Onyeka’s hair has always made her feel anxious; there’s a lot of it and other people always notice. But one day, she discovers that she can control her hair with her mind! Following this amazing discovery, Onyeka is whisked off to Nigeria by her mother and she enrols in the Academy of the Sun, a school where Solari (children who have superpowers from the sun) are trained to become bodyguards. She is soon put to the test as she finds herself in the middle of a huge battle putting the future of all Solari, including her, at risk!
Onyeka is a gorgeous middle grade fantasy that falls under the ‘chosen one’ trope – one of my absolute favourites! However, Tola writes such an original story with Onyeka that no reader will feel like they’ve seen this before. Fiercely fast paced and exciting, it was seriously hard to put this book down at times – some really tense cliffhangery moments kept me wanting to read more and more. The ending left me with tons of questions and I just can’t wait for the sequel! Tola has built a fantastic world here with a magic system that makes me desperate to be a solari too.
The main character, Onyeka, herself is fiery and full of loyalty to those she loves. She has so much insecurity at the beginning, but throughout the novel she develops and learns where she fits in in her world amongst the other solari. I particularly liked Adanna and the depth in her character. What I love most about the cast of character is that this is absolutely the sort of book we need to be showing to children. Full of a majority black cast, this sort of diverse book is integral to black authors being heard and children seeing themselves in stories.
A compelling and dynamic fantasy story. More please. 5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Children’s UK and NetGalley for this e-book review copy. Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu is out 9th June and you can pre-order it here.