Akata Witch reminds me a little bit of both Harry Potter and the Young Wizards series. It manages to do this despite the part where Akata Witch is not actually like either except in the very vaguest ways. (I have to say some of it also reminds me of Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s books.) This book is one of your “young person discovers that magic exists and learns to use it,being moderately to extremely heroic along the way,” type novels and is atypically typical of the sub-genre.
Our Heroine is an American-born girl named Sunny whose parents moved back to Nigeria. She has some trouble fitting in because of this, and also because she is an albino. She makes friends with other children who turn out to be magic users, and it turns out that she also possesses magical abilities. Because no one in her immediate family possesses magic, she is what the magic users refer to as a “free agent.” Free agents are somewhat looked down upon by other magic users (who call themselves “Leopard People,”) which causes her to still have problems fitting in.
(The first parts of the novel contain excerpts of a book that had been written to“help” free agents navigate Leopard culture. Said book spends a lot of time trying to discourage the free agent from actually using their powers or even interacting with Leopard society. This is one of the aspects that somewhat reminded me of the Harry Potter books, the bias against magic users from non-magic using families. Well, that, and the restrictions on magic use and some of the more whimsical accidents that occurred during the learning process.)
Sunny and her friends train together and become a team that is then sent after an evil magic user named Black Hat Otoko who has been committing many brutal murders. His purpose is to raise some variety of evil being and destroy theworld. (This for the most part is what reminded me of Duane’s Young Wizards books. There are a lot of differences, of course but I was still strongly reminded.)
I liked the overall plot and the interactions between the characters as Sunny discovers her abilities. I am a little more ambivalent about how Sunny’s relationship with her father played out. (That is to say, I intensely disliked the father, because of his attitude toward Sunny. I feel there was really no resolution or solution to the conflict between Sunny and her father, and I think a story line like this should have had one, or at least implied one,instead of “my daughter is no better than she should be, blah, blah I am hateful, blah.”) This is a great book with some interesting non-Western magical world building and I really enjoyed reading it.