ADDITION: With all my complaints and I am going to revise this review, I still love this book and am haunted by it. It's one of the best books I've re...moreADDITION: With all my complaints and I am going to revise this review, I still love this book and am haunted by it. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time. It has staying power.
It's difficult to rate this book, because I have such mixed feelings about it. It's original, dark, Gothic, and highly descriptive in a way that makes you feel, see, smell, and taste the words. It's also a novel that I wanted to love, even as I read it and felt uncertain; I'd change my mind on the next page and say, "this is beautiful, disturbing and a great novel."--but then on the next page, I'd feel the same frustrations I felt over and over again. I do believe Adam McOmber has a great career ahead of him, and that many people are going to love this novel. The White Forest is, in truth, an irresistible read that I could not put down.(less)
First I am going to tell you the only "weak" element about this book. How the authors used POV. It was messy and I thought unnecessary. BUT I loved th...moreFirst I am going to tell you the only "weak" element about this book. How the authors used POV. It was messy and I thought unnecessary. BUT I loved the book anyway. It was a wonderful book and I spent all day reading it. I am going to read it again! Right now. EDITED NOTE: I liked it so much I ordered book 2 and book 3 just a minute ago. I need to read the whole story.
Talk about a Romeo and Juliet situation--Princess Adele and the Greyfriar are an impossible couple. And who knows what is going to happen to them? I don't. There are so many things I could write about these characters but I don't want to spoil the book so I have to be careful. Let's just say, I love the Greyfriar. Swoon. Swoon. Swoon.
And Princess Adele is such a good character. She's a kick-ass heroine without being the cliche you read in so much urban fantasy. Maybe what makes these characters more interesting is how they grow and change and learn. It's not about their past. It's not about some tortured memory. This is about living your life and having dreams, having curiosity. Making choices. Duty. Honor. Hope. Faith.
Great worldbuilding. I love these vampires, so like some I already know.
As I said, it was not perfectly written. But nothing that I could not get past. So I am adding it to my favorites. Mostly set in a weird steampunk/historical France, London, and Scotland.(less)
Firstly, if I had to recommend one book to wannabe YA authors from this year (2012), I would recommend this book. If I had a writer's group and we all...moreFirstly, if I had to recommend one book to wannabe YA authors from this year (2012), I would recommend this book. If I had a writer's group and we all were to use one book as a critique on what's right with writing, I'd choose this book. I say this because I am a writer and I read all books like a writer. This is a wonderfully written novel. A very solid read. With lots to recommend.
(SPOILERS) When I began reading this book, I knew that it contained no paranornmal elements, that it was a straight YA book with some mystery elements and themes. I also knew immediately when Katherine's coach entered the gaslit tunnel (with room for two coaches) that the author was going to use one of Victoriana's greatest eccentrics, William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland as a character, although I did not know how. I was so excited to see what the author would do with it. I was very impressed. As for the steampunk, this is the real thing from Victorian England. And that is why you see the illustration of the mechanical fish at the beginning of the book. And one should pay attention. It's not there for "nothing." But there is little fantasy to the steampunk elements, and this is not what one expects from steampunk, but I knew that, too, so I had no expectations of reading the sort of steampunk that is on the shelves now.
The plot is about a girl of seventeen, sent on a mission by a cruel aunt, to visit her mysterious uncle in a gothic estate, to see if the uncle needs to be sent to an asylum. The heroine is very likable and not the typical YA heroine of today. She's pragmatic and ordinary, no super powers, no big emotional scars. She is sort of the everyman character (but with a lot of heart) who is placed in extraordinary circumstances. You don't see enough of these kinds of characters today. Why? They are (actually) harder to write, to make interesting in a market full of vampires, werewolves, and angels.
Katherine is a remarkable character to study. I liked her a lot. Her journey is not on the road, but in a big house full of tunnels, clocks, dark and dusty rooms, mirrors, and strange sounds. That's harder to write, too. And the author does a splendid job. SPLENDID. (Laughing) Because that is one of words often used in this book.
Now for the other characters.
Uncle Tully--Uncle Tully is based on the eccentric real-life Duke. I cannot express on Goodreads all the things I loved about Uncle Tully, from his creation, to his own creations, to his wonderful dialogue, to his actions, and so forth. He is perfect. And he creates a change in the lives of all who know him, even Katherine, and it is because of Uncle Tully that Katherine becomes a round and heroic character. I write this because Uncle Tully is sort of the sphere on which all the other characters spin around. His madness is genius and what we today would probably call autism. The author did such a great job with this, down to the smallest detail.
Lane--the dark mysterious young man whom Katherine slowly (Thank goodness) falls in love with. This relationship is so unlike all the other YA bad boy relationships that I almost wept for joy. He is a great character. If I had to change one thing in the whole book, it would be to give his character a viewpoint. That would be a risk technically, but I would have done it. I think it would have added a complexity to the storyline and took this book out of the claustrophobic first person narrative found in so many YA books. It would have offered a relief from that narrow focus of the main character without taking away from Katherine's character. Lane really had nothing to keep secret.
All the other characters are charming, even the villains.
At one moment in the book, the climax, I felt the story a little rushed. I would have lingered on the explosion and added a chapter or so with Lane and the recovery elements before finishing up with the aunt's cause and so forth. But all and all, the ending was perfect and this is how a book should end. I literally screamed for joy because the story arcs were concluded, and one tiny arc remained, to be finished in another book or by the reader's imagination. That is how to write a BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ms Cameron is an excellent writer, and her story was vivid in detail without overwriting. Her language is clear and concise and beautiful. It's imaginative in its creation and in the control the author used to keep the story tight and focused. I might have liked the story bigger and more complex and darker, but that did not deter my interests.
I know a good book when I read it. This is one of them. I can't wait to see what the author does next. Highly recommended.
NOTE: I do believe this book was marketed toward 12-16 year old girls. There is a certain expectation in the lower YA years. Some YA books are really 16 and older. The story fulfills this genre requirement.
Finally it so nice to read a book that is just so unexpected in a genre that is overcrowded with the same story told over and over. The love triangle, the bad boy, the supernatural elements. Yes, I love supernatural elements and I might have enjoyed them in this story, but that's okay. I loved this book. I did not put a mark in it, but used a notebook for my remarks. I wanted to save it for a shelf devoted to my two-year old grandchild. It's a Keeper.(less)
This is my favorite novel by Charles Dickens (though Bleak House ran a close second and Great Expectations is third). I think this is because the stor...moreThis is my favorite novel by Charles Dickens (though Bleak House ran a close second and Great Expectations is third). I think this is because the story is a satire on money, has two incredible love stories and villains unlike other Dickens' novels.
It has influenced my own work and I'll be reading it again and again. (less)
I finished this last night after months of reading on it. Not my first read, but the first time I have read it in a long time. Love this book. It's on...moreI finished this last night after months of reading on it. Not my first read, but the first time I have read it in a long time. Love this book. It's one of those fictionalized biograhies, this time about a group of artists and writers in 19th century London. The Brownings, etc.(less)
I wanted to add this to my list. It's a very interesting novel and another one of those that I feel is an acquired taste. You need to love art and art...moreI wanted to add this to my list. It's a very interesting novel and another one of those that I feel is an acquired taste. You need to love art and art history to enjoy it.(less)