Miranda and Eliot Silver are twins who have been raised in a house haunted by three generations of the women in their family: their mother, their grandmother, and their great-grandmother. Miranda has a condition called pica, which means she eats inedible things such as chalk and plastic. Over the course of the book, both Eliot and Miranda go away to school and while Eliot safely distances himself from his family and their scary house, Miranda drifts towards insanity and feels the house calling her back, beckoning her to leave school and stay at home. The novel is told in multiple narrators, one of which is the house itself, and it is alternately creepy and beautiful.
I definitely enjoyed White is for Witching. What I liked about it was the combination of the creepy/gothic stuff mixed in with normal, everyday life kinds of characters. True, Miranda was ill, and true, there were some serious skeleton’s in this family’s closet – but they were just a regular family, living in this crazy haunted house, but going about their business anyway. The fact that the house itself was a narrator was awesomely weird (and I must admit that it took me a bit to catch on to this, I can be a little slow from time to time). I particularly enjoyed the scenes when Miranda was away at school, and how the relationship she had with another woman was treated as if it was perfectly normal and okay (which it is, but isn’t often written about like it is).
I mostly appreciated how Oyeyemi made me care about these characters while also being creeped out and trying to figure out what the heck was really going on. I liked that White is for Witching is so different from what I typically read, but I managed to like it so much anyway. I like that I had to work a little harder than normal for this one – like I said, I can be slow, and there were some elements of the plot that I had to go back and reread pages to really understand. But working harder for it really made me appreciate the greatness that is inside these pages.
I definitely agree with Eva’s comparison of this book to We Have Always Lived in the Castle. If you are a Shirley Jackson fan, I would definitely make Helen Oyeyemi your next author to try!