Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: The White Forest by Adam McOmber

Title: The White Forest
Author: Adam McOmber
Publisher: Touchstone
Hardcover: 320 pages
Expected Publication Date: 11 September 2012
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father at a crumbling family estate on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Jane has a secret—an unexplainable gift that allows her to see the souls of manmade objects—and this talent isolates her from the outside world. Her greatest joy is wandering the wild heath with her neighbors, Madeline and Nathan. But as the friends come of age, their idyll is shattered by the feelings both girls develop for Nathan, and by Nathan’s interest in a cult led by Ariston Day, a charismatic mystic popular with London's elite. Day encourages his followers to explore dream manipulation, with the goal of discovering a new virtual reality, a place he calls the Empyrean.      
A year later, Nathan has vanished, and the famed Inspector Vidocq arrives in London to untangle the events that led up to Nathan’s disappearance. As a sinister truth emerges, Jane realizes she must discover the origins of her talent and use it to find Nathan herself, before it’s too late.    

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Jane is a girl who can hear and see the souls of man-made objects. Nature soothes her, and she sometimes gets visions of a woman covered in flowers and a still, white forest. Her mother had similar abilities, but she died when Jane was young and can't tell Jane anything about what she is. An extreme introvert, when Jane meets a girl named Maddy and a boy named Nathan, she finally comes out of her shell a little. Upon revealing her powers to them, Nathan becomes obsessed. Eventually, he goes missing, setting off a series of events that leads Jane to discover her true power.

I really liked the concept of this novel and enjoyed reading it. Some of it's a little confusing, because it goes back and forth from past to present, but I loved this way of revealing the story. Though the beginning was incredibly slow, the end almost makes up for it. I do think some of the beginning stuff could have been condensed. Most of it needs to be there, since the relationships and character development are so important, but it did seem to drag along for awhile. I wish that Jane's gift could have been explored more. McOmber's level of detail is so great that the novel really came to life, but I don't think that extended to Jane's gift. It's hard to describe it thoroughly when Jane, the girl whose eyes we're looking through, doesn't understand it herself, but I wanted more.

While it's a strange concept to grasp, the mythology is perfect. I love that we get to see it in bits and pieces until it finally comes together through Nathan's diary entries. And it's great to see Jane becoming stronger and stronger as she learns what she is.

The White Forest doesn't have a particularly happy ending, so I know that many will be upset at that, but no other ending was realistically possible, in my opinion. It completely fit the tone of the novel. I liked how everything came together and how Jane finally realized who she was. For those who are squeamish, I would skim through when they're in the white forest, since it gets very violent and bloody.

For those who like Gothic and like their books to be on the weird side, this one's for you. It's beautiful and horrifyingly strange. In other words: a great read.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.*