Pahua and the Soul Stealer, by Lori M. Lee

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Pahua Moua isn’t the only Hmong kid in her small Wisconsin town–there’s also her little brother Matt. She’s also grown up with the ability to see spirits, which even her shaman aunt can’t do–her best friend is a cat spirit, and she has daily interactions with other spirits around her home and surroundings. Other than that, though, she feels pretty isolated. When she has a chance to go with a friendly classmate–and a couple of less friendly ones–to look at a spooky old bridge in the woods, she takes it.

Pahua’s ability to see spirits is a mixed blessing, though, because the bridge is not as empty as her classmates think–and the spirit staying there is pretty tired of being alone. Pahua doesn’t mean to upset the spirit, but before she knows it her brother is in the hospital, and she’s joined by a shaman warrior her own age–at least sort of a shaman warrior her own age–on a quest to save him before he gets turned into a demon.

The sub-genre of middle-grade fantasy that features contemporary American kids having magical adventures with legends from their own heritage has been really popular in recent years, and for good reason–because a lot of the writers who are exploring this sub-genre have been doing a great job. Lee’s Pahua is engaging and fun and a very welcome addition to the group. Long may it last–and also let’s see what other stories Lee has to tell, in and out of this category.

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