Cover Image: Pahua and the Soul Stealer

Pahua and the Soul Stealer

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Member Reviews

Pahua and the Soul Stealer is a good read that I would recommend to my students.  While I knew nothing of the Hmong culture, the author does a good job of helping the reader understand the culture while also telling a good story. Pahua learned to have confidence in herself while dealing with adverse situations. She learned how to be a friend,  trust others, and  help out when and where she could. The story has good lessons for students while learning about another cultural. Will definitely recommend to my higher readers.
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I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

I really enjoyed Pahua's story for several reasons. First of all, it gave me major Aru Shah vibes. Second, I know nothing about Hmong culture or mythology so it was really interesting for me to learn some things about it. Third, I really liked Pahua's talent of looking beyond a person's exterior. I think that's a message that kids can't read about enough. 

All in all, the book was so lovely! I loved the story, the ghostly vibes, and the character development of all three main characters. I would definitely recommend Pahua and the Soul Stealer to anyone who loved Percy Jackson, or any of the subsequent RR Presents novels!
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Pahua has always been able to see spirits and while they have never given her much trouble, things take a drastic turn when she accidentally frees a bridge spirit who goes on to steal Pahua’s brother’s soul. Sounds like the beginning of a grand adventure - and thus starts Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee. Thank you to Disney Publishing for the e-galley via NetGalley. 

Prior to reading Pahua and the Soul Stealer, I had heard of the Hmong people before but never actually knew much about them. Aside from being quite an adventurous story, it also became an educational one as I learned about the Hmong culture and beliefs. Pahua is a brave young girl - possibly shaman warrior - and with the help of a new acquaintance and her cat spirit best friend - she is about to embark on a journey where she will uncover many secrets about herself, her family, and the Hmong community. 

Pahua and the Soul Stealer was an enjoyable middle grade fantasy read featuring a brave and kind Hmong girl. I recommend it to any readers who enjoy the Aru Shah series by Roshani Chokshi or The Last Fallen Star by Grace Kim.
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This is a book set to release in September, and I’m so excited for it! 
This story is about Pahua, an eleven-year old who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. Even at home she’s an outcast, but only because she has a big secret that no one will believe. This special secret and her desire to belong lead her down a path of excitement, accidents, discoveries, and self-growth. I thought the character of Pahua was extremely well written and I really appreciated learning more about Hmong culture! With just the right amount of adventure and even a little bit spooky, I know this is an easy addition to any middle grade classroom bookshelf! I’d recommend for 4th and up on this one, mostly because it’s lengthy. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!
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A great addition to the diverse canon of Rick Riordan’s imprint with a Hmong main character and mythology. We have a large Hmong population in MN and I’m excited to see some representation in a fantasy book.
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This is an absolutely perfect book for middle school classroom libraries to help readers branch out from Percy Jackson and other Rick Riordan books into some new authors. The magic and storytelling were wonderful and engaging. Definitely recommend.
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Rick Riordan certainly knows an epic fantasy when he reads one, and Lee’s novel is sure to be another winner in his stable of published novels! Pahua is a Hmong girl, living in a small, suburban community where no one resembles her at all. Her father left the family, and her mother works constantly to keep the family afloat. This leaves Pahua looking after her little brother, Matt, more than hanging out with friends, but since no one seems to want to be her friend, she doesn’t really mind. Besides she and Matt are close, and she does have a cat spirit named Miv who is her friend, too. Yep, Pahua sees spirits that no one else can. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t relate to the other kids in town? Anyway, while trying to fit in with some classmates, she accidentally releases an angry spirit who whisks away her brother’s soul. Fortunately for her, along comes a surly Hmong girl named Zhong, sent by her Shaman mentor to figure out what’s happening with this spirit. What follows is an often funny, full throttle adventure that had me putting aside other books so that I could see what was about to ensue. As hard to believe as it sounds, Lee makes Pahua relatable, even though she’s fighting off demons (who love to accessorize) and escaping giant frogs and all manner of other creatures. Her struggle to understand her parents is a subject most readers will understand, and her uncertainty over being able to make friends is another painful issue that will draw readers in. This one also ends with just enough hint at a sequel to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
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If I was still teaching, this book would definitely be in my classroom library. Why? First, the main characters are two young girls, with Pahua being eleven. They face many challenges and are successful most of the time with more than a few bumps in the road along the way. Secondly, the story is based on Hmong folklore, stories, and beliefs passed down through the history of the Hmong people.

