Review also posted on my blog
*The publisher provided me with this book for review, via Netgalley*
The White Oak by Kim White really is a bizarre little book. It is a strange cross between Alice in Wonderland, Coralline and Pan’s Labyrinth. I like weird and wonderful things and so this book was right up my alley.
The storyline is quite simply inspired. I loved the originality of the underworld Cora finds herself in. It was dark, dreary and miserable. Grim, dangerous and unsavoury just as an underworld should be. I imagined everything coated in darkness and ash. It was written in a way that made it easy to envision but at the same time the writing was sometimes stark and rigid. I saw everything in shadows, the world just couldn’t come to life for me completely because it wasn’t written strongly enough. The writing is not bad but I wanted more. This should have been a world you could see, breathe and taste but in the end turned out to be lacking in places.
I also loved the strange inhabitants of the underworld. They seemed to be a mix between ghosts and robots and are yet again completely new to me. My favourite character was Minotaur, he is a computer programed hologram (maybe, in all honesty I am not 100% sure what he is) who can change his appearance to anyone who has appeared on TV or on the internet. He changes his appearance a lot and it could have gotten confusing but somehow it worked and his character really stood out for me.
Again, like the writing the other characters were also quite bland. There was not much to them, they didn’t seem to have much personality and I couldn’t care about them with any real feeling because of that.
Another problem I had was with the ending. Quite simply this book doesn’t have an ending, it just stops and nothing is resolved at all. I do not mind a cliff hanger but I like to have at least some kind of ending.
White Oak is a brave book that achieves most of what it sets out to achieve. It is brave and original and takes the reader to a dark and new world. It is a shame that the writing lacked in parts because if everything had all come together this could have been a fantasy masterpiece. Instead, it is a decent and enjoyable read but is not something I would stay up late at night to finish.
I would recommend it to people who want to try something new and dark. It is an incredibly quick read which helps. I give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.