The White Forest

The White Forest

Book rating: 03 Hardback

By (author) Adam McOmber

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  • Publisher: Touchstone Books
  • Format: Hardback | 303 pages
  • Dimensions: 170mm x 236mm x 28mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 11 September 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 1451664257
  • ISBN 13: 9781451664256
  • Sales rank: 522,790

Product description

In this hauntingly original debut novel about a young woman whose peculiar abilities help her infiltrate a mysterious secret society, Adam McOmber uses fantastical twists and dark turns to create a fast-paced, unforgettable story. Young Jane Silverlake lives with her father in 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 man-made 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 strange hidden world, 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.

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Author information

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

Customer reviews

By Denee 14 Oct 2012 3

This book was, well, different. Something about it pulled me in and devoured my attention. With the sudden disappearance of Nathan Ashe, his close friends, Maddy and Jane are on a mission to find him. In the process they discover more about Nathan and his cult involvement that included Jane and her curious abilities. Jane can be very relatable as someone who is much the introvert, and sort of a third wheel. Her understanding of her past and her future becomes essential in truly discovering and utilizing her "talent."

"Only Nathan and Maddy knew my secret. I was familiar with realms of the unnatural, for I myself was an unnatural. Not a monster in appearance; I look like other young women, though perhaps not as primped and manicured. But I wasn't the same as other girls. My friends believed I was sick or gifted. Either way, I was unfortunate. Something entirely new upon the earth." (24)

For some reason I wanted to not like this book, and I felt like at any moment I would become uninterested, but for some other reason I was intrigued and wanted to know more about the book. The plot was different from anything I've ever read. With a wonderful writing style, I appreciated the author's research and translation of that era's conflicts, technology and refinement. It's Victorian allure and gothic paranormal attributes took my imagination on a grim flight to a place of mystery and transcendence.

First Line: "When nathan Ashe disappeared from the ruined streets of Southwark, I couldn't help but think the horror was, at least in my part, my own design." (1)

Last Line: "Yet the child herself was silent and lovely upon the earth." (303)

"When Nathan began to change, everything was thrown off balance. We lost our careful orbits and began to fall." (2)

"'The only way to cure a city,' he said, 'is to make it stop being a city.'
'And what do you expect that to look like?' Maddy asked.
'A garden,' Nathan said, 'untouched by human hands.'" (19)

"If my friend hadn't come into my life, perhaps I would have remained that melancholy creature who walked in shadows, keeping balance between earth and aether merely by existing. But being drawn out of Stoke Morrow had changed me. The flesh and blood part of me had grown strong. I'd learned to love the world, to love the people around me. I'd become almost human for a time." (292)

Review quote

""The White Forest" reminds me of what I love about H.P. Lovecraft. 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? Wow."--Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish