Christina (A Reader of Fictions)'s Reviews > The White Forest

The White Forest by Adam McOmber
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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 use of language, even when the story went down paths I wasn't entirely thrilled about. Though the book does not have much action, the story moves along at a nice steady pace, jumping from the present to the past, as we unravel the mystery of what happened to Nathan Ashe.

The opening chapters focus on a friendship, that of Jane, Maddy and Nathan. The three of them formed an unlikely bond, one frowned upon by the rest of society. Two girls and a boy should not be so close, others felt, suspecting something unsavory. Jane, Maddy and Nathan could not care less about the opinions of others. Maddy and Nathan are both beautiful, meant perhaps for better things and company. Jane, so plain and boring and unworldly, feels so lucky every day to be important to them. She doesn't want anything to change between them ever.

Changes, of course, cannot be avoided as they grow older. Both Maddy and Jane struggle with an attraction to Nathan, and the jealousy of not knowing where his affections lie. Maddy especially felt jealous, hating Nathan's interest in Jane's supernatural powers. Nathan, on the other hand, has been tempted away from them by a cult led by the mysterious Ariston Day. Maddy desperately wants him out of the cult, justifiably, but to no avail. Then he disappears.

Jane's power initially seemed to me a sort of curiosity, but it's not; it is, in fact, the whole point, which I felt stupid for not figuring out sooner. Jane can see and her the souls of objects, this whole other world the rest of us have no sense of. By touching another person, she can let them see this as well, in a process she calls transference. Carrying flowers helps minimize the effect, so Jane stays flower-bedecked.

Her power, which she deems a curse, is of great interest to others, who ascribe many disparate meanings to it. Many, including Maddy, think this is a sign of witchery, that Jane has been touched by the devil. Others believe Jane and her powers can lead the way to paradise. Jane's mother, strange herself, says that Jane is the daughter of a tree. This basic concept of Jane's power wowed me. The cult, convinced of Jane's divinity, too, was a horrifyingly creepy and awesome element.

Unfortunately, as the book became completely fantasy, the story got a bit weird for me, likely especially so because I was not expecting the book to go there. The way everything turned out just seemed overly strange to me, especially the white apes and everything at the end. I love fantasy, but this world just did not ring out to me. This part reminded me strongly of H.G. Wells or H.P. Lovecraft, and their classic fantasy and horror. If you like their stories, I suspect you will enjoy this aspect much more than I did. I, however, found it too crazy, and read on in disbelief, no longer especially interested in the characters, though still entertained by the pretty writing.

Personally, I would have preferred if the book stayed historical fiction. However, if you like dark, creepy fantasy, The White Forest just might rock your socks off.
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Reading Progress

September 5, 2012 – Started Reading
September 5, 2012 – Shelved
September 5, 2012 –
page 11
3.63% "I think I'm going to like that."
September 5, 2012 –
page 11
3.63% "Like THIS. This is what happens when I try to update my status AND watch Reaper."
September 5, 2012 –
page 35
11.55% ""I was soon labeled by her a variety of evil on par with, if not higher than, Satan. There were days when she made me say prayers nearly every hour, but instead of asking anything of God, I would get on my knees and listen to the sounds the house made. I imagined that I was the god of the objects, and they were making prayers to me in their alien tongues."\n \n I like this girl."
September 5, 2012 –
page 47
September 5, 2012 –
page 71
September 6, 2012 –
page 105
September 6, 2012 –
page 169
September 6, 2012 –
page 205
September 7, 2012 –
page 259
September 7, 2012 – Finished Reading
October 9, 2012 – Shelved as: finishedreviewcopy

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