Helen Oyeyemi's eerie third novel features a young woman who has a strange eating disorder and lives with her twin brother and widowed father in a haunted house across the street from a cemetery full of unmarked graves. On the surface, this setup might appear best suited to the young adult fiction market, but Oyeyemi…knows that ghost stories aren't just for kids. And White Is for Witching turns out to be a delightfully unconventional coming-of-age story…As in Toni Morrison's Beloved or Chris Abani's Song for Night, the supernatural elements of White Is for Witching serve to remind the charactersand Oyeyemi's readersof horrifying historical circumstances. Although she may rely on some too familiar narrative ploys, Oyeyemi clearly appreciates that some crimes (like slavery or genocide or, in this case, institutional racism) are so heinous that the conventions of realist fiction seem woefully inadequate to describe them. She makes us glad to suspend disbelief.
The New York Times
Oyeyemi delivers her third passionate and unusual book, a neo-gothic tale revolving around Miranda and Eliot Silver, fraternal twins of Haitian descent raised in a British house haunted by generations of afflicted, displaced family members, including their mother. Miranda suffers from pica, an affliction that causes her to eat nonedible items, which is passed down to her via the specters from her childhood that now punctuate her nightmares. As the novel progresses, the increasingly violent nature of this bizarre, insatiable hunger reveals itself to be the ironclad grip of the dead over the living or of mother over daughter. The book is structured around multiple voices-including that of the house itself-that bleed into one another. Appealing from page one, the story, like the house, becomes extremely foreboding, as the house is "storing its collapse" and "can only be as good as" those who inhabit it. The house's protective, selfish voice carries a child's vision of loss: in the absence of a mother, feelings of anger, betrayal and bodily desire replace the sensation of connection. Unconventional, intoxicating and deeply disquieting. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
After Lily Silver is killed on assignment in Haiti, her family is left in her childhood home in Dover, England. While her widower, Luc, throws himself into the running of his bed-and-breakfast, their son, Eliot, stays away from home as much as he can, and their daughter, Miranda, begins to lose herself in her eating disorder. After Miranda returns from a psychiatric clinic, the Silver House begins to haunt her with visions of her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, keeping her close while driving away foreign guests. The house also drives away Miranda's African friend from Cambridge, and Miranda herself disappears into the secret passages of the house. VERDICT Oyeyemi's third novel (after The Opposite House) is eerie and compelling, employing a nonlinear style that features wisps of family history and various unreliable narrators breaking into the text that suit a gothic, ghostly story. Readers who like paranormal tales and family secrets, told in an experimental style, will enjoy this novel.—Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD
[Oyeyemi] makes us glad to suspend disbelief."
—The New York Times Book Review
“Profoundly chilling . . . a slow-building neo-Gothic that will leave persevering readers breathless.”
—The Boston Globe
“If you’ve been missing Shirley Jackson all these many years . . . here’s a writer who seems to be a direct heir to that lamented one’s gothic throne.”
—The Austin Chronicle
“Superbly atmospheric. . . . The dark tones of Poe in her haunting have also the elasticity of Haruki Murakami’s surreal mental landscapes.”
—The Independent (UK)
“[Oyeyemi’s] technical skill as a novelist is remarkable, her range of reference formidable and her use of language virtuosic.”
—The Daily Telegraph (UK)
"Appealing from page one.... Unconventional, intoxicating and deeply disquieting."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Laced with thought-provoking story lines."