by Nnedi Okorafor
* * * * * Stars (Amazing!)
Sunny is a young albino American-Nigerian who has been living in Nigeria since her mother had a premonition that something bad was going to happen to her if she stayed in the States. Her father never wanted a daughter and certainly never wanted to go back to Nigeria, so he holds a grudge against her. When Sunny’s classmate, Orlu, introduces her to Chichi (a Nimm princess), Sunny begins to discover her true heritage as a Leopard person. Late to her knowledge and late to her powers (all Leopard people have some sort of magical ability), Sunny is struggling to learn as much as she can before she and her friends are called upon to perform a great service and save the world from an adept who has dabbled too much in evil juju.
I suspect that Okorafor was able to draw on her own Igbo (Nigerian) cultural tradition in her creation of Akata Witch. It’s all new to me, so I found this very refreshing, incredibly original, and absolutely riveting. There’s also a comfortable familiarity – a secret magic society, magical instruction, a group of kids sent to fight the greatest evil their people have known – it’s a bit reminiscent of Harry Potter, but with a dramatic change of scenery (and a more reasonable page count). Loved this.
Reviewed by YA Librarian