Book Review: AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor

“We’re lucky, really. We’re going to have a chance to prove what we’re made of. Some people never get that, man. Not in their whole life” (301).
Sometimes you step into a book and you just let yourself settle, let yourself rest. I often feel this way when I’m rereading. It’s some sort of nostalgia-like coziness that’s just hard to find with anything other than an old favorite. But every now and then, something special happens and a new book comes along and evokes this same sense of peace. And while it’s a rare thing for a totally new and unknown book to feel like home, that’s what Akata Witch was for me.

While born in NYC, our twelve-year-old protagonist Sunny, now lives in Nigeria with her family. Sunny gets made fun of for her albino skin and is struggling to find her way in the world until the day she meets some new friends: Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha. But these aren’t just any kids, they are Leopard people – people of mystical, true ability; sometimes referred to as witches in the Western world – and they believe Sunny is one of them too.

Through a series of trainings and quests, the four children learn how to harness their different powers through juju. But when the Lamb (non-magic) world mixes with the Leopard world through terrifying reports of a Leopard serial killer on the loose, Sunny and her friends find out the stakes of them controlling their powers has never been higher because they might be the key to the killer’s demise.

I loved the friendship in this story. All four kids were so unique and brought out something different in each other, similar to the characters in Avatar the Last Airbender. I also loved just how accessibly developed this world was. It is such a detailed world, and yet I never felt overwhelmed by exposition or unnecessary information. Okorafor gives us exactly what we need to know, when we need to know it. 

There’s something to be found in Akata Witch for so many different kinds of people. It’s about standing up for yourself and others. It’s about learning how you handle critical life moments. It’s about trusting your friends completely. And with all that, it’s a really cozy and mysterious fantasy. 

And as a quick soapbox moment, I’d like to address something near and dear to my hear that Akata Witch helped remedy. After working in children’s literature for several years, I’ve noticed a group of individuals that often get left out when books are made: kids in the 12-14 year old range. These kids often feel too old for middle grade and a little too young for some young adult. But then a book like this comes along and tada! It’s perfect! Akata Witch is a perfect book to help bridge that gap that often exists between middle grade and YA. So I would argue this fact alone is an amazing gold star to add to this book’s already incredible resume.

I can’t wait to read the next books in the series and I truly read this just in time because the third book, Akata Woman only just came out last week!

If you'd like to learn more about or read AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor, please click here.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published