Leopards. Lambs. Juju. A Serial Killer. Mentors. Masquerades. Uniqueness.
While Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor is a young adult fantasy novel aimed at the preteen crowd, I still found it enjoyable to read. I liked the setting of Nigeria. I liked all the feel-good elements: celebrating your uniqueness, working together as a group, finding a mentor, uncovering your true identity and talents.
Briefly, Sunny is a twelve year old girl who was born in the United States and moved to her parents’ native country of Nigeria. She is taunted and bullied by her classmates because she is an albino. She is befriended by Orlu, with whom she becomes friends. She then becomes friends with Orlu’s friend, Chichi, who helps her discover who she really is, a Leopard Person, a person with magical abilities. Along with Sasha, an American boy, they are taken under the wing of a Leopard teacher and taught Leopard ways. Finally, as a group, they are given the task of defeating Black Hat, who has been murdering children so that he can perform powerful magic.
Akata Witch is well written. Nnedi Okorafor creates a fascinating spirit world. While much of the story is upbeat, it does deal with some dark elements of life. This is definitely a book I would recommend for a preteen.