Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

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4 Stars (4 / 5)

Akata Witch #1

“I’d seen the end of the world in its flame. Raging fires, boiling oceans, toppled skyscrapers, ruptured land, dead and dying people. It was horrible. And it was coming.”

This book is so different that I knocked it up from 3.5 to 4 stars just for that. I know practically nothing about African mythology, which made this novel feel so fresh and new. There is not a lot like this out there, and I can’t help but love when something new and different comes along.

Akata Witch is set in Nigeria, where Sunny learns that she is a Leopard Person, someone who is in touch with her spirit-self and can use juju to work magical feats. She discovers a whole hidden world of learning and magic, one that embraces the differences between people instead of scorning them. Sunny, along with her cohorts Chichi, Orlu, and Sasha, is tasked with defeating a great evil and saving the world from destruction.

I’m not sure how much of this book was based in real Nigerian myth and culture, and how much was Okorafor herself, but everything felt so genuine I have to applaud it either way. Some of the aspects of the story were a little hard to swallow, but that could be my unfamiliarity with african culture (grown men beating each other to death was a little hard for me to digest). The style and pacing of the novel put me off at first, everything seemed to feel a bit superficial, but once I realized this was a Middle Grade novel (and not YA as I originally thought), my annoyance bled away and I was able to fully engage with the story (apparently my expectations can have a lot more to do with my enjoyment of a book than I realized).

All and all a very interesting and unique story. I will definitely have to check out the sequel!

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