Book Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Genre/Subgenre: Fantasy & Supernatural Mysteries / YA
The Nitty Gritty: Sunny is at the center of the story. She’s set apart from her Nigerian classmates because she was born in America and is bullied for being an albino, and often feels isolated and alone. It turns out there’s more that separates Sunny from her classmates than her skin color, and what she learns about herself propels her journey.
Ideal Audience: YA readers; fans of supernatural mysteries
Strengths: Nnedi Okorafor delves into Nigerian culture and takes the readers on a cultural and mythical journey. While Akata Witch is very much about Sunny’s journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, it’s also about stopping a murderer who’s killing children.
Hot Take: One of the things about Akata Witch that stood out to me was how realistic it felt. That may sound like an odd thing to say about a book categorized as fantasy and supernatural mystery, but it’s the moments between the major events I’m referring to. There are exchanges between parents and children, moments of self-reflection, and times when a girl just needs to sit down and do her homework. Once Sunny learns she’s one of the Leopard People, the story centers on her Leopard People education, but Sunny still has to deal with problems at home and at school peppered throughout. This fleshed Sunny’s world out, and showed how challenging it would be to have a secret identity while living at home with your family.
Okorafor also explores issues surrounding family secrecy and acceptance. As the only person in her family who belongs to the Leopard People, Sunny can’t tell her family what she’s doing. Her parents have suspicions because of some family secrets they’re keeping, and her father seems to resent her. Sunny has to learn to love and accept herself for who she is and also learn to see that being an albino is a blessing, not a curse. Her learning curve intersects with a series of child murders in a compelling way. The story kept me on my toes with some interesting twists and turns, and lays the foundation for an interesting series about Sunny and her friends.
Book Score: 4 stars
Cover Score: 5 stars
Trigger Warnings: child death, corporal punishment