Helen Oyeyemi - White is for Witching (2 stars)

Helen Oyeyemi - White is for Witching

(Picador)

GOTHIC DRAMA

There is clearly much promise in the 24-year-old fingertips of Helen Oyeyemi but the scorching hype she’s been on the end of to date has been a little excessive. Her tale of a Devon-based family torn apart by the mysterious loss of the matriarch and haunted by the ghosts of their heritage has enough drive to keep you ploughing through but the novel’s faults ultimately outweigh its pleasures.

Having various tellers dipping in and out is not a worry in itself, but when their tone is often identical, the reader can spend too much time trying to work out exactly who has been passed the narrative baton. And though she does have a tender turn of phrase on occasion, she really needs to ditch the likes of this: ‘She wasn’t angry. She was just being deontological’. Perhaps over-ambition is the main problem as White is for Witching is flat when it seeks to be profound and bamboozling when it tries to be haunting.

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