Book Title: Pahua and the Soul Stealer
Author: Lori M. Lee
Release Date: September 7th, 2021
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure
My rating: 4/5 Stars
Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Lori M. Lee’s middle grade debut about a lonely Hmong girl who discovers she’s a powerful shaman warrior in this fantasy inspired by Southeast Asian mythology.
Pahua Moua has a bit of a reputation for being a weirdo. A lonely eleven-year-old Hmong girl with the unique ability to see spirits, she spends her summer days babysitting her little brother and playing with her best friend, a cat spirit no one else can see.
One day Pahua accidentally untethers an angry spirit from the haunted bridge in her neighborhood–whoops. When her brother suddenly falls sick and can’t be awoken, Pahua fears that the bridge spirit has stolen his soul. She returns to the scene of the crime with her aunt’s old shaman tools, hoping to confront the spirit and demand her brother’s return. Instead, she summons a demon.
Thankfully, a warrior shaman with a bit of an attitude problem shows up at the last minute and saves her butt. With the help of this guide, Pahua will have to find her way through the spirit worlds and rescue her brother’s soul before it’s too late. Little does she know she’ll have her own discoveries to make along the way. . . .
With its unforgettable characters, unique nature-based magic system, breathtaking twists and reveals, and climactic boss battle, this story based on Hmong oral tradition offers everything a fantasy lover could want.
Before reading Pahua and the Soul Stealer, I knew very little about Hmong culture and mythology. I’m so glad I read this book because it introduced me to so much I didn’t know before. I really think anyone who enjoys the other Rick Riordan presents stories will love this one, too. It’s filled with all of the fun adventures and humor you’d expect from these stories, and it delivers on all of them excellently.
Pahua’s character was very interesting, and I loved watching her progression throughout the story. While she’s eager (if a little bit apprehensive) to learn everything she can about being a shaman warrior, she never loses sight of her empathy and compassion for others. While a different protagonist might have jumped to fight every time they were met with opposition, Pahua tried to leave violence as a last resort. It was refreshing to see.
I also loved the relationship between Pahua and her brother Matt, along with the tentative bonds that grew between her and Zhong. But of course, we can’t forget the loveable cat spirit, Miv. While the plot was certainly compelling and interesting, it was the friendships exhibited that kept me hooked.
I’m so glad I read Pahua and the Soul Stealer. I’ve yet to read a book from Rick Riordan Presents that I haven’t enjoyed at least a little, and this book is no exception!
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you read Pahua and the Soul Stealer? What were your thoughts? Does your opinion differ from mine? I’d love to hear from you!