“As a child, I’d believed the Heath marked an end to civilization. One could get lost, not just physically lost, but spiritually. To venture onto it was to pass outside the boundaries of conventional reality.”
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.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading this novel. I requested it because I love stories that are set in Victorian England and this one in particular seemed mysterious and intriguing.
After reading the first halve of the book, I was a little confused and stuck. This book is so beautifully written, something I’ve been missing in a lot of YA books lately, but the story seemed to drag on. We got little bits of information about what happened before Nathan disappeared by means of flashbacks. But we also know there’s still a lot of the truth hidden, that Jane is keeping something from us, readers.
The second halve of this book was just an explosion of action. All the secrets that lay hidden for the first halve of the book were now revealed and they give an amazing spin to the story. Jane goes through such a transformation and begins to see all the things I noticed in the first half. She awoke, and boy, she’s awesome!
The Heath makes a haunting, beautiful setting for a story that explores the boundaries of human knowledge and gives an appealing explanation for the unknown, that goes beyond the things we can wrap our heads around. (Was there anything before the universe came to exist? Is there something else beyond this universe? Do gods exist?). It’s a breath of fresh air amongst the tidal wave of paranormal YA novels overwhelming us lately.
This is an imaginative and original story and it certainly deserves four stars, even though the first halve was rather slow. This is a story that will stay with me for a long long time.
This is the debut novel from Adam McOmber and I see a very bright future for this author. He has a beautiful writing style and knows how to create an amazing story. I’m already looking forward to his next book!
Thanks to the publisher and the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book. This book was provided to me through NetGalley.(