Born in New York to Nigerian parents, 12-year-old Sunny follows her family back to their home country, where she finds it hard to fit in. Not only is she treated like a foreigner, but she is albino and ostracized at school for her differences. Until, that is, she falls in with a new group of friends who are descended from Leopard People, mysterious practitioners of old magic tied to ancient African religions. In the world of the Leopard People, Sunny’s albinism is a portent of great power, but first she has to learn how to wield it. Akata Witch (retitled What Sunny Saw in the Flames in Nigeria and the U.K. due to the derogatory meaning of ‘akata’ in some Nigerian dialects) is the first in a trilogy by Hugo and Nebula award-winning Nigerian-American author Nnedi Okorafor. Okorafor’s novels tend to reflect both her West-African heritage and American experiences, but in this series she creates a stunningly original world of African magic that draws on Nigerian folk beliefs and rituals instead of relying on the predictable tropes of Western fantasy novels. —Aryn Baker

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