Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Talk - AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor

AKATA WITCH is one of those books that makes you realize you've been viewing everything through Harry Potter tinted glasses for awhile.  I'm going to say that up front because once I start explaining the plot you'll think, "Oh, Harry Potter set in Nigeria, I get it." To which I'd have to say, "Uh, that's like saying GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is James Patterson set in Sweden." What's the difference? Voice distinctions and cultural framework.

Sunny is an albino Nigerian who was born in New York City. When her parents return to their home country Sunny doesn't fit in for a lot of reasons. 1) She's an albino 2) She's perceived as an American and 3) She keeps seeing the end of the world inside candle flames.

Sunny is smart enough to keep this information to herself, but her odd qualities draw the attention of Orlu and Chichi, fellow students at her public school who are Leopard People (magical folk) and suspect Sunny may be as well. Although years behind in training and study, Sunny is distinct even in the magical realm of Leopard Knocks. She's a "free agent," a Leopard person born of two non-magical parents.

And no, Leopard Knocks isn't Hogwarts. Not even close. Instead of flying around on broomsticks and throwing balls through hoops the adult champions of this magical realm fight each other to the death in a yearly entertainment spectacle. The winner is the winner, the loser is... a saint. And going to your next class isn't as simple as looking at your schedule and manipulating moving staircases. The path to their teacher's hut is a test in itself, one that could kill them if not traveled properly. This is a place where group work is rewarded by everyone surviving to the next day and your juju knife chooses you not by obeying your commands but by slicing your hand open when you reach into a bag.

So why are children being subjected to these tests? To drive them into a sacred bond, as they have been selected by fate to bring down a serial killer. Black Hat Otokoto has been kidnapping Nigerian children and returning them minus eyes and ears. He's gathering black magic to him in order to call up a dark spirit whose power will unleash the vision that Sunny has seen in the candles. Sunny has a limited amount of time to harness the power she's inherited through her Grandmother's spirit line to stop him from succeeding and bringing about the end of the world.

4 comments:

Angie Sandro said...

Ooh, this sounds fantastic!!! Thanks for the review.

Kelsey Jordan said...

I agree, now I have to find it and give it a whirl.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Thanks girls, trust me you won't be sorry. And check out Nnedi's site (www.nnedi.com) for info on her other titles and biographical info. AKATA WITCH is the only title of hers I have read yet, but the TBR just got bigger.

A.M.Supinger said...

OoOh! Cool!