THE WHITE FOREST – Adam McOmber
ISBN 1-4516-6425-6 (Hardcover)
ISBN 1-4516-6427-0 (eBook)
Hampstead Heath and Southwark, England – Victorian Era
Jane, Madeline, and Nathan have been best of friends, until Jane touches Nathan and changes him forever. Or was he changed because of his preoccupation with the teachings of Ariston Day, a cult leader who is trying to find the perfect state of eternal life? Jane watches as Nathan, the son of Lord William Ashe, begins to lose himself in his ruminations. Jane and Maddy both love him—the young man who has befriended them and then went off to war in the Crimea. He is obsessed with finding Empyrean and wants Jane to show him the way. Jane and Maddy are concerned for their friend and distrustful of the teaching of the Temple of the Lamb run by Ariston Day. They are stunned when Nathan disappears.
As Jane and Maddy stroll the streets of Southwark, they hear the newsboys calling out Nathan's name and speculating about his disappearance. Nathan had become a Fetch (follower) of Ariston Day, and his friends attest to seeing him come to the Temple on a certain day, but not seeing him leave. Inspector Vidocq, co-founder of Scotland Yard, is investigating the disappearance. Rumors abound that he drowned in the Thames and was taken away by beasts. Jane feels a certain amount of culpability in his disappearance because she shared some of her knowledge of the Empyrean with him.
Only Maddy and Nathan know Jane's secret. Her mother had a horrifying experience of the devouring earth while walking on the Heath. As she rants about what befell her, she cautions Jane to never go into the second world which would kill her. For several nights Jane dreams of a white forest (the Empyrean) filled with invisible creatures. After the death of her mother, Jane changes. She is able to touch and feel animation in the inanimate. She sees color and feels vibration and energy. She discovers an unusual painting hidden in her mother's closet of a woman enveloped in flowers and wearing her mother's face. She is the Lady of Flowers her mother called for in her ravings.
The sounds and colors become more intense after Nathan's disappearance. Jane believes there is an unseen force inhabiting her home. The only way she can escape is by going into the garden. She finds one of Nathan's buttons and sees a vision of a white forest. What does it all mean? She is grateful to have her one friend, Maddy. Will she find Nathan, or is he gone forever? Will she discover the cause of the phenomenon of sounds and color? And what does Aniston Day have to do with it all? Jane's talent continues to evolve.
THE WHITE FOREST is a strange and unusual fantasy world that Jane is trying to comprehend. Above all, her friendships with Nathan and Maddy are of great importance to her for she has no other friends. She slips back in time ruminating about all the times she shared with them. She hoped that they would always be best of friends but now realizes that that was a childish dream. Vidocq continues to investigate, and Ariston Day, who is said to be a dangerous man, wants to know more about Jane's talent. Although Jane is fearful of THE WHITE FOREST, she is also curious; will she succumb to the temptation and step into this pallid world? And if she does, will she be able to return? And of what significance is the Lady of Flowers who appears frequently in the story?
Readers will want to know what is happening and what this strange gift that Jane possesses is all about. They will be mesmerized by this weird and eerie tale. It moves along at a good pace to keep readers entertained, wondering how everything will be resolved. THE WHITE FOREST is a well written and imaginative debut that is sure to keep readers turning the pages.