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What Sunny Saw in the Flames

(Akata Witch #1)

by
4.06  ·  Rating details ·  22,524 ratings  ·  3,938 reviews
What Sunny Saw in the Flames transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, thirteen-year-old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino. Her eyes are so sensitive to the sun that she has to wait until evening to play football. Apart from being good at the beautiful game, she has a specia ...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published November 2013 by Cassava Republic Press (first published April 14th 2011)
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Sunshine Jones I think this is a clear case of why it's so important to read beyond a book's title page. Despite the racial slur in its title, I was required to read…moreI think this is a clear case of why it's so important to read beyond a book's title page. Despite the racial slur in its title, I was required to read Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane in high school. I assume the book was selected because whoever designed the curriculum could recognize that the author's intent was not to offend, but rather to honestly depict his experience. In the case of Akata Witch, it is clear from my reading that the author's intent was not to offend Black Americans but rather to honestly portray the difficulty of fitting neatly into poorly demarcated racial/national hierarchies.

But I also think we have no business trying to determine what could or couldn't possibly be offensive to others - that should be up to the reader and if it offends them they are welcome to stop reading. (less)
Ruth Fitts I think of this as young adult...not that there is anything inappropriate for a younger child, but I would recommend it for 12 & up. …moreI think of this as young adult...not that there is anything inappropriate for a younger child, but I would recommend it for 12 & up. (less)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  22,524 ratings  ·  3,938 reviews


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Rick Riordan
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent the weekend with a great book: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. As you can guess, I’m a sucker for all kinds of mythology, and this middle grade/YA fantasy is steeped in the myth and magic of Nigeria.

Our main character is Sunny, a twelve-year-old girl born in the U.S. but recently moved to her parents’ homeland of Nigeria. Sunny stands out in more ways than one – she’s albino, she’s a prodigy at soccer, and she’s teased at school for being an akata (literally a ‘wild animal’) because she i
...more
Miranda Reads
description

We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities.
Sunny was born in New York, but recently moved back to her homeland (Aba, Nigeria) and that transition has not been easy.

She's bullied for her "American-ness", her weirdness and above all, for her skin, she's an albino African American.

All Sunny wants is to do what other, normal, twelve-year-olds can do - play soccer in the sun, laugh with a bun
...more
Cristina Monica
I was hooked from prologue to epilogue.

Not only is it a refreshing piece of literature that will appeal to fantasy fans and those who are looking for more culture + magic in their reads, it is so much more surprising, structured and well written than Binti from the same author, so definitely do not let that one influence whether you give this a chance or not.

Sunny is albino, which is just her luck since she wishes she could play soccer. But when Sunny is introduced to a secret society of ‘‘juju
...more
J.L.   Sutton
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What is really compelling about Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch wasn't the plot (which is solid), but the sense that you were reading about a totally different magical world which exists alongside a reality which is equally unfamiliar (in Nigeria). Okorafor draws from Nigerian folk beliefs and rituals, and lets us into this world little by little as our protagonist discovers her own unique abilities. Some reviewers have compared the novel to J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book and (in terms of t ...more
Samantha
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TW: brief mentions of child abuse; some fatphobic language

I listened to this on audio and it was so immersive. This was a unique magic system based in Nigerian folklore. Our MC was raised in America but has lived in Nigeria for years. This story explores themes of ethnicity and race, belonging, ancestry, and sexism. This book did struggle with some pacing issues and the characters not always feeling as young as they were supposed to be. But overall, I enjoyed this story and world, and I plan to
...more
Bradley
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-shelf, fantasy, ya
What can I say? It felt very much like book one of Harry Potter in terms of plot and situation, only milder and set in Nigeria.

It shouldn't have felt milder. Objectively, there were child mutilations and a serial murderer on the loose. And there wasn't some gigantic castle with enchantments up to protect the students. So theoretically, if I were one of these four kids, I'd be creaming my pants.

Brushing that aside, the setting is deeply fascinating to me, with magics very tied to the place and cu
...more
Taryn
Twelve-year-old Sunny's family moved from the United States to their native Nigeria when she was nine years old. Even though her family is originally from Nigeria, Sunny is always an outsider amongst her schoolmates. She's American by birth and albino, both traits that make her a target for bullies. When she has a terrifying vision of the end of the world, she discovers yet another quality that sets her apart from the rest of the community. She's a Leopard, a person with magical abilities. With ...more
megs_bookrack
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Nnedi Okorafor's, Akata Witch, is an absolute treat for any YA or Middle Grade Reader who loves a magic school trope.



