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The White Forest

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,537 ratings  ·  356 reviews
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 i
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Gallery Books (first published September 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,537 ratings  ·  356 reviews

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Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Literary masterpiece! The story itself is odd yet compelling. The first ten pages are confusing but slowly the conflict takes shape. Jane, a somewhat backward girl, senses the living souls of matter. Sometimes deafening and disturbing and other times calming and complete, Jane shares her gift with her best friends, Maddie and Nathan. Unfortunately, Jane knows little of human nature and petty jealousies. The story gathers speed even in nineteenth century England, as Maddie and Jane try to solve t ...more
Madly Jane
Annotating for reading class, REREAD 2020

REREAD 2016!

I reread this book because of the way magic is organic, because it deals with a sort of goddess myth, Victorian magic and superstition, because of tone and mood, and some of the best details. I absolutely love Jane. I wish I had my first review, but I've deleted it. My conflict with the book on first read was the use of flashbacks, and how some of the story is a flashback within a flashback, and also I wanted The White Forest to be more danger
Fantastical and haunting, from the start THE WHITE FOREST has me riveted to the page. I can't tell if our narrator is out of JANE EYRE or THE TELL-TALE HEART, but her measured description of her strange world has me captivated. Jane is a contradictory mix of petty emotion and open-hearted loneliness, making her grateful and jealous of the attention of her friends. Even more intriguing, her otherworldly gift seems both dangerous and innocuous, linked both to her mother's death and a meaningless p ...more
Tahlia Newland
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a difficult review to write, because it’s a well crafted book and I’d like to like it, but for me, White Forest misses the mark conceptually and in its overall mood. Though some will love its dark pagan undercurrents and fuzzy mysticism, I think it’s unnecessarily confusing.

The story

White Forest is set on the edge of Hampstead Heath just after the Crimean war. The main character, a young woman called Jane Silverlake, can hear the souls of man-made objects (we’re already on shaky concept
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: I was offered a free review copy by Simon & Schuster in return for an honest review. Touchstone, the publisher of The White Forest, is a S&S imprint.

***SPOILER ALERT*** I’ve tried very hard not to give the story away, but hints of it may show through in this very long review. I’m really writing for those who have already read the book and want to know what others think about it. So if you’re here because you’re wondering whether to read this novel, you might want to read it
Sep 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
More akin to a New Weird, a Fey fantasy or even Urban fantasy than to a real Gothic novel. Twee descriptions and prissy characters do not add up to a faux Victoria novel. The characters are much too modern to ever feel like you're experiencing the past. Constant and irritating digressions dull what very little pace there is. I was very much looking forward to a Gothic novel, and I did not find one here. It's billed as a scarey read. It's not. It's boring from start to finish. ...more
Wendy Darling
Well, if you compare any author to Sarah Waters, I'll be pawing at your door. Fingers crossed! ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The author has crafted together a winner of a story on many levels.
He has chosen the dark and Gothicness of Victorian London amongst the days of Edgar Allen Poe and Percy shelly and set the story around a vast evergreen of beautiful and haunting of the Hempstead Heath, plagued with a deep ancient mythical past that has an ever present energy calling a particular woman Jane that traces its origins possibly back before man and religion treaded upon its soil.
There are big questions over the main pr
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This new novel (soon to be released) is both a beautifully written and compulsively readable literary thriller. McOmber writes with an enviable imagination and the sense of foreboding, mystery and eroticism throughout - all are handled with expertise.
Written in beautiful, 19th century-sque language, full of visually sumptuous sceneries and vividly depicted, memorable characters, The White Forest is a gorgeous gothic novel that combines elements of historical fiction, fantasy, horror and romance.

Set in Victorian England, this seductive and mysterious novel tells the story of one young man's sudden disappearance and the frantic search that ensues. The well-born son of Lord William Ashe, Nathan, goes missing. It happens not long after Nathan
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Originally reviewed on A Reader of Fictions.

