Book Review: Akata Witch by Need Okorafor

Audiobook Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Posted August 15, 2022 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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Akata Witch

Akata Witch

by Nnedi Okorafor

Series: The Nsibidi Scripts #1
Publisher: Viking Children's on April 14, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Representation: Albinism, BIPOC Authors, BIPOC Character(s), Black Authors, Black Character(s), Disability Representation, Nigerian Characters(s), Nigerian-American Authors, Nigerian-American Character(s)
Content Warnings: Abandonment, Ableism, Blood, Body Shaming, Bullying, Child Abuse, Child Death, Death, Injury, Murder, Sexism

Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she has albinism. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing-she is a "free agent" with latent mystical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal well-versed in powerful juju?


Akata Witch is the tale of a world within a world and a girl who doesn’t know her heritage or the mysterious power it brings. This sort of story may sound familiar, but at every opportunity Okorafor departs from the expected to build a magical coming-of-age story that is entirely its own. Sunny and her friends are given an impossible task, are immersed in an impossible world and it is beguiling, beautiful, and mesmerizing. I think it might be one of my favorite magical YA settings ever.

Let’s start with Sunny. First of all, Sunny proves that it’s possible to have an extraordinary destiny without being an orphan. She is exceptional in some ways – as most protagonists are. The most obvious is these is her albinism. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of another book featuring a protagonist with albinism, and a Black person at that. I applaud Okorafor for her choice! But Sunny’s albinism is about more that representation. There’s an empowering reason for it in the story and that matters most of all.  Sunny is never defined by any of her individual traits, even though they weigh on her at times. Okorafor does an excellent job guiding her protagonist through a journey of self-discovery.

Sunny, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha are a dynamic group and it’s fun to follow their journey. I appreciated the use of mentors and I appreciated the separate shining personalities. I didn’t feel we had too many tropes among them, and those that tried to surface were pushed aside. These characters are defined by themselves, not the role they play in the book, and that’s fantastic. It’s refreshing to see a group with a purpose, rather than an individual with a destiny.

I adore Okorafor’s writing. In Akata Witch, I especially appreciated  her use of weather. Rain, sun, storm – all of them bring so much to the story’s atmosphere in a way I appreciate with most books, but am astounded with here. The climatic scene near the end of the book was astounding and immersive and I was enthralled. There are some writers who are so talented at atmospheric writing that from the first few sentences, you are transported. Okorafor is one of those authors.

Akata Witch is a fantastic dive into magic from a non-Western European perspective. The action scenes have amazing pacing, the characters jump off the page, and the writing is vibrant. I enjoyed this book so much – it’s definitely destined for my personal library. I’d recommend folks look past the ages of the main quartet – this book never felt catered to younger readers – and dive in. It’s wonderful.

Setting

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Pacing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Personal Enjoyment

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Plot

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Writing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Narrator

Rating: 5 out of 5.
send me your thoughts

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If so, did you enjoy it? If not, what would you do differently?

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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Other Books by Nnedi Okorafor

3 books found
Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

★★★★★

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

★★★★★

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

★★★★★


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