A review by bklassen
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

adventurous dark mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Akata Witch is a wonderful blend of old and new – if I wanted to be more reductive, it did feel like a Harry Potter or Percy Jackson book (The only 2 magical kids book series that come to mind, or at least ones I read growing up) in that there is a group of kids who become friends, embark on a dangerous journey as KIDS, learn magic, etc. Of course, the main character of the group has to be new to the world so they can learn along with the reader. There was even a scene with the juju knife choosing the Leopard Person, much like Harry’s wand choosing him. 

However, Akata Witch stands out in a multitude of ways. It introduces many cool and unique ideas in a pretty standardized genre of “magical coming of age” stories. For one, it pulls on Nigerian mythology, which I have never learned about, but it was really cool. I loved all the different facets of life of the Leopard People, Sunny’s complex history/ancestors, the magical items and elements, and the Zuma Festival was a particular highlight. I loved reading about a different magic system/culture/mythology that hasn't been done a million times over, and I really enjoyed the story. 

I also really enjoyed the darker elements that Akata Witch brought, because this world is dangerous, and the preteens needed to understand that. The complications for performing magic beyond their skill level is severe, and the punishments for breaking rules that could cause harm to you or Lambs (aka nonmagical folk, muggles, everyday people, etc) is harsh. 

My only complaints, which are quite mild, are that I’d love to see more of the characters’ personalities and the final act. 

While I do feel like I got a good sense of base characteristics of the 4 main kids (Orlu is a shy and steadfast rule follower; Sasha is tough, arrogant, and likes to push boundaries; Chichi is headstrong, flirtatious, and confident; and Sunny is curious, a little lost, and passionate), I did feel like I didn’t have as strong of an idea in my head of who exactly they were. I’m looking forward to getting to know the characters more in later books! 

The final act comes on quickly, like an afterthought, and is resolved quickly and rather anticlimactically. Of course, I’m a sucker for origin stories and worldbuilding, so I would have been fine with a book that introduces us to this world and sets up a bigger fight in a later book, but it didn’t feel like it ruined the book. I’m sure Okorafor has much more planned in the later 2 books, which I am excited to read!