The White Forest was not what I was expecting at all. Perhaps I should have been, but I tend not to read blurbs at all or not closely, because they sometimes contain spoilers. Anyway, I thought this was going to be a gorgeous novel of historical fiction, and it certainly starts out that way. Then it changes into fantasy horror, so be prepared for that.

The writing of The White Forest is lush, dark and gothic. I very much appreciate McOmber's style and u
Cat Chmaj
A love triangle, white apes, and a cult? Oh, my!

Yes, I will admit that I was first drawn to this book in the store due to its gorgeous cover. But, then I saw the title and read the inside flap and was even more intrigued. The enchantingly strange plot sounded like everything I've wanted in a book: Girl has an unusual gift. Story takes place in a beautiful Victorian England setting. Interesting trio of friendship that soon becomes a tension-filled love triangle..

With that in mind, I had high hope
Christy B
I love historical fantasy (that doesn't have vampires, zombies, and werewolves) and The White Forest was a perfect example of historical fantasy done right. We get the feel of the time period, but with an added mystical atmosphere.

The specific date the story takes place in is never mentioned, but it takes place after the Crimean War. The story revolves around Jane Silverlake, who has a gift, a gift I don't want to even begin to explain because I'll just ruin it. Jane is friends with Maddy and Na
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2014
[5 Stars] I need more time to formulate my opinion about this book. I absolutely lived the writing, its originality, the dark Gothic tone, the Victorian and slightly steampunk setting, the vivid somewhat dense descriptions, the imperfect flawed and at times cruel characters. Then again, this left me hungry for something more, to be further convinced... Regardless I loved this and would give it 4.5 stars, may be even 5 stars. It was exactly the kind of book I like to read.

I've decided this deserv
Tomoe Hotaru
Bizarre, is one word I would use to describe The White Forest by Adam McOmber; but not necessarily is that a bad thing. Our tale starts off on a mysterious air, quite normal enough, in a Victorian England. The imagery and mood built by the narrative is both vivid and captivating, promising us with a mystery to unravel; a crime to solve, secrets to unveil.

And then, towards the end of the novel, the world of Jane Silverlake took a tumble into a rabbit hole of her own - spiraling deeper and deeper
Nov 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
We all go through these fazes where we just feel we can not find anything good to read. This last month that is where I have been at, in book doldrums. So, just to put it in perspective, I crave good plots and interesting characters like a diabetic looking for the next hit of sugar. And, it has been a bit thin on the ground lately, sweet wize. I went back to old tried and true favourites, but, it is not the same - no new surprises, that novelty that thrills and has you stand up at the end and sa ...more
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
I just bought my copy on amazon. So when Sarah and I buddy read this, I have a copy no matter what.

Edit: Where to begin to describe this book?

The characters were flawed but believable. I didn't feel like punching anyone, but there were some unlikeable characters but you were supposed to hate them.

There was a love story but it didn't feel like it took over the plot, but it was a big part of the plot. The most important theme was friendship when it came to the dynamics between the three main chara
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers

Jane Silverlake has always been a strange and aloof child, growing up in the isolated, deteriorating Hampstead Heath outside of London. Following her mother's strange death, Jane has discovered she possesses a unique ability - she can perceive the souls of manmade objects, sensing their auras and resonant sounds and colors. Even more, Jane can transfer this experience through physical contact, an ability that she both relishes (especially to exact revenge
Sep 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Three Stars: A unique gothic read that will have you thinking outside of the box.

