Book Review: Akata Witch & Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

 

Akata Witch is about the coming of age of Sunny Nwazue, a twelve-year-old Nigerian girl who lives in Aba, Nigeria. Sunny is American-born and an albino, and both these things get her picked on at school, including called ‘akata’, a derogatory term that Nigerians reserve for Africans who are born in foreign lands.

When Sunny is beaten up by bullies, she is defended and befriended by her classmate, a quiet, gentle boy called Orlu. Orlu introduces her to the insolent, sassy Chichi and to Sasha, an angry 15-year-old African-American who’s on an extended visit to Nigeria because his  parents think he needs sorting out.

Through Orlu, Chichi and Sasha Sunny gets to know the world of Leopard Knocks, a hidden village where wonders as well as horrors lurk. Her new friends also help Sunny discover her true self as a Leopard Person, someone with magical abilities. But while they come from Leopard families, Sunny’s parents and brothers are Lambs, non-magical people from whom Sunny must keep her identity a secret.

Akata Witch is largely about Sunny figuring out who she is. The story also establishes that Sunny has a part to play in an important and potentially catastrophic event that she sees in a vision reflected in the flame of a candle. And it makes plain that Sunny functions best when working with Orlu, Chichi and Sasha. Together, they form a coven, their individual powers and unique abilities most potent when united.

In Akata Witch, the four battle Black Hat, a Leopard Person whose thirst for power has led him to work with a malevolent spirit named Ekwensu.

In Akata Warrior, the next book in the series, Sunny must face Ekwensu again at the same time as deal with her role and responsibilities as Leopard Person living with a Lamb family, in a largely Lamb society.Read More »

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Windows and Doors

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Once, many years ago, I knocked on the front door of a stranger’s house just to get a glimpse of what was inside.

Windows and doors hint at and promise so much. They are literal entrances into other worlds.

Someone did answer the door I knocked on, all those years ago, and I seem to remember a dark and empty hallway: Nothing to see, move along, move along. I don’t know what I’d expected. Probably nothing. It was not knowing that spurred me into action. The possibility of what lay behind the polished wooden slats was irresistible. The reality could not help but be a disappointment.

 

 

Review: Water Into Wine by Joyce Chng

WaterintoWine_300WATER INTO WINE

By Joyce Chng

Publisher: Annorlunda Books, ebook

[Some minor spoilers ahead]

Xin inherits a vineyard and decides to embark on a new life (and career), packing up and moving, with her mother and children, to Tertullian VI.

I found the story an easy read, and I was eager to turn its virtual pages as I found Xin an interesting, intriguing character, and I was eager to find out more about her … him?

Sadly, when the book ended I still had lots of questions about the character. Read More »

Review: Dongeng by Anna Tan

Dongeng[This review contains spoilers]

DONGENG

By Anna Tan

Publisher: Pronoun, 214 pages

The prelude to Dongeng by Anna Tan sets the scene and fulfils the promise of the book’s title: This is a story set in the world of fairytales. Sang Kancil makes a brief appearance, confirming that, as the title suggests, the fairytales will be those of the Malay world.

The title also seems to remind us that the world we are about to enter, via the story, is an imaginary one. While we may be expected to suspend our disbelief as we immerse ourselves in Tan’s words, the title stresses that this is a fairy story. Or is it? Certainly, as I read more, I began to see that the book’s title might allude to the doubt and skepticism felt by the novel’s protagonist about what she encounters. Indeed, the title seems also to cheekily reference the reader’s own assumptions that the story being told is pure fantasy.

‘Chapter One’ plunges us into the thick of things: Sara, the protagonist, finds herself in the middle of a forest, on a moss-covered dais no less. A city girl, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, she is immediately aware that something really odd is afoot, and so, one of her first observations is that her handbag has travelled to the forest with her and that nothing in it has gone missing — as it would be inconvenient to have to apply for a new identity card and cancel her credit card. This response is rather incongruous, but not entirely implausible, I suppose, considering how traumatised Sara must be to find herself whisked away to another world.Read More »

Re-read: The Exploits of Moominpappa by Tove Jansson

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The Exploits of Moominpappa, aka Moominpappa’s Memoirs is the fourth book in the Moomin series by Tove Jansson.

In this book, we find out about Moominpappa’s background and past. He is writing a memoir and he reads from it to his son Moomintroll, and Moomintroll’s friends Snufkin and Sniff.

As it turns out, Moominpappa’s early days were spent with Snufkin and Sniff’s fathers — the Joxter and the Muddler from whom, we see, many traits have been inherited by their offspring.

Moominpappa’s origins are quite romantic as he was left, wrapped in newspaper, at an orphanage run by a Hemulen. One day, having had enough of his colourless existence in the orphanage, and the Hemulen’s strict ways, he runs away.Read More »