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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Affectionately dubbed "the Nigerian Harry Potter," Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one's place in the world. Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. 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 s…

Akata Witch (Akata Witch #1)

by Nnedi Okorafor

Overall Book Review:

Author Nnedi Okorafor brandishes magical realism with the age old-tale of embracing differences and working together in, Akata Witch (Akata Witch #1), but she doesn’t stop there; add in some juju, and you have a young adult fantasy that is off the charts spicy!

Protagonist, 12-year-old Sunny is a complete juxtaposition. Born in the United States and now living in Nigeria, her classmates tease her because she’s American; even more difficult, she is also an albino with West-African features. These distinctions don’t hinder Sunny’s character though; smart and full of spirit, Sunny takes on her bullies with gusto.

Managing feeling like an outsider leads Sunny to engage in some unusual friendships that entertainingly and haphazardly introduce her to an ancient secret society full of magic!  Brimming with action and blended with elements of West-African mythology the author wondrously captivates readers with this fun and funky folklore.

A disappointing anti-climactic ending still can’t quell my excitement for the next installment in the series, Akata Warrior (Akata Witch #2).

A perfect pick for readers who revel in magical adventures, but are bored with the conventional Euro-fantasy repertoire.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 12 religious exclamations; 17 mild obscenities; 5 religious profanities; 2 derogatory names; 3 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms.

Violence/Gore:  Character accidentally burns their hair and fingers with fire; character sees a vision in which the world ends violently; report of serious sickness; report of massacre; few comical instances in which character has the urge to be violent; few occurrences of comical violence; teacher instructs student to hit classmates; teacher hits students; children beat-up fellow classmate in school yard brawl, mention of blood and injuries; handful of news briefings reporting on adult abducting, maiming, and murdering children; teens/children cut their tongues to form a pact; report of character getting into fights at school; threat of fantasy creature; report of child abuse occurring in some villages; parent slaps and threatens child; report of attempted robbery (2x) with knives and guns; character receives gash on arm; characters are attacked by fantasy creatures, receive mild injuries; few times child is threatened with a beating by a parent; extended scene (about ½ page) newspaper report of child victims found tortured by serial killer; extended scene (about 2 pages) school yard fight between girls, mention of injuries; drawing depicting violent act; report of family member being murdered; report of character being caned as punishment; accidental cut; mention of character’s injury from a car accident; extended scene (about 3 pages) characters battle physically and with magic, results in injury and death; characters play sport roughly causing minor injuries; mention of death by bee sting; characters receive many bug bites; character conjures scary, threatening fantasy creature; report of theft; teen character is punished by authorities with violence causing injuries; discussion of kidnapping and possible outcome if children are not found; extended scene (about 9 pages) children fight adult in physical and magical battle resulting in injuries and non-detailed violent death; speculation about killing/murder; parent attempts beating their child. 

Sex/Nudity: Character describes certain men as perverted; talk of nudity (non-sexual); teens flirt (2x); single unwed mother; man has more than one wife; woman has many boyfriends; woman has a reputation for being with more than one man; mention of woman’s breasts (non-sexual); few (about 5) brief instances in which teens kiss on lips or cheek; character’s father and mother never married.

Mature Subject Matter:

Serial kidnapper/murdering/maiming of children/ritualistic killing(s)/death, magic. 

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes; teens buy and smoke cigarettes; teens drink a mildly alcoholic drink; comment on drugs; herbs and powders are used in magical rituals; a joke is made about using steroids.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.