Now, the story follows Pahua as she has accidentally released a soul which then took the soul of her little brother. Here, a third reason this story would be in my classroom library. Pahua takes care of her little brother since her mother works such long hours after Pahua's dad left. So, this story shows the love siblings really can have for each other as Pahua literally would do anything to bring her brother back to the land of the living. Along with this family relationship is the stress Pahua had put on herself after her father left. She is upset by this and often places the blame on herself for his leaving. This is not uncommon in children who do not really understand the dynamics of divorce and parents who do not realize the guilt their children have over a divorce.

If I used this story in my classroom as a read-aloud or a class book, I would encourage a study of the Hmong people as well as the areas from which they come. (fourth reason) Their history of how their travels tied into the Vietnam War would have fit in when my students studied the US at War through a variety of literature. Learning the folklore of another culture is good for students to see and to underatand how the oral language is important in passing down the history of a culture.

A fifth reason to have this book in my classroom would be in addition to the fact the main characters are young girls, they are girls with super powers or magical powers. My students loved any books like this from the time the Harry Potter came out. And to have books showing girls as the heroes is wonderful. I always purchased books like these in order to guarantee there would be a new book for my lovers of the magical realms.

The book uses a lot of Hmong words as well as difficult names to remember. I read the book faster than a student would read it so no, I could not tell you all the names of the various characters who were obstacles along the path, but my students would have been able to do that. I learned quickly that it was not a challenge for my kids to know all the characters of any Harry Potter or Bartemaeus books (as well as all the other series including Percy Jackson and more.) They did much better than I when it came to remembering the characters but unless it was a book I had to know all the characters in detail, I read the books I bought for my classroom library so I would know they had suitable story lines and I could do that without having to remember numerous characters

I did receive this book in advance of its publication from Net Galley and Disney Publishing Worldwide. My review is my honest opinions and as you can see, I liked the book for the ages it is intended (middle grades and up) as well as for those adults who found themselves also fascanated by fantasy or magical books as they grew up.

#NetGalley #Pahluaandthesoulstealer #DisneyPublishingWorldwide
#PahuaandtheSoulStealer #NetGalley
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I have loved each of the books I have read from Rick Riordan Presents, and Pahua and the Soul Stealer is one of the best! This story is so fun, spooky, and unique! I adored the characters and I'm so happy that I joined them on their adventure!
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee.  Pahua, a misfit Hmong girl, can see spirits.  Her best friend, in fact her only friend, is a cat spririt named Miv.  When an evil spirit captures the soul of her younger brother causing him to fall into a coma like sleep, Pahua attempts to confront the spirit and demand his soul back.  Unwittingly, she makes things worse by summoning a demon and is luckily saved by a shaman warrior, Zhong.  Despite initial dislike of each other, together Zhong and Pahua, battle demons and dragons and more in an effort to save Pahua's brother and themselves.  This book is full of interesting Hmong folklore, unexpected twists and turns, and non-stop action around every turn.  I highly recommend it.
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The Hmong culture is deep, thoughtful, and full of such great stories. I was really excited and curious to see how the author would weave a tale worthy of such a great culture. Post-read, I feel the author did a good job of showing how each family handles heritage differently, highlighting simple acts of religious acknowledgement in the day to day routines (such as the house gods), and gave a good overview of a very complex deity system. My only complaint, which is actually proving to be a trend within storytelling these days, is having a character be dropped into an absolute unknown situation and the other characters shaming them for not having immediate knowledge. I feel it is creating drama where there needs to be no drama. Pahua can see and interact with spirits, but does not understand the world in which they live. When thrust into that world, I felt a bit angry at the reaction the other characters displayed upon learning of her ignorance. The character banter improved, but it did put me on edge for a good part of the book. Overall, I feel this book is another good asset to the Rick Riordan world and I look forward to the sequel when it is published.
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This story feels important, and I believe it is. It is the first middle grade book I have read/seen with a Hmong main character. Lee crafts an imaginative adventure with multi-faceted characters. Pahua is undoubtedly one of the most memorable fantasy heroes to me. She can channel abilities and wield a mighty weapon, but she has an ability to see and read people and try to solve issues by helping others even those who might first appear as enemies  when possible. Her love and protectiveness of her brother is admirable and desire for a friend relatable.
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An excellent fantasy/action/adventure story that brings out the beauty of Hmong storytelling in a way that children can engage with and learn about another culture. The adventure of the story is enjoyable and children will want to read this story to the end.
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Another delightful addition to the Rick Riordan presents collection of other mythologies. Pahua unknowningly get releases a bridge spirit that sends her brother into the Spirit Realm. Now Pahua must confront who she really is and go into the Spirit Ream to save her brother. An interesting look into the Hmong culture. 
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Pahua is a 11-year-old Hmong girl with the ability to see spirits. Her father left their family years ago, and her mother works hard to support Pahua and her brother Matt, so Pahua looks after her little brother. When her brother's spirit is stolen by a spirit that was haunting a bridge, Pahua knows she needs help, but her mother refuses to believe that Matt is anything other than sick. Pahua returns to the bridge to try to fix things, but only ends up summoning a demon. Thankfully another Hmong girl named Zhong appears to defeat the demon. Zhong agrees to help Pahua rescue her brother's spirit, but only because she was sent on a quest by her shaman warrior school to investigate the bridge spirit. With her friend the spirit kitten Miv, Pahua enters the spirit world with Zhong, and so begins a crazy adventure learning about Hmong culture and legends and self-discovery.
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A girl who has trained her whole life to be a shaman warrior and one born a shaman warrior, with no training or knowledge that these trainings exist, connect in a battle to save the souls that one of them caused to be stolen in the first place. 

