Review: “Akata Witch” and “Akata Warrior” by Nnedi Okorafor

AkataWitch-feat1

Release Date: April 14, 2011, October 3, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Series: Akata Witch #1-2
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy

Description

Akata Witch

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?” (via Goodreads)

Akata Warrior

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.” (via Goodreads)

My Thoughts

AkataWitch-cover1Akata Witch and Akata Warrior are frequently referred to as the Nigerian Harry Potter. Sure, she’s a Chosen One brimming with powerful ancestral magic who was raised in the non-magical world. And yes, her destiny is to battle a great evil with the help of her generous friends. But in Sunny’s story there’s a realness and harsh earnestness that HP lacks. Leopard People aren’t unforgiving but won’t let a crime go unpunished. Death and pain lurk in the shadows of her world, not just in the form of her nemesis but in everyday life. Africa is a continent marred by colonialism and exploitation; to build a magical world on that foundation is to imbue it with hardship. But the Akata Witch series isn’t dour and dark. Hope and happiness win out every time. Life is worth living because even in the darkest times, friends and family make everything better. Magic doesn’t make Sunny’s world better, it just changes the way she engages with it…

Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.

I’ve always been fascinated by candles. Looking into the flame calms me down. Here in Nigeria, PHC is always taking the lights, so I keep candles in my room just in case.

PHC stands for “Power Holding Company of Nigeria,” but people like to say it really stands for “Please Hold Candles in Nigeria.” Back in Chicago we had National Grid, and the electricity was always working. Not here, though. Not yet. Maybe in the future.

One night, after the power went out, I lit a candle as usual. Then, also as usual, I got down on the floor and just gazed at its flame.

My candle was white and thick, like the ones in church.

I lay on my belly and just stared and stared into it. So orange, like the abdomen of a firefly. It was nice and soothing until . . . it started flickering.

Then, I thought I saw something. Something serious and big and scary. I moved closer.

The candle just flickered like any other flame. I moved even closer, until the flame was an inch from my eyes. I could see something. I moved closer still. I was almost there. I was just starting to understand what I saw when the flame kissed something above my head. Then the smell hit me and the room was suddenly bright yellow orange! My hair was on fire!

I screamed and smacked my head as hard as I could. My burning hair singed my hand. Next thing I knew, my mother was there. She tore off her rapa and threw it over my head.

The electricity suddenly came back on. My brothers ran in, then my father. The room smelled awful. My hair was half gone and my hands were tender.

Thanks to Arthur A. Levine for sending me a review copy.

Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.

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