I picked up my second year of middle class fantasy book and I have to tell you how much I love these books. I haven’t read middle school since I was a middle school student, but these books (especially those with a lot of variety) really make me feel like characters and I keep telling them good luck.
Pahua Moua has a bit of a weird reputation. A lonely eleven-year-old Hmong girl with a unique ability to see spirits, she spends her summer days raising her little brother and playing with her best friend-cat spirit that no one sees.
One day, Pahua accidentally unleashes an evil spirit from the enchanted bridge in its neighborhood. When her brother suddenly falls ill and cannot be awakened, Pahua fears that the spirit of the bridge has stolen his soul. She returns to the crime scene with her old aunt’s shamanic tools, hoping to face the spirit and demand the return of her brother. Instead, she summons a demon.
Fortunately, a warrior shaman with some attitude problems shows up at the last minute and saves her butt. With the help of this guide, Pahua will have to find his way through the spirit worlds and save his brother’s soul before it is too late. She doesn’t know she will have her own discoveries along the way. . . .
This story of unforgettable characters, a unique system of nature-based magic, breathtaking twists and revelations, and the battle of the climax of the boss is based on the Hmong verbal tradition and offers everything a fantasy lover could want.
It really was a journey for your chosen one / hero and I was for it. I liked Pahua and her fate, learned more about the shaman with Zhongu nearby and was definitely much older than the average 11-year-old. It was such a funny book with a lot of heart, and it made me so excited to read and ignore my adult responsibilities. She has a familiar cat that I just adored. I am a huge fan of characters with talking pets / spirits leading them along the way. In the books I end up reading, they are always arrogant.
Pahua is not your typical strong character. There were moments when it seemed like she could do more than you expected at the time, but I liked that she and Zhong were a team that worked closely together, despite Zhong’s obvious hostility. Pahua has a lot to do with this story as well and it doesn’t just lose his brother’s soul to the mysterious spirit. She is also struggling with the loss of her father from her life. When her parents divorced, she seems to feel abandoned and confused about what to do next. I can definitely come to terms with it in a variety of ways and, moreover, she is rejected at school because she is Asian and no one helps her. For me, it was so common that I felt the heart attract Pahua.
Despite some of the more difficult topics, the book was still thrilling with a lot of action and adventure as Zhong and Pahua travel into the spirit realm again and again. I enjoyed