Throughout this story the two warriors and the ghost of a girl that is stealing souls are all in a battle with how they react to fear. Fear of being alone, fear of making the wrong decisions, fear of not being good enough, and fear that they will lose the one thing that brings them joy.  

If you love all that goes bump in the night, strong, young female characters, sword fighting, inner strength magic, and mythology - or even just one of those - you will LOVE this book.
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This book is amazing!  I loved Pahua and her journey to more confidence in herself.  She's a great kid who feels invisible.  I was happy to see that her transformations will be gradual with obstacles and stumbles, giving all readers a chance to see themselves in her successes as well as her failures.  She takes responsibility and works to make amends.
I'm super excited about the next (2?) books in the series.  This is setting up for some great adventures with Miv and Zhong.  Plus, the laugh out loud moments were great!  I love the bits of humor that balanced the sadness and tension.  Such great writing!
I also really enjoyed the exposure to Hmong culture.  While oral storytelling is hard to pinpoint, Lee did an excellent job weaving details throughout the story so the reader, who will most likely have no exposure to these stories the ability to understand and appreciate them.
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I'm ashamed I hadn't heard of the Hmong community before now. This book was eye opening and caught attention from the first chapter. I like how she uses her brain to think through problems. Eagerly anticipating a sequel!
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Pahua Moua is an 11-year-old Hmong girl who doesn't fit in at school, spends all her free time looking after her little brother Matt, and can see spirits. When she accidentally sets a bridge spirit free one afternoon, the bridge spirit steals Matt's soul and hides in the spirit world. Pahua is determined to find Matt's soul and bring it home, but in doing so, she calls a demon and must be rescued by Zhong, a shaman-in-training. Despite their obvious differences and rough start, Pahua and Zhong must learn to work together to save Matt before his soul turns into a demon. The adventures they have together as they travel through the different dimensions is a lot of fun. 

I have enjoyed everything I've read from the Rick Riordan Presents Disney imprint, but I was particularly interested in this one because I recently read the book <i>The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down</i> by Anne Fadiman. Fadiman tells the true story of Lia Lee, a Hmong child born here in the US who develops epilepsy and the incredible conflict and misunderstanding between US culture and Hmong culture and between modern western medicine and traditional Hmong shaman medicine and spiritual beliefs. There's a fair bit of Hmong history and Hmong mythology in Fadiman's book, too, so I jumped at the chance to read about this mythology by an #OwnVoices author.

Pahua and Zhong are both strong characters in their own right, but they have their weaknesses and worries, just like everybody else. I enjoyed their relationship and how it progressed. I enjoyed the adventure and especially the strength they found to solve their problems. I loved the lessons from the book in being true to ourselves and recognizing our own talents and weaknesses. There is a lot of good stuff to enjoy here!

The Hmong believe in a LOT of different spirits and it was hard for me to keep track of them all. The spelling of the Hmong words is confusing (an nothing is pronounced the way it's written!), but nothing can be done about that so be sure to check the glossary at the back for help. Even with the background I have of recently reading a non-fiction book all about Hmong beliefs and culture, I still had a hard time keeping all the spirits straight so I think the target audience for this book (middle grade) will have a hard time with it, too. Hence, I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 because the mythology did get a bit overwhelming to keep track of as the book progressed. 

Still, I definitely recommend this book and look forward to the sequel! (Please tell me there will be a sequel!!)

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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I really enjoyed learning about the folk tales of the Hmong culture! Pahua is going to be such a hero for girls to look up to. I'm excited about this book's release. It has an adventure story worthy of the Rick Riordan name and lots of amazing folk spirits from the Hmong pantheon. Easy to read and never boring, it's a book I will recommend to all my local libraries!

I was lucky to be on the NetGalley ARC team for this book.
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