Horror (Teen)

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

I’ve heard a lot about this author’s work and I’ve been seeing this book around a lot. Since it’s so close to Halloween, I’ve been in the mood for something dark and gothic. I thought this would be perfect for me… so here is my review:

The Silver family has been struggling to get back onto their feet after a tragic accident. Lily is gone and her twin children, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, Luc, are deep in mourning. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and acts malignantly to visitors, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. There are generations of Silver women in its walls, and they won’t leave Miranda alone. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is aware of their presence. Slowly, slow,y she is leaving them –

Slipping away from them –

And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.

I was really drawn to the premise of this novel because it had some ghostly elements to it, and that’s kind of my thing. But I found that this novel was a bit hard to read and get through. For one thing, it is told from multiple points of view but the transition between the different voices is not always clear. We read from Miranda’s perspective, from her brother’s perspective, from her friend’s perspective, and even from the house’s perspective. You heard that right … the house talks. While I found this all intriguing, it got confusing very quickly because the transitions were just so abrupt. I really liked reading about pica, which is a disorder where people want to eat things that are “non-nutritive” like chalk, or paper. This was a very unique feature for the author to include and she carried it out well throughout the story. However, I really didn’t like Miranda’s character. There wasn’t much to her and she was just very weak. In fact, there were quite a few times where I wished the author had worked on some of the characters being introduced. I wanted to have a better understanding of who Miranda’s mother was, as her death was like a catalyst for the events that happened. I wished there had been more on the house itself; the author clearly gave it its own voice so it only seems fair that the reader understands more about the character of the house. The list of characters I wish the author had focused on could go on and on …. you get my gist. The story moved quite slowly, which made me bored at times, but I didn’t mind the pacing too much since it allowed for this really nice buildup of tension. However, the ending was a moot point; it felt incomplete and unresolved and it made me wonder why I had spent so much effort reading this novel in the first place. In the end, I just didn’t enjoy reading this novel – even though I really wanted to. I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

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