I was blown away by how invested I became in this story. The lore, the action and the relationships were all beautifully done.

Sunny, a 12-year old albino girl, who recently moved from New York City to Aba, Nigeria, has a difficult time fitting in.

When people look at her, they seem to immediately pass judgement because she looks different.



At school, there a
...more
Kim Miner Litton
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
So torn on this one about giving it a 3 or 4 star rating.

Pros: Love that the story is set in Africa, with African and African American main characters, as well as an albino. Also, it goes the Percy Jackson route of explaining that what we call "learning disabilities" like ADD and dyslexia, are just bi-products of their uniqueness as magicians. The world building is fantastic. We often see magic from a European point of view and it was really cool to see this fresh take.

Cons: When I was told that
...more
Laurie  Anderson
BRILLIANT fantasy set in Nigeria and a fantasy world unlike any I've ever read before! Great world-building, character development and imagery! Hoping that this is a series with many, many installments because I want to journey back!
D
Nov 20, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for an interesting example of non-Eurocentric worldbuilding, then pick up this book. If you're looking for a good plot and sound characterisation, you can probably find better.

In terms of setting, this book is fantastic: it's interesting, different and a nice change from the super-Euro default setting of most urban fantasy novels. The world-building, although we're not shown much outside of the character's immediate area, is fantastic and gives a good impression of what the glo
...more
Charlotte

"The ones with attitude have the best light.”

So What’s It About? (from Goodreads)

"Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in
...more
Melanti
Sorry, I wish I liked this but I don't. I normally love Okorafor's writing, but this particular one is terribly written and poorly edited.

I really enjoyed the setting (Nigeria) and use of African culture and magic, but it really suffers from being too formulaic and derivative - it takes a huge number of its plot points from Harry Potter. Don't get me wrong, I loved Harry Potter, but I don't think this one did its own thing nearly enough.

For instance, the Leopard (wizard) kids took a magic train
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
After seeing the author read from what will be Akata Witch #2, I realized I had overlooked a book I should seek out. Akata Witch soon pulled itself ahead of the other books in my tbr pile.

If you like books about magic, particularly teens finding out they have special abilities, learning to use them, and building a community with others like them, this is the book for you. Added to those well-loved tropes is a new landscape with new traditions and rules. Setting it in Nigeria, with Igbo people b
...more
Arlene
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: african lit lovers, ya lovers, witchcraft and wizard lovers
5 Damn Stars!

THIS WAS SOOO GOOD!!!

Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this up, but it didn't take me long to realize what a gem I had stumbled upon.

Okay so Sunny is an albino girl, of 12-ish, and she gets a glimpse of what is to happen in her world, but she isn't all the way sure of what she saw in the flames that night (not a spoiler, it's in the prologue). Normally she is reduced to name calling, being left out, picked on all because, kids are cruel, and albinism is not looked
...more
Mari

This was House Salt's July book club read. Check out our live show here.

3.5 stars

Things that worked: I went on a whole journey with the fact that this is usually compared to Harry Potter. On the one hand, I hate that we overuse HP as a comp title, especially for fantasy written by non-white authors. On the other hand, there were a lot of times that while reading this reminded me of Harry Potter. And because I'm writing this is 2020, when lots of people are looking to replace those books in some
...more
Sarah
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I sincerely adored this novel. It's definitely geared towards a younger crowd, but I think it was the perfect palate cleanser after finishing Liu Cixin's Three Body Problem series.

It's set in Nigeria, and bounces back and forth between what seems like a smallish country village and a larger village set in the jungle. It's both lush and gritty. You get a sense of the dust in the air, the heat, the plant and insect life. The characters are unique, their voices believable. Sunny especially, I was i
...more
Sarah Marie
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

First in the Akata Witch series

4.5 stars

"Lies are a thing of the physical world. They can't exist in the spirit world."

Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born in America. She is both Nigerian and American. An outsider who belongs. Sunny is different from her family in more ways than one. She’s albino, but she has also seen the end of the world in the flame of a candle. She’s a free agent— a Leopard Person who is not from a family of Leopard People. She has no knowl

...more
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell
*COMES INTO YOUR MENTIONS LIKE A RECCING BALL*

Hi everyone this book is on sale for $2.99 right now, so if you like me were waiting for a price drop, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE

Edit: This is going to be my next read after I finish WOLF OF OREN-YARO. I actually cheated and read about 25% of it already and I really like it. Don't be worried by the comparisons to Harry Potter, that's really not the best. It's more like THE MAGICIANS, but set in Nigeria, and the characters are actually likable.

