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Saturday, November 17, 2012

"The White Forest" by Adam McOmber~Gorgeous Storytelling

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.
Publisher:  Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Pages:  303
Genre:  Fiction/Fantasy
Author:  Adam McOmber
Find out more:  McOmber


Adam McOmber’s novel, The White Forest, will be published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, in September 2012. He is also the author of a book of short stories, This New & Poisonous Air (BOA Editions, 2011). His work has appeared in Conjunctions, StoryQuarterly, The Fairy Tale Review, Third Coast, Quarterly West, The Greensboro Review and Arts and Letters . He has been nominated for two 2012 Pushcart Awards and received an AWP Intro Award. He lives in Chicago and teaches at Columbia College where he is also the associate editor of the literary magazine Hotel Amerika.


This was a completely unexpected novel for me.  I expected a Victorian love story with a bit of mystery.  What I got was heads and shoulders above that.  Adam McOmber is a writer to be aware of, absolutely.  His "White Forest" is one that reminds me of the writings of Henry James.  Beautiful and intoxicating.  This book is very hypnotic.  The cadence of his writing and the pace catches you up in a heart racing adventure.

I love the setting of Victorian England, of course.  But what brings the book to life is the details this author chooses to illuminate...the Romanesque garden, certain small household items that "speak," the street scenes in minute detail and the haunting interactions between the players amongst these and other "wild" things.  This is above all a haunting story. 

Characters are instantly within our grasp and they cling to our hearts and minds like those in "The Children's Hour."  They are ethereal and magical...are they real...what do they know that's different from the real world...why do they have such other-worldy experiences?  The trio that's central to the story, Jane, Madeline and Nathan are gorgeous and compelling, moving us along a sort of rabbit's hole experience as we try to unravel the mystery of Jane's powers and why they're all caught up in another, dark world.

This is just the sort of Victorian, fantasy fiction that adults love to read.  I did and I highly recommend it.  Set during the time when Victorians were all enamoured of crystal balls and psychics, you'll love to read this walk down the dark side with a mysterious secret society.

4.5 stars                   Deborah/TheBookishDame



This one looks really good. I hadn't heard of it before reading your review, but I'm totally adding it to my TBR list. I love a good Victorian novel!

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