White is for Witching

White is for Witching coverIf there is any disappointment associated with this book, it’s that I read it too late in the year to buy it for anyone for Christmas. Oyeyemi’s third novel is, like The Opposite House, a fierce, fluid and economical tale, more explicit about its fantastic content but still laced with sufficient uncertainties that after one quick read I don’t feel able to speak authoritatively about “what happened”. I tend more to Jane Shilling‘s view of the book than Carrie O’Grady‘s, however. So, to describe its three narrators: Eliot, whose twin Miranda is at the heart of the book, and who appears to be sincerely conscientious about her worsening health; Ore, who falls into a relationship with Miranda when the two of them meet in their first year at Cambridge, and comes to visit her at home during the Christmas vacation; and 29 Barton Road, the house where Eliot and Miranda and their father Luc live in Dover, whose voice is (mostly) the voice of Miranda’s mother, and grandmother, and great-grandmother (as Dan Hartland notes, the voice of history), speaking in chorus, fearful of and prejudiced towards anyone not of the family, anyone different. Their hold over Miranda only grows. A darkly self-aware ghost story, then, with an uncommon freshness that springs from its acuity of insight into character and circumstance; a book in which the scariest thing is what the fear of other people can become, and do.