Jane has led a solitary life since her mother passed away when she was six.  She spends her days hiding in the shadows, listening to everything around her.  Jane has a unique gift.  She has the ability to hear and feel inanimate objects. Everything has its own distinct voice.  The house servants are frightened of Jane and accuse her of devilry.  Her father is lost in his own grief, he loves her but fails to see her.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it liked it
The White Forest plunges the reader into the aftermath of the disappearance of one Nathan Ashe, a high society youth, and the two women who love him - Maddy, a debutante with a family in disgrace, and Jane Silverlake, a main character harboring the supernatural ability to sense the souls of objects. Nathan is fascinated by Jane's abilities, and, convinced she is the key to some cosmic mystery, presses her to include him in ever greater experiments to see where her power leads. But Jane has no id ...more
All Things Urban Fantasy
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastical and haunting, from the start THE WHITE FOREST had me glued to the page. I couldn’t tell if our narrator was out of JANE EYRE or THE TELL-TALE HEART, but Jane’s measured description of her strange world had me captivated. Jane is a contradictory mix of petty emotion and open-hearted loneliness, making her both grateful and jealous of the attention of her friends. Even more intriguing, her otherworldly gift seems simultaneously dangerous and innocuous, linked both to her mother’s death ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book ~ it left me in a weird mood, kind of depressed and grouchy and blank. The imagery is cold and frigid, not of this earth. I kept picturing the landscape like one that had the life sucked out of it and all that was left was a white husk.

The story is told from the point of view of Jane Silverlake - a plain girl who sounds like she has an ethereal beauty, white skin and gray eyes. She is not a nice person, not really. She torments her maid, and her feelings for
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
A period piece that crosses into the supernatural which is heavy in description and mood. I have to say, it is very clear that Mr. McOmber has done his homework when it came to the time period and history that he was writing about. Not only that, he obviously studied the language and mannerisms that defined the time. The White Forest is thickly filled with a a usage of words that are nearly dripping in richness and beauty. The beginning of the story pulls you in with a mystery that is both confu ...more
Tara Bilbao
Sep 10, 2012 rated it liked it
This book started out as a very intriguing tale and was a bit of a page turner. Unfortunately, I never received the answers that I was looking for within the storyline and many aspects of the plot were not resolved. Frequent allusions to subplots that could have been quite interesting to help the story along and given depth to the characters , were just left adrift and never investigated. The draw of the "fetches" to the cult was never explained thoroughly enough to believe that these young men ...more
Diane S ☔
Was attracted to this book by the words, Gothic and Victorian but in reality this was not my genre. Just had problems following Jane into this mystical world. It is well written and the first part of the book was very interesting but than I just got lost. Too many unbelievable things were thrown at me and I just couldn't keep up. ...more
Liza Nahas
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it

Great gothic read, beautiful vocabulary, lush settings, intriguing characters. Reminds me of Great & Terrible Beauty and The Night Circus.
Horror DNA
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jennifer-turner
I'll admit that when I first started reading The White Forest, I simply couldn't get into it. If this book hadn't been assigned to me, I would have likely set it down and never finished it. I was glad I forced myself to read it, because it went from boring to amazing so very quickly.

You can read Jennifer's full review at Horror DNA by clicking here.
I was familiar with the realms of unnatural, for I myself was an unnatural. Not a monster in appearance; I looked 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. (The White Forest by Adam McOmber)

I don't often do this, but...
Run, don't walk, to your nearest bookshop (or whatever means you have for feeding your reading addiction
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Jane Silverlake is a peculiar girl. Her mother died and her father never got over it; consequently, he neglects her and their family estate in the heath of Victorian England. She barely ever leaves the house until one day, Madeline, a new girl to town rescues her from her misery and befriends her. They even allow a lord's son, Nathan, to accompany them on their daily walks and in turn, the three become fast friends. Jane isn't your normal girl though. She has a gift. She can see into the souls o ...more
I'm surprised that a male author chose to write this particular type of story. He has a good feel for the female perspective. If I hadn't already known that the author was a man I may not have been able to tell. Not that he writes women perfectly because even some women find that difficult but he definitely has insight.

Reading this reminded me of "A Great and Terrible Beauty" in a lot of ways. I don't want to take away from this story by comparing it to another but there are a lot of parallels t
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 3 Mar 14, 2015 01:45PM  
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Adam McOmber is the author of two novels, The White Forest (Simon and Schuster) and Jesus and John (Lethe), as well as two collections of stories, This New & Poisonous Air and My House Gathers Desires (BOA Editions). His forthcoming novel, The Ghost Finders, will be released by JournalStone in June 2021. His work has appeared recently in Conjunctions, Kenyon Review, Salt Hill and Diagram. He teach ...more

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