If you (or some readers that you know) loved the Southeast Asian mythology seen in Raya and the Last Dragon, or if you have an interest in Hmong mythology, the spirit realm, or oral histories like that of the Hmong oral tradition, then the new book “Pahua and the Soul Stealer” might be worth adding to your middle grade fantasy collection! This middle-grade book might be meant for middle-schoolers, but (like many middle-grade books) it’s actually a great option for young adults, adults, or families. The book focuses on Hmong folklore; it is by Lori M. Lee and it is presented by Rick Riordan, the widely-known author who has written many adventure series or Disney-affiliated books.
This particular book is about “a lonely Hmong girl who discovers she’s a powerful shaman”, according to Goodreads. Riordan himself said the following about “Pahua and the Soul Stealer”: “I love the adventures Pahua has in this book. I also love the sense of humor, the clever plotting, and the fantastic cast of characters. But most of all I love Pahua: her courage, her kindness, and her love for family.”
Pahua Moua is an eleven-year-old Hmong girl who can “see spirits”, and who has befriended a cat spirit in particular. When Pahua “accidentally untethers an angry spirit from the haunted bridge in her neighborhood”, chaos ensues. As Pahua tries to control her “unique ability” and rein angry spirits in, the help of “a warrior shaman with a bit of an attitude problem” becomes crucial. And once Pahua has the help of a powerful shaman warrior, she must “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”!
According to Goodreads, this book has “unforgettable characters, [a] unique nature-based magic system, breathtaking twists and reveals”, and even a “climactic boss battle” that will definitely appeal to fantasy fans or adventure lovers! Interestingly, this book’s storyline is also based on “Hmong oral tradition”. If you have an interest in juvenile fiction, like Southeast Asian mythology, or if you are already a fan of Lori M Lee’s books, then you may want to read “Pahua and the Soul Stealer”! Have you read any of the books from Rick Riordan before, or perhaps “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings”, which is an anthology that featured a Southeast Asian story by Lori M. Lee? Do you tend to gravitate towards fantasy adventures like this book?