Author(s): Helen Oyeyemi
A twenty-first-century gothic thriller steeped in Nigerian folklore, told from the viewpoint of an eight-year-old girl with a touch of genius; a heroine in the vein of Mark Haddon's Christopher.
'Stop looking to belong, half-and-half child. Stop. There is nothing, there is only me, and I have caught you.'
Jessamy Harrison is eight years old. Sensitive, whimsical, possessed of an extraordinary and powerful imagination, she spends hours writing haiku, reading Shakespeare, or simply hiding in the dark warmth of the airing cupboard. Sometimes, when the world becomes too much for her, she can only scream and scream. Her South London schoolmates are wary of her precocious intelligence, and as the 'half-and-half' child of English and Nigerian parents she doesn't belong.
Taken to her mother's family compound in Nigeria for the first time, she meets her uncles and aunts and cousins - and her formidable old grandfather. Then one day, in the deserted servants' home, she encounters Titiola, a ragged little girl her own age. At last she has found a friend, someone she can play with, who understands her. But what is it that sly, capricious TillyTilly is seeking in return? What is the secret that TillyTilly is hiding from her? And why can no-one else see her new friend? As the bond between the two friends grows, Jess watches powerless as those around her begin to get hurt, and she begins to wonder if TillyTilly is as harmless as she looks.