The White Forest

The White Forest

3.25 (1,539 ratings by Goodreads)
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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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Product details

  • Hardback | 303 pages
  • 165 x 236 x 28mm | 517g
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 1451664257
  • 9781451664256
  • 908,153

Review quote

"What other novelist could take a Victorian gothic setting, the most obscure elements of medieval cosmology, a sinister secret society, and an old-fashioned love triangle to produce, in tautly elegant prose, something so delightful and utterly unique? "The White Forest" is much more than a novel: it is a magic lantern, casting dark and flickering pictures from other worlds. I wish I had written it myself."--Camille DeAngelis, author of Petty Magic and Mary Modern
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About Adam McOmber

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
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Rating details

1,539 ratings
3.25 out of 5 stars
5 18% (281)
4 22% (343)
3 34% (525)
2 17% (267)
1 8% (123)

Our customer reviews

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) ---------------- Quotes "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)show more
by Denee
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