White is for Witching

Helen Oyeyemi
White is for Witching Cover

White is for Witching

Ann Walker

This book was so sad! I think it was supposed to be horror, Modern Gothic of the "Evil House consuming its residents" genre, but I was mostly struck by the sadness of the mental illness of just about every one of the characters.

The main characters are Miranda and her fraternal twin Eliot, who are shattered by the accidental death of their mother, Lily, when they are sixteen. Their father, Luc, is left emotionally bereft and helpless without his wife. Miranda, whose hold on reality was already tenuous, descends into madness via anorexia and pica (the compulsive eating of non-food items, in her case, chalk and plastic). Eliot, frustrated by his inability to help his sister, takes up hipsterism and drugs. The House (which Miranda calls, incongruously, the Goodlady) has possibly? probably? consumed and absorbed female members of the family,frustrated by Lily's escape (to meet Death on the other side of the world) vents its fury on female visitors, while leaving the men to simply dessicate, emotionally if not physically, like insect husks.

The writing style is unusual, with point of view changes and twists occuring within paragraphs, like the twists and turns of the hallways in the house. Some of the language was very beautiful, especially the opening, is heart-stoppingly beautiful: her eyes are closed, but her heart thrums like hummingbird wings. How could I not continuing reading after that? It's a slender, fragile book, as Miranda is slender and fragile, but compelling, as Miranda's story is.