ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



May 2016



White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Two Stars

I’m supposed to like this book. I like things that are a bit bizarre. I like England (where it is set). And everyone seems to rave about both this author and this book. So I’ve clearly once again missed something.

And yet…

I should have known. The blurb on the front, from The Boston Globe, is “Profoundly chilling…a slow-building neo-Gothic that will leave persevering readers breathless.”

Did you catch that? “persevering readers.” Apparently I was in for a bit of a slog. A book that was going to make me work for the reward. Which makes me wonder – do I like having to work to enjoy what I’m reading?

I don’t think I do. I’m not looking for Dr. Seuss, or short sentences. I think a book can be complex and challenging without dragging and feeling like work. This book was the latter, not the former. And even though I did make it to the end … I super did not care. I wasn’t shocked by the ending, I assumed it would end the way it did the entire time.

What am I missing?

I realized this morning that I could not picture anything the author discusses in this book. The home that features as a character in the book – I have not a clue what it looks like, and nothing about the author’s words helped me build that image in my mind. I don’t know what Miri (one of the main characters) looks like, nor do I have any picture in my eye of any of the other characters. The only setting I could sort of picture was part of the chunk set at Cambridge, because I’ve been there.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this before. Is this the author’s goal – to make the reader just feel like she is reading words, not creating any sort of picture or story? If so, then huzzah! Success! But that’s not what I’m looking for in fiction, at all. I can’t recommend the book, although I am somewhat looking forward to book club (the reason I read this) tonight, to see what the hell I’m missing here.

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