Paperback, 8.5x5.5, 424 pages, English
by Lori M. Lee
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.
From School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-This action-packed adventure centers Pahua, a Hmong girl who can see nature spirits. Her father abandoned the family, leaving her alone with her mother and little brother. The school bullies, who read as white, make fun of Pahua's food, dress, and language. A new girl finally invites Pahua to hang out at the bridge, and despite feeling negative vibes Pahua agrees to go. At the bridge, Pahua comes into contact with the spirit of a girl that died there. This spirit is angry and attaches itself to Pahua-and her little brother. Pahua borrows some of the shaman gear left by her aunt in her mother's closet and goes to confront the bridge spirit. While there she meets, Zhong, a shaman warrior in training. Zhong, who knows more about evil spirits called poj ntxoog, agrees to assist Pahua in going into the spirit realm to save her little brother. Pahua learns from a friendly spirit that she only has a few days to untether the bridge spirit from her little brother's or he will die. Pahua and Zhong come across many spiritfolk who assist them and tell more folktales, building the rich world out for the reader. The girls even meet some of the Gods and Goddesses themselves. Lee uses Hmong language throughout the story, and readers who are unfamiliar will be able to figure out the meaning using context and the glossary at the end of the book. The prevalent themes of this action-packed novel include friendship, family, and identity. VERDICT This powerful story rooted in Southeast Asian mythology should be on all shelves for teens and tweens to find. Fantasy readers will love Pahua and look forward to her adventures.-Helen Prince, Indian Land H.S., Fort Mill, SCα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
About the Author
Lori M. Lee has been writing stories since the third grade and earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing. She specializes in science fiction and fantasy and has two YA series to her name: Gates of Thread and Stone and Shamanborn. She's also a contributor to several anthologies, including A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and Color Outside the Lines. Lori was born in a village in the mountains of Laos, which her family was forced to escape when she was just an infant. They relocated to a refugee camp in Thailand refugee for a few years and moved permanently to the United States when she was three. Now she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and excitable shih-tzu. Her Twitter handle is @LoriMLee.