Every now and then, a book is published that transcends all genre stereotypes and almost instantly marks itself down as a contemporary classic. These books are usually few and far between, and they always leave a lasting impression upon the literature community. THE WHITE FOREST, a debut novel by Adam McOmber, might very well fit into this modern classic category. Well-written with stunning imagery, believable characters, and a thrilling plot, this book is both entertaining and thought-provoking.
If you are not familiar with THE WHITE FOREST, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the press release:
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.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. I’ve read a lot of hype about it prior to actually reading it, so I was concerned that I might be disappointed. Thankfully, McOmber’s book not only lives up to the buzz, it surpasses it in a big way. This is a fantastic read all the way around.
THE WHITE FOREST is written very well. McOmber’s writing style is elegant and swift, like a flowing river of silk, and lacks any sort of trepidation when it comes to thrilling the reader with its actions. I never once felt bogged down by the writing, nor did I ever lose my focus due to sentence structure or word usage. This type of writing allows the reader full immersion into the world created on the page.
The characters are believable and flawed, giving the reader a reason to actually invest in them. Whereas some historical fiction embellishes the characters to the point of absurdity, THE WHITE FOREST does not take such liberties. McOmber appears to take great pains in giving his readers more than one reason to come back to the story.
And what a story it is! McOmber weaves a dark and magical world within the actual world of Victorian London and creates a believable yet terrifying reality that could have existed therein. Several reviews I have read of this book mention ‘Gothic chills’ and frights, and every one of those is spot on; this is a haunting book that lingers long after the cover is closed.
THE WHITE FOREST is an excellent debut and I highly recommend giving it a look. The book is available now in a variety of formats, so check it out soon.