Pahua and the Soul Stealer (Rick Riordan Presents) by Lori M. Lee Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young Hmong girl with the ability to see the dead discovers she is a powerful shaman warrior must travel through the spirit worlds in order to find her brother’s stolen soul in author Lori M. Lee’s “Pahua and the Soul Stealer”, part of the Rick Riordan Presents series.

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The Synopsis

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.

“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.”–NYT best-selling author Rick Riordan

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.

The Review

Such a spectacular and awe-inspiring new middle-grade and YA novel that brings the fantasy genre to all new heights. While I am a big fan of mythology, I must admit that I was not very well versed in the mythology of the Hmong people. After this book, I am ready to take a deep dive into this rich culture and mythos that I never knew waited for me. The author did a fabulous job of finding the right balance of rich culture and mythology with the more personal character development of protagonist Pahua, who must balance her own unique gifts, her destiny, and her struggle as an outcast amongst her schoolmates with her mission to save her brother’s soul. 

The themes that the author employed in the narrative really did grab the reader’s attention. The classic story of a young kid gifted with a perilous and heroic destiny, who must take control of her life and face untold dangers to save the life of a loved one is a story as old as time itself, and yet the unique mythos gave the theme new life, as did the theme of a young person considered an outcast not only finding their footing in the world but becoming the hero no one knew they needed. The connection to family and ancestors also struck a unique chord with me, as we all like to think that our loved ones and ancestors are watching over us, and this novel really incorporated that well. 

The Verdict

A heartfelt, magical, and entertaining middle-grade and YA Fantasy read, author Lori M. Lee’s “Pahua and the Soul Stealer” is a must-read novel of 2021, and a contender for the best middle-grade read of the year. This fantasy novel does a fantastic job of introducing readers to a mythology that may not be as familiar to some as say Greek or Egyptian mythology but holds so much fascinating history and culture that could rival either of those cultures as well. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lori is an avid writer, reader, artist, and lover of unicorns. She should probably spend less time on the internet (but she won’t). She considers herself a unicorn aficionado, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family.

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