This week is my on-campus session for Fantasy Lit, and because the professor gives us the class prior to the on-campus meeting and the class after, she crams six books into our required reading for this one day. So post number forty-nine is one of those books: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. I had never heard of this book before, although the reviews I've read of it were absolutely raving, and rightfully so. This was a really fantastic book.
I want to talk about a few things, and will try not to get too terribly spoilery in terms of the plot. But I'll put a spoiler space all the same.
The main character in this story is Sunny, who is the youngest child (and only daughter) of a Nigerian couple. Sunny, however, was born in the US, so she feels like she's between two worlds. The Nigerian term for a black born outside of Nigeria is "akata", hence the title. Sunny is also albino, so she gets picked on a lot for being ugly, and they use the term "akata" as an insult to her. However, Sunny befriends Orlu, a boy at her school, who in turn introduces her to Chichi, and they all three become friends. It is through Chichi and Orlu that Sunny is taught about the Leopard People: people who practice magic, or juju. It turns out that Sunny is what they call a Free Agent, which means she has juju that isn't passed through her bloodline. Orlu then introduces Chichi and Sunny to Sasha, a boy from the US who has been sent to Nigeria as punishment for some acts of juju that he used on some boys who were picking on his sister. The four of them become friends, and are ultimately told that they're to be a coven which are coming together to fight a great evil.
I don't want to spoil any more of the plot than that, but I have a few other thoughts. First of all, this book was incredibly well-paced; it was a page-turner from the very first words, and I absolutely loved the characters, especially Sunny (who is the narrator and therefore everything is from her pov although the book is written in third person) and Orlu, who are most likely going to end up hooking up in some form or fashion. The book sets itself up for a sequel, which the author said in an interview that she's working on, so I'm really excited about that.
The other obvious thing is that this book is very different from other fantasy books, most notably because the characters are all people of color, and the book is set in Nigeria; it's about as far away from US Urban Fantasy as you can get, and it is seriously fantastic. I highly recommend this book.