4 Stars Reviews

Book Review: White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Miranda and her twin brother, Eliot, live in an old house on the cliffs near Dover, which their father runs as a bed and breakfast. People come and go through the house, though some never leave at all. Miranda returns from an extended hospital stay, weak from her unusual diet of chalk, and chalk alone. Her father hopes to entice her with his culinary concoctions, but Mira’s pica disorder has deeper roots than can be imagined, and when she begins to hear the voices that belong to the house her father risks losing her completely.

This house is bigger than you know! There are extra floors, with lots of people in them. They are looking people. They look at you, and they never move. 

This was a strange gem of a book that I sped through in a couple of days. I felt a constant sense of unease as I read even the most innocent of passages.

Miranda’s pica was interesting and something I’ve never encountered in literature before. I did somewhat struggle to connect with her character though, for reasons I can’t quite explain. I got the sense that there was an unusual and possibly forbidden aspect to the relationship between Mira and her twin brother Eliot that I don’t think is ever fully shown, like a lot of things in the book. It suffers from hinting at many things but not resolving most. I did really enjoy the concept of having the house itself as a character in the narrative, and not just in the sense that it played a large part in the novel but that it actually spoke to the reader, revealing and concealing goings on in the house and antagonising the characters.

Overall I enjoyed the unusualness of this novel and its unsettling effect on me, but the narrative and structural choices left me wanting more.

Rating: 4 stars

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