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Extended Audio Sample The White Forest, by Adam McOmber Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (801 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Adam McOmber Narrator: Susan Duerden Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] dark and gothic debut…evoking the dark weight of doomed love as well as the spiritualist craze that fascinated so many Victorians.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Teeming with as many twists and turns and shadowy characters as the narrow Victorian streets in which the tale is partially set, McOmber creates a…supernatural mystery that bombards the senses with rich dialogue and imagery.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “In his clever and beguiling pastiche of a first novel, McOmber explores the nexus between the natural and the artificial, the intangible and the concrete in coal-fouled Victorian London…Commandingly erudite and imaginative, McOmber meshes myth, the occult, and nineteenth-century technological advances in an uncanny and captivating gothic tale that aligns ancient mysteries with the startling revelations of newly harnessed electricity, and rigid social and sexual mores with epic yearning.”

    Booklist

  • “An inventive gothic tale that tracks the alarming and inexplicable adventures of three friends caught in a love triangle complicated by occult powers and the accelerating force of the industrial revolution.”

    Kansas City Star

  • “A moody, gothic tale full of hypnotizing twists and turns that transports readers to a world that is part real, part fantasy, and definitely plays with the mind.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “McOmber’s debut novel has a Victorian setting but is more truly situated in the surreal landscape of an alternate reality…The plot has sudden twists leading to an unanticipated conclusion.”

    Library Journal

  • “A dark, haunted and haunting parapsychological journey into a mysterious underworld of Victorian England…McOmber’s debut novel is well written, chilling and spooky, and the plot is highly original.”

    Historical Novel Society

  • Selected for the September 2012 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Liz | 2/19/2014

    " This book really grabs you...pulls you along it's twisting path. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Rebecca | 1/27/2014

    " A pretty interesting and creepy book. I have read a lot of reviews where people thought the end was weird, but I found it of a piece with the book. I think most folks probably expect a rational ending--but the book is supernatural in all senses of the word. The character of Vidoq is I think a way of throwing the reader off the scent of the answer, ironically enough. I liked the book very much. My only criticism is that I found the character of Maddy to be almost entirely unsympathetic. She is shallow and ignorant, and the main character's motivations for protecting and loving her were therefore hard to relate to, at least for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Libby Chester | 1/11/2014

    " The plot is excellent using lots of imagery and imagination. The main character, Jane Silverlake is isolated on Hampstead Heath. Her friendship with Maddy Lee and Nathan Ashe pulls her out of isolation. When Nathan becomes entranced with Jane's gift or talent of hearing the objects around her, he begins to call Jane the 'doorway,' as into another world. Both Jane and Maddy become intensely interested in Nathan and he in them, forming a triangular friendship that leads to jealousies between the two girls. Jane's mother died after an experience she had on the Heath when Jane was six. Before her death, she tells Jane that she was born from an oak tree. Part of Jane's talent is that she can transfer her experience of hearing objects to whoever she is touching at the time. Because of this, Nathan seeks her touch as an experiment; two of Jane's servants experience her touch as coming from a demon; Maddy refuses to let Jane touch her. Another man, Ariston Day, begins a cult in Southwark, to which he calls and entangles young men in his search for 'Paradise.' Adam McOmber creates a dark tale of this 'other world,' and during much of the story the reader is trying to figure out along with Jane, just what it entails, and what kind of creature Jane is. Jane is hugely interesting, and mostly believable, although not always truly likable. It seems as though she finds it difficult to be a real person outside of the experience of her friends. McOmber does a fine job with secondary characters, Maddy Lee and Nathan Ashe, of drawing out the details and feelings of each and their friendship. He is able to create a sense of dis-ease, of unquiet, of trepidation, feelings of a gothic novel in a gothic setting. The conversation with Adam McOmber at the end of the book sheds still more light on the novel. There are parts of the novel that are a little plodding where I lose some interest, but the mystery and McOmber's elegant writing style were always compelling enough to get me to return to the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Debra | 12/14/2013

    " See my comments. "

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