Also, people ha
...more
Uche Ogbuji
I'll just quote fromt he conclusion of my TNB review:

What I personally love best about the novel is how well it plays on the confusion of identities that affect so many Nigerians, especially those who've split time between Nigeria and the U.S. or Europe as children. I certainly remember returning from America to Nigeria at the age of ten, after seven years abroad, and encountering hostility and ridicule as an outsider, feeling as if I didn't really belong on any of the three continents I'd calle

...more
Kiera
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Young Adult novel set in Nigeria follows Sunny who was born in New York and looks African but is albino. Sunny feels like she doesn't fit in. Untill her friends Orlu and Chichi reveal that they have magical abilities, and so does Sunny. But Sunny and her friends have been asked to track down a serial killer who's abilities are much stronger than theirs.

I am in love with this story.

It felt kind of Harry Potter-ish, if Harry was a girl and the story was set in Nigeria. The whole thing with b
...more
Diana
Jul 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: discarded-shelf
EDIT: I tried again but DNF'ed at page 83. I feel as disconcerted as Sunny because I feel like there's all this info dump, and all that craziness about thr Leopard people and the society (buildings, schools, etc) hiding behind a bridge, and I don't know, I just couldn't take the leap of faith required to follow the story because I felt no conexion to the characters or to the story itself. Instead it all seemed kinda rushed to me, like instead of taking its time to ease the reader into the story ...more
Justine
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
I really enjoyed this. One of the things I love about Okorafor's writing is the unique voice she brings to her stories. Her characters come alive easily for the reader, and they are all so individual and unique.

Aside from anything else, this book does a great job delving into questions of identity. Although this is a typical theme for YA stories, it is also one that seems particularly important here. Sunny is confronted with understanding herself from many sides: her place as an American born N
...more
Book Riot Community
Born in New York City, but living in Nigeria, twelve-year-old Sunny feels like she’s straddling two worlds. This becomes even more true when she discovers her magical abilities and enters the world of Leopard people. This book is one of the most original and woke fantasy stories I’ve ever read. It openly discusses bullying, racism, beauty standards, police brutality in the United States, and greed. All month I’ve been recommending this book to everyone I meet, kids and adults alike.

— Alison Dohe
...more
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: school libraries, libraries, movie companies
(Full Review at http://www.craftyscribbles.com)

Okay. Let's discuss the elephant in the room. Akata Witch has been nicknamed the African (Nigerian) Harry Potter. While there are some influences, overall this story respects the cultural magic realism hailing from Nigeria and other African countries. Hate to break this truth to some readers, but J.K. Rowling doesn't hold the copyright to magical realism in books, particularly when you see cultural aspects she nicked for her stories. But, we'll save
...more
Mili
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-the-book
I wasnt sure what to expect of Akata Witch. The title and cover tugged at me so bad, they are awesome! This is a middle grade series that works for all ages in my opinion. Im so glad I picked it up :D All thanks to Bookstagram~

Nnedi Okorafor creates a magical world where you follow a group of kids that form a strong friendship. And slowly you get to learn the magical culture of Nigeria. The country has beautiful names. And I loved that she used, I think, Nigerian words to describe things. It ha
...more
Auntie Terror
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-urban
The final standoff was surprisingly short - but somehow I feel that that wasn't the main point of the book anyway. ;-) [prtf]
Amerie
Phenomenal. Rich and cozy with that “it” quality that makes a book stay with you for a very long time. Highly recommend.
ALet
dnf
it's definitely not a bad book, but i just lost interest
Connor
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[3.5 Stars. 4 Stars?]
When I first finished this, my gut reaction was to give it 4 stars. I enjoyed seeing Sunny learn about magic and herself as she's thrust into this high-stakes world of Leopard people and dangerous foes. I liked that this magical world is quite dangerous and the adults of this world don't try to coddle the children. I thought how magic manifested in each Leopard person was really interesting because it always had to do with some perceived fault which turned out to be one of t
...more
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10,726 followers
Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based project ...more

Other books in the series

Akata Witch (2 books)
  • Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2)

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When you work at Goodreads, it's pretty tough to keep that Want to Read shelf under control. (And let's be honest, most of us don't even...
162 likes · 44 comments
“We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities.” 40 likes
“Prejudice begets prejudice, you see. Knowledge does not always evolve into wisdom.” 39 likes
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