Book Review – The White Forest

by Rob Caprilozzi

Written by: Adam McOmber
Published by: Touchstone Paperback/Simon & Schuster
Publish date: July 9, 2013

Review by: Alicia Banks

Synopsis: 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. Nathan’s fascination with Jane compels him to understand her odd talent—sparking interest in a secretive cult led by Ariston Day.

Suddenly Nathan disappears from the streets of Victorian London. In order to save everything she must infiltrate Ariston Day’s mysterious secret society, leading Jane to a place beyond her wildest imaginings that will reveal vast reserves of power and strength within her she never dreamed she possessed.

Our thoughts: I'll admit when I first read the blurb about THE WHITE FOREST, I kinda said, "Eh." I wasn't really sure the story would hold my interest, but before I turned down the opportunity to read it, I hopped onto to read a little more about the book and some of the reviews. I'm glad I did my research because suddenly the story sounded much more intriguing. I decided to give it a go, hoping my initial reaction to the storyline would be way off.

I'm happy to say I was totally wrong.

THE WHITE FOREST is a stunning novel. Yes, I said stunning. McOmber has written a beautiful book set in England in the mid-1880s. I'll admit I am not a Victorian-age literature scholar, but I found McOmber's use of language to be accurate and quite elegant. The settings used in the novel– Hampstead Heath, The Crystal Palace, The White Forest itself, to name a few– are described in lovely detail. You can hear, see, smell, and feel all of these places while reading. It's not often a book can assault the senses in such a strange and wonderful way.

The strongest aspect of the book itself is its characters. McOmber admitted the book started with Jane, the main character and first-person narrator of the novel. He knew exactly who she was from the very beginning, and the book completely revolved around her. She is both strong and weak, fierce and meek, and I find her fascinating, to say the least. Both Madeline and Nathan are well developed as well, each with their own charms and apparent faults. The secondary characters– the parents of all three, Ariston Day, Anne, Pascal, Alexander, the rest of the Fetches, Mother Damnable, and Vidocq– are also developed well with their small appearances here and there, and they are all necessary and important to move the story along and help the development of the main three characters even more. McComber has a talent for showing the reader real human nature– not just the surface, but the real, deep-down-nitty-gritty qualities that exist in all of us. He's not afraid to show the ugly.

The plot unfolds slowly and methodically, and I appreciated that. Given the pieces of the puzzle a little at a time kept me both entertained and enthralled. I remember thinking, "What will we learn next?" but feeling that in such a way as to enjoy the suspense as opposed to becoming impatient with the pace of the story. The suspense added to the delight.

If you enjoy stories set in past times, full of supernatural elements and magic, with a little bit of mystery and love triangle thrown in for good measure, this is a story for you. It's JANE EYRE meets SHERLOCK HOMES meets H.P. LOVECRAFT.

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