Friday, September 6, 2013

The White Forest by Adam McOmber

The White Forest takes place in Victorian England, among the wealthier members of society.  Three best friends—Jane (a lonely and odd girl), Madeline (the beautiful one), and Nathan (the son of a lord)—spend time together wandering the landscape.  Though Jane seems to be the plain one of the trio, she has a supernatural talent for being able to feel the essence of objects.  While this ability is treated as a parlor trick at first, it becomes a source of much fascination for Nathan.  And when Nathan disappears after returning from battle, it is Jane’s ability that connects her to him.
            Nathan developed an interest in the supernatural, and in particular, a fascination with a cult led by a man names Ariston Day.  This elusive leader is said to have lured many a young man into the deep underworld of England, promising enlightenment as well as visions of the future.  Jane seeks to figure out what happened to Nathan and to illuminate her place in the world as well.

            To say that this book is atmospheric is an understatement.  I felt pulled into the world that McOmber created, even as I felt confused by some of the elements within it.  Jane’s mother dies in her childhood, and she experiences visions related to her death.  The mysteries of the forest and the spookiness of the heath are well done.  Unfortunately, the visions Jane has of her mother are disquieting and difficult to understand.

            As Jane gets closer to Ariston Day, her visions and connection to the supernatural world increase.  And these visions get weirder and weirder as they connect her to the essential matter in the universe, as well as to an alternate vision of God.  The more these visions occurred, the less I liked the book.

            I felt sucked into a metaphysical world in which the building blocks of the universe were dismantled and reassembled into something appearing to be a new philosophy or religion.  There were women with flowers, a great forest, and some white apes.  While I understood what I was reading, I am not sure that I really got the symbolism or intent of this alternate world.  I just felt like I was in a psychedelic dream world.  And, ultimately, I did not care whether Jane or Nathan was able to remove themselves from it.

            In conclusion, I can say that The White Forest was a well-written, Gothic thriller that built an impressive alternate world.  Unfortunately, I did not enjoy my trip to this view of reality, and I can only hope that McOmber’s next work will live up to the promise that I felt in this one.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of this one and it really sounds like it is up my alley. I like the symbolic imagery and would be curious to see if I could get it.

    Btw, I had sent you and e-mail concerning a book won. This is your last day to respond! Check that spam filter. :)


The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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