I really wanted to like Akata Witch, but I just couldn’t. Ironically, the book’s greatest strength is part of why I didn't enjoy it. And that strength was world-building.
This is a modern-day fantasy set in Nigeria. It follows the protagonist, American-born Sunny, and her friends Orlu, Chichi and Sasha as they become students of various wizard teachers and learn about the world of wizards. In other words, think Harry Potter.
The world-building is fun and creative. What a wonderful setting for a fantasy. African cultures and myths provide so much material that there needs to be many more stories set there. It was fascinating and I learned a lot.
Unfortunately, that’s why the book failed for me as well. I’m not a fan of young adult books so perhaps I already had a bias. Regardless, I was so bored throughout most of the book. This book felt like just a set-up for a series. There were a lot of introductions of adult characters and, as I said, a LOT of worldbuilding. There were many scenes that seemed to have little purpose than to explain the magical world and the magic system. That can be great, but there needs to be tension as well. Even though there was a villain, he was a weak presence. He was mentioned a few of times and does some terrible things, but his appearance at the end was quite anti-climactic.
I also thought the four main characters were too simplistic. There was the rebel, the sort-of princess, the good boy, and the spunky main character who has to overcome her own unique challenges. I think their ages ranged from 12 to 14, but they seemed so much older. And, really, would adults really send four teens out to combat an evil sorcerer? Hmmmmm……
Anyway, big disappointment. Great world, but lackluster plot and dull characters.