From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Oyeyemi delivers her third passionate and unusual book, a neo-gothic tale revolving around Miranda and Eliot Silver, fraternal twins of Haitian descent raised in a British house haunted by generations of afflicted, displaced family members, including their mother. Miranda suffers from pica, an affliction that causes her to eat nonedible items, which is passed down to her via the specters from her childhood that now punctuate her nightmares. As the novel progresses, the increasingly violent nature of this bizarre, insatiable hunger reveals itself to be the ironclad grip of the dead over the living or of mother over daughter. The book is structured around multiple voices—including that of the house itself—that bleed into one another. Appealing from page one, the story, like the house, becomes extremely foreboding, as the house is storing its collapse and can only be as good as those who inhabit it. The house's protective, selfish voice carries a child's vision of loss: in the absence of a mother, feelings of anger, betrayal and bodily desire replace the sensation of connection. Unconventional, intoxicating and deeply disquieting. (June)
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Oyeyemi’s third mystical novel weaves a tale of four generations of women and the house in Dover, England, they’ve inhabited—a vengeful, Gothic edifice that has always rejected strangers. The latest occupants are twins Miranda and Eliot, who were 16 when their mother, Lily, died and when their father, Luc, converted the house into a B&B. Miranda’s grief is “far far bigger than her.” She develops pica, an eating disorder, eschewing her father’s cooking and binging on hidden caches of chalk and plastic. After Miranda is discharged from a clinic, Eliot grapples with his brotherly responsibilities, telling Lily’s ghost, “She won’t forget or recover, she is inconsolable.” Lily’s mentally ill mother and grandmother still “inhabit” the house—each understanding that “we absolutely cannot have anyone else.” Oyeyemi’s style is as engimatic as her plot, with juxtaposition of past and present and abrupt changes in narrator, from third to first person, Eliot to Miranda, Lily to her mother. In all, a challenging read laced with thought-provoking story lines that end, like Miranda’s fate, mysteriously. --Deborah Donovan