White is for Witching

White is for Witching - Helen Oyeyemi

This book is a classic gothic, complete with a creepy racist haunted house, weird familial relationships, ghosts of the past, and unsettling body horror. Written in ever shifting points of view this book isn't always easy to grab onto. Sometimes shifts happen mid-sentence, and although the transitions are artful they do leave you struggling to regain your footing (which is likely intentional, but doesn't make for quick or even reading). Don't expect this book to move at a swift pace, or to have a scare in every chapter. This is a slow burner - the scary scenes are sparse, which actually adds to their effect when they do make an appearance. This book is more of a creeping dread sort of story, not a sleep with the lights on one.

 

The bulk of the book focuses on a pair of twins. Weirdly, though the story seems to want to be character driven, I never really felt like I truly knew who these people were. Their voices never felt fully distinct, and I'm still not entirely certain what motivated either of them (especially Eliot). I can make some educated guesses, but when it comes down to it neither of them felt very fleshed out to me. The only character that ever really completely came alive for me was Ore, Miranda's friend(?) from college. Honestly, I wish she came into the story sooner.

 

The writing is well crafted, the creep factor is high, and I was always intrigued enough to keep reading even when the pages went by slowly. This was the sort of book that made me miss literature classes - this would be an amazing text to analyze and pick apart (especially everything the book seemed to be saying about race). Reading it on my own made me feel certain I was missing quite a bit - this one might be a good candidate for a reread. There is a lot to ruminate upon in here, and the ending leaves lots of questions unanswered, though it still managed to be satisfying. If you are in the mood to read a modern gothic this one will probably scratch an itch for you.