White is for Witching
As a child, Miranda Silver developed pica, a rare eating disorder that causes its victims to consume nonedible substances. The death of her mother when Miranda is sixteen exacerbates her condition; nothing, however, satisfies a strange hunger passed down through the women in her family. And then there’s the family house in Dover, England, converted to a bed-and-breakfast by Miranda’s father. Dover has long been known for its hostility toward outsiders. But the Silver House manifests a more conscious malice toward strangers, dispatching those visitors it despises. Enraged by the constant stream of foreign staff and guests, the house finally unleashes its most destructive power.
With distinct originality and grace, and an extraordinary gift for making the fantastic believable, Helen Oyeyemi spins the politics of family and nation into a riveting and unforgettable mystery.
This book is about Miranda Silver, and her twin brother Eliot, her friend Ore, her father Luc, the housekeeper Sade, and a few others. It's about the house where they all live. It's about Miranda's mother who has passed away. It's about Luc's struggle to find a balance between his grief over losing his wife, and the need to stay strong for his teenage children, one of whom, Miranda, is suffering from a rare mental illness called the Pica. Miranda feels an urge to consume things that are not really edible food. She would rather have a plastic spoon or a ball of chalk any day over the delicious meals Luc prepares for her. And then there's Eliot, her twin brother, who is also grieving, but has no room to show it while stuck between Luc and Miranda, with nowhere else to go.
The absence of Lily Silver, the mother of the twins, is felt throughout the book. Lily was like a buffer; her presence had always smoothed over the real problems in their 4-person family-- the unusual attachment between the twins, Luc's awkwardness with the children. She tied them all together; she kept them normal. She kept them sane. But now she was gone, and the void left by her was creeping up on all the rest of the inhabitants of the house where they all lived. Did Lily shield them from the monster that lived in the house as well? Was everything that they knew simply an illusion of happiness? Were they happy or safe in the first place?
I really don't know how to talk more about this book without giving away the plot; so I won't even try. All I'll say is that you will find a lot of parallels in this story. Is this a horror story? Is this a story about human relationships? Is it about dealing with death? Is it about living with a mental illness? Where is the line that separates sanity from insanity. When one person is sick, how do the others in a family stay normal? Are monsters real? Or are we all monstrous beings waiting for the opportunity to bare our fangs? I guess each individual will interpret this story differently, based on his/her experiences. But that's what makes this book so unique, so great.
All I have left to say is that-- Go read this book. If you like dark, gothic tales of monsters and madness, go read it. If you like family drama, death, sadness, tragedy, go read it. If you like a gut wrenching love story, well, this may not exactly be "gut wrenching", but still, go read it. If you like to read a book and after finishing it look around to make sure all the lights are on in the house, go read it. Just go read it. Like, NOW!