Clark Carlton's Reviews > Akata Witch

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Dec 22, 2011

really liked it
Read from December 22, 2011 to January 18, 2012

Reading this book at times felt like I had ingested psychedelics as it is just so druggy in its effect, or as the author might put it, I was under the influence of some strong, strong juju. The imagination here is staggering. I cannot give it five stars because it does echo Harry Potter in both plot and circumstances, something it acknowledges in describing the different magic centers of the world(full disclosure: I wrote my own tale of an adolescent sorcerer who learns his father was killed by an evil wizard years before Ms. Rowling launched her series -- so perhaps Nnedi hatched this a while ago as well).

I also felt that some of the middle chapters were interesting enough but were more episodic and less integral to the plot. In building this strange new world, the narrative is sometimes slowed with overly intricate explanations and then it speeds too fast to a climax that is visually spectacular but somewhat abrupt.

Largely I was in an emotional grip, wanting to jump into the action and help Sunny. I read that J.K. Rowling decided that the hero of her book should not be a heroine for commercial reasons. Ms. Okorafor has done the opposite with spectacular, unexpected results by choosing a protagonist who is not just female but an albino African who is also an "akata", a black person who is half American. The settings are just as complex, mixing in different streams of African culture in both a painterly and musical way. I was expecting something lighter but this is a fairly uncensored world. Narrative does not make much use of sex but author does include a serial child killer as a part of her plot and Sunny has a father who does not refrain from the corporal punishment of his children.

I was surprised over and over again by this novel's strange and vivid imagery, none if it that I want to mention to avoid spoiling it for another reader. It has a lot of insects in that were especially appealing to me, including a wasp who offers a daily sculpture.


Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Akata Witch.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

12/27/2011 page 50
show 4 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Damali (new)

Damali hmm...let me know if this is silly, because I have no patience for silly. It looks interesting though! :D

Clark Carlton It starts off very well -- fantastic, exotic setting, very fresh and well, kind of druggy! And now it's turning into something very much like an African Harry Potter!

message 3: by Damali (new)

Damali I think I'm the only person in the world who doesn't like HP. :D

Clark Carlton LOL.

Weirdly, a year before HP came out, I wrote a screenplay called The Sorceror's Protege. It was about a boy who bears a pentagram shaped mark and learns from the town doctor that he is the son of a wizard. The doctor is also a wizard, and takes on the boy as his "apprentice" and then they decide that word is antiquated, so he becomes his protege. The boy, in becoming a wizard, must always hide his identity and must use his increasing magic powers to help others and fight evil, and always in secret. Later, he learns his dead father was slayed by an evil wizard who has been trapped in another dimension and wants to come back to the Earth, kill the boy and make Earth a haven for the other evil wizards. Before the boy has a chance to complete his learning, the evil wizard comes to challenge him on the day the town has its annual parade/football game, the same day that the boy's spells go out of control and thousands of lawnmowers the size of buses break loose.

The boy had a pet flying dragon (that was also one of the family of Loch Ness monsters) he kept in his pocket that grew to a thousand times its size and he also got to know the tiny tooth fairies who lived in a city made of human teeth.

My agent sent it around and said everyone liked the writing but that "there was no market for fantasy". A year later, some friends of mine who were being considered to write the screenplay for HP called me to tell me they had just read this book about a boy sorcerer and "it's so much like that screenplay you wrote". Ugh.

My wizard did not go to a school for magic, but he did attend school and also seminars where wizards from all the different planets would convene to share the latest in magic. So that's one of many reasons why I wrote Ghost Ants as a novel.

message 5: by Damali (new)

Damali I would hate for that to happen. But I guess it's true when they say there are no unique ideas.

I'm surprised little people haven't been used more in movies and novels. Lands of the Giants was very well done, considering the special effects they had to work with, and I had to watch Honey, I Shrunk the Kids as I was reading your novel. :D And, of course, The Twilight Zone has done a few episodes on it. But that's about it.

Clark Carlton I've never seen it, but there is Darby O'Gill and the Little People and Gulliver's Travels.

I bought Akata Witch for my niece but then I started reading it -- so she will be getting it for her birthday now!

back to top