White Forest

A Novel

Adam McOmber
Simon & Schuster

Pub Date                Sep 11 2012


From Adam McOmber, whose short story collection This New and Poisonous Air earned glowing praise for its evocative prose, comes THE WHITE FOREST (Touchstone / Simon & Schuster; September 11, 2012; 978-1-4516-6425-6; $25.00), a remarkably original debut novel full of fantastical twists and dark turns which transports readers to a unique and memorable world.

Jane Silverlake is a lonely young woman with a strange, inexplicable gift – ever since her mother’s mysterious death she has been able to hear the souls of man-made objects. The frightening sounds from the artifacts in her father’s crumbling estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath plague her constantly, but she finds solace in the peaceful silence she hears from nature. Jane is happiest when exploring the heath with her only companions, Madeline Lee and Nathan Ashe.  Nathan’s fascination with the mysterious young woman compels him to try and understand Jane’s odd talent and sparks his intense interest in a secretive cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic. Competing for Nathan’s attention drives a wedge between Madeline and Jane; their cherished friendships evolve into a complicated love triangle.

Suddenly Nathan disappears from the streets of Victorian London without a trace. The famed Inspector Vidocq arrives to attempt to untangle the events that led to his disappearance; however, Jane quickly discovers she can trust no one. In order to save everything she holds dear, she must infiltrate Ariston Day’s mysterious secret society, discover the origins of her talent and use it to find Nathan herself, before it’s too late.  This search will lead Jane to a place beyond her wildest imaginings and will reveal vast reserves of power and strength within her she never dreamed she possessed.

Both hauntingly beautiful and rigorously researched, THE WHITE FOREST lures readers into a dark, mythic world full of  epic danger and surprises as McOmber’s compelling, distinctive heroine uncovers her true identity and is deeply empowered by that knowledge.

Adam McOmber teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago and is the associate editor of the literary magazine Hotel Amerika. Stories from his collection, This New and Poisonous Air, have been shortlisted for Best American Fantasy and nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in 2012. Visit AdamMcOmber.com.

My Review:

I need to say first that the cover to the book did not grab me at all.  It makes it look just another one of the rash of YA romance books out there.  But I took the gamble anyway.

As soon I as started this novel, I found the writing elgant and evocative.  The style weaves its way through the pages, as we start with an innocent opening of three friends sitting together.  The threads of evil start weaving themselves into this very quickly, with a lot of questions occurring.

The relationship between Nathan, Maddy and our main character Jane is an interesting one where, instead of being a friendship, there is almost a sense of necessity for each other.  They need each other in their world to fulfil some hole in their respective lives.  For Jane, it’s the lack of having friends.  For Maddy, it’s the need to have a real friend and for Nathan, it’s having those people that he can really talk to.  When Nathan goes missing, it sends the girls on their mission as they reveal secrets along the way.  The main secret is Jane’s gift, but I will leave you find that one out!

As we go on, these questions are answered, but in such a great way.  The book twists and turns on itself, neve leaving itself open for guessing the ending.  Thoroughly enjoyed it for that reason.

For a debut novel, this is pure magic.

My Rating:

4 girls out of 5