just flew by. The characters were just great — well written and deep, even the side characters. The villain of the story, Ariston Day, the leader of the cult, was such a perfect villain. He was a villain who used his words to brainwash people, and brilliantly enough, we only see him for about two scenes, but by the time we meet him, we've already formed a determined opinion of him. His reputation proceeded him, so to speak.

    Very unusual, but in a good way. Jun 12, Sanaa rated it it was amazing Shelves: I absolutely lived the writing, its originality, the dark Gothic tone, the Victorian and slightly steampunk setting, the vivid somewhat dense descriptions, the imperfect flawed and at times cruel characters. Then again, this left me hungry for something more, to be further convinced Regardless I loved this and would give it 4. It was exactly the kind of book I like to read. I've decided this deserv [5 Stars] I need more time to formulate my opinion about this book. I've decided this deserves a 5 star rating from me.

    I had a few issues with it, yes, but I loved the experience of reading the White Forest. It reminded me in a way of Angela Carter, and this book resonated with me in some way, in a way which negates my problems with the book and firmly places it with a 5 star rating.


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    Simply put, I loved reading this book. This new novel soon to be released is both a beautifully written and compulsively readable literary thriller. McOmber writes with an enviable imagination and the sense of foreboding, mystery and eroticism throughout - all are handled with expertise. Sep 07, manda rated it liked it Shelves: Our tale starts off on a mysterious air, quite normal enough, in a Victorian England. The imagery and mood built by the narrative is both vivid and captivating, promising us with a mystery to unravel; a crime to solve, secrets to unveil.

    And then, towards the end of the novel, the world of Jane Silverlake took a tumble into a rabbit hole of her own - spiraling deeper and deeper Bizarre, is one word I would use to describe The White Forest by Adam McOmber ; but not necessarily is that a bad thing. And then, towards the end of the novel, the world of Jane Silverlake took a tumble into a rabbit hole of her own - spiraling deeper and deeper until we find ourselves in a world both abstract and physical, both tangible and nonsensical.

    Our Victorian England was gone, our historical fiction turned madly into a perplexing novel of fantasy. What is it, exactly, that she can do, and why does she have it? Who is this Lady of Flowers who continuously makes a cameo every now and then, and where does she fit, in the greater scheme of things? Most of what prevented me from giving this a higher rating , was how we knew from early on what had happened to Nathan Ashe. Perhaps the real question was how it happened to him in the first place.

    But when our heroine, Jane Silverlake spent so much time stuck on the first question, it does get tiring after a while. I despise sudden loss of memory used as an excuse to drag a mystery further; used as justification for keeping important facts from us readers. This trope , to my frustration, has also been used in other novels , which I would otherwise have enjoyed far more without.

    Luckily, my quarrels end there. Although the Fetches' sudden lapse in human decency was a little odd, I find charismatic leaders, especially cult leaders, often know just the right buttons to push. That, along with a mixture of deindividuation, may serve as a plausible - if a little strained - explanation for the sudden change in his followers' mindsets. And the details of the cult made it intriguing, to say the least.

    It added a touch of perceptible danger to our otherwise imagined horrors, and for a moment we question the possibility of Nathan's misfortune being of a more mundane, murder-mystery nature, or the event of a satanistic ritual. As far as characters go, I have to say that Jane Silverlake is a better person than I would ever be.

    If I had been in her position -- if I had the boy I've grown to love break my heart, or see what my own best friend has done, I would have washed my hands clean of them. If my own dearest friend said to me the awful things Maddy, in her fit, said to Jane -- and seeing how the reality fits perfectly into her words -- I would have let her wallow in her own grief and that would be the end of that. I certainly would have not gone through the pains of helping either one of them, in the end. The truth of the matter is, Jane had the misfortune of having terrible friends.

    It was painfully clear Nathan saw her as something different ; something extraordinary in his otherwise mundane life. It was clear that he viewed her as some form of entertainment. And as for Maddy. Well, all I can say is, you're not really friends if the reason you're together is the lack of options. I am utterly confused, in the end, that Jane's humanity is what ultimately pushes her to save everyone. A humanity that she's learnt through her friendship , apparently. What sort of friendship is that?

    It certainly wouldn't have taught me anything other than the bitter cruelty of human nature. I liked how Jane grew stronger along with her journey. Even though I didn't quite enjoy the turn the novel took, as it dove into a realm of fantasy, I was drawn into the tale -- the landscape of Hampstead Heath, the furtive jealousy and rivalry between supposed best friends.

    All in all it was a pleasant and quick read, one I recommend for fans of a Victorian setting and a touch of the surreal. Originally reviewed on A Reader of Fictions. The White Forest was not what I was expecting at all. Perhaps I should have been, but I tend not to read blurbs at all or not closely, because they sometimes contain spoilers. Anyway, I thought this was going to be a gorgeous novel of historical fiction, and it certainly starts out that way.

    Then it changes into fantasy horror, so be prepared for that. The writing of The White Forest is lush, dark and gothic. I very much appreciate McOmber's style and use of language, even when the story went down paths I wasn't entirely thrilled about. Though the book does not have much action, the story moves along at a nice steady pace, jumping from the present to the past, as we unravel the mystery of what happened to Nathan Ashe. The plot has sudden twists leading to an unanticipated conclusion. Adam McOmber will keep you up nights with this eerie tale that grafts mystery to myth. A spooky and original novel.

    Adam McOmber's imagery is so visceral and strangely real, and his story so inventive; a plain old narrative is hard enough to pull off on its own, but creating a whole new world within the reality of Victorian England? The White Forest is much more than a novel: I wish I had written it myself. Tell us what you like, so we can send you books you'll love.

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