Certain stories take you gently by the hand and whisper “Come with me,” but Pahua and the Soul Stealer boldly crashes through the door, throws you a sword, and proclaims “We’re going on a quest! Follow me!”
From the moment I opened this book, I knew it was a special tale. Pahua is a spirited and unique heroine, aware of her shortcomings as she goes toe-to-toe with spirits, demons, and gods while trying to save her little brother’s life. Her quest gets underway with the help of Zhong, a shaman warrior in training, and Pahua’s best friend, a cat spirit named Miv (“mee”, Hmong for cat). Pahua is forced to reconcile who she believes she is with the expectations of those around her as the truth of her spirit is revealed. Pahua’s fast-paced adventure is fraught with danger, but is also full of magic, and it highlights the power of friendship and believing in yourself. Pahua’s tale reminds us all that there is power in empathy and compassion.
Author Lori M. Lee instantly pulls readers into the world of Hmong mythology and culture — a wonderful, rich world I hope she’ll be revisiting in the near future. She effortlessly explains the legends, pronunciations, and traditions of Hmong culture with an ease that will have even newbies like myself completely enchanted with this magical yet dangerous story. Readers will also find a handy guide at the back of the book with pronunciations and quick descriptions of characters, locations, and more. It’s no exaggeration to say that I quite literally could not put this book down. I spent my days wondering what was next for Pahua, Zhong, and Miv as I went about my daily life (and more than once picked it up while still working). This is a special book that mythology fans of all ages should add to the top of their “Must Read” list.
Lee throws constant plot twists and side quests at the trio, ensuring there is never a dull moment or an easy answer, while Pahua navigates the difficult task of rescuing her brother. Lee’s masterful storytelling is on full display as she weaves a vivid world in the mind’s eye with excellent descriptive language, never leaving the reader without a clear picture of the sights, sounds, and scents of Pahua travels.
This is one novel that I can’t recommend enough and will be revisiting when I get that itch for a fantastic literary adventure! You can preorder your copy of Pahua and the Soul Stealer now, and the book hits shelves September 7.