Helen Oyeyemi's precocious debut at 18 with The Icarus Girl established certain themes in her writing – an interest in twins, spirits and the traditions of magic from African countries – which have been consolidated in this more complex novel.
Miranda is being haunted by the ghosts of her recently deceased mother, her unknown grandmother and her great-grandmother. This haunting has driven her mad, and Oyeyemi is to be congratulated on producing a fractured narrative to convincingly reflect Miranda's state of mind. (I did wonder, however, how much of it was achieved by simply taking out key words and sentences, much as Dylan Thomas was jokingly rumoured to do with his poetry.) While at university, almost as if she needs a mirror image to complete her, Miranda begins a relationship with her best friend, Ore; a relationship her twin brother, Eliot, cannot understand.
Oyeyemi flits between narrative voices, showing a greater interest and confidence in experimentation, to give us Ore's perspective as well as Eliot's, and those of the mothers who have passed on. The effect is powerful, and suitably shape-shifting: this is a narrative that never sits still.Reuse content