Thursday, 18 February 2010

White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Pages - 245

Published by Picador in 2009

Challenges - Support Your Local Library Challenge, Typically British Challenge and GLBT challenge.

Miranda Silver is in Dover, in the ground beneath her mother's house.

Her throat is blocked with a slice of apple ( to stop her speaking words that may betray her) her ears are filled with earth ( to keep her from hearing sounds that will confuse her) her eyes are closed, but her heart thrums hard like hummingbird wings.

Miranda and Eliot are twins, living in a house with a will of its own. Along with their father, they are coming to terms with the recent death of their mother. The house appears to be grieving too as well as playing tricks on the guests who stay there and the permanent inhabitants. Miranda is struggling to deal with her illness; she suffers with pica, which means she eats items that are non nutritive such as chalk and plastic. Slowly the house is taking her away from her family, just like it did with the previous women within the family going back four generations.

Hmm, I am at a loss as to what to say about this book. I don't think I really enjoyed it. I loved Oyeyemi's 'The Icarus Girl', but I found this one to be rather confusing. I felt that nothing was clear cut within the story, their was a lot of subtlety which left me at a loss as to what was happening. I actually felt that I really didn't have a clue as to what was going on for the majority of the book. I don't think it helped that I kept getting distracted whilst reading it and I think this is a book that requires your full attention at all times in order to understand what is going on. .

The book is extremely creepy and and there is a Gothic aroma to it. I wasn't always sure if events were actually happening or whether Miranda was imagining things. The house appears to be more than haunted in it, I would actually say it was possessed.

It was interesting to learn about the medical condition pica. I had heard of people eating strange things but never knew what the condition was called. It is quite a dangerous illness, as the people suffering with it could rupture the linings of their stomachs. It appears to be quite common in children, as well as pregnant women. Luckily for me, my only unusual eating habit during pregnancy, was sucking limes.

All the characters appeared to have an element of psychosis within their personalities. The relationship between Ore and Miranda is quite beautiful, but also a very dependent one. Miranda was slowly dying and held onto Ore in order to keep her alive. Ore suffered within this relationship. Miranda's relationship with Eliot, her twin, went along the psychologically connected route, often considered a possibility with twins. Personally my two have never shown any signs, but wouldn't it be fabulous if they did.

I think this is a book that really needs to be read slowly and one I may need to read again, in order to truly understand what actually occurred. All I am really aware of is that the guest house is not one I would wish to stay in, in the foreseeable future.

Other reviews of this book.

A Striped Armchair

16 comments:

  1. lol, my only strange eating habit during my pregnancy was wanting to eat cookie cream commotion ice cream all day :-) i've thought about reading this book, but heard that it is obscure from other sources too and right now just don't feel like i could be bothered, thanks for the reivew and helping me make my mind up!

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  2. I really don't think this book is for me. I've heard of pica before but only in combination with pregnancy(didn't experience it when I was pregnant myself though). I didn't know that it was an medical condition.

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  3. I was under the impression that pica was a disease people got mostly from malnutrition. Like pregnant women who don't have enough food or the right kind of food develop it because they're looking for certain vitamins/minerals that the baby needs. (and btw I'm really glad I never craved eating my walls or pieces of metal)

    Sorry to hear this was a disappointment. I still haven't gotten around to The Icarus Girl but from Eva's review White is for Witching sounded really good.

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  4. I don't think this is the book for me. Creepy and confusing is probably too much for my little brain.

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  5. What a great, honest review! I have not read anything by this author, but I would almost pick up the book for the cover alone!

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  6. Hmm, sounds interesting, but I don't really know if I want to read it. I don't really like confusing books. Thanks for your honest review.

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  7. Oh Boy, a creepy book with a great cover --I'm in! Thanks Viv.

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  8. Well that sounds creepy. But nice review, and I really should read things like this too

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  9. That first paragraph sounded really good but I never get chance here to give myself up totally to a book so maybe not one for me, not yet anyway.

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  10. You know this book sounds really good from the description and even what you say about it. I really like creepy but I don't like confusing. Where do you hear about all these different kinds of books Viv?

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  11. White is for Witching does sound like a rather strange book. I remember hearing about Pica many years ago, and thinking it was an odd affliction. Thanks for your review, Vivienne.

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  12. Eek! Am sad you didn't enjoy it. :/

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  13. I still haven't read the Icarus Girl, is that her other book. Even though you might need another go round to like this one it sounds fascinating and just makes me want to read her even more.

    I started Angelica on audio. What a strange little book.

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  14. Hmmm...I think I'll read The Icarus Girl first!

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  15. I'm sad that you didn't enjoy this one as much as Eva, Vivienne. I have a copy from the library and plan to read it soon.

    I wonder whether the pregnancy craving for coal has anything to do with pica.

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  16. I'm so glad it wasn't just me! I just review this - here: http://stuck-in-a-book.blogspot.com/2010/02/white-is-for-witching.html - and it completely confused me, though I liked The Icarus Girl - and I usually like reading books about twins, being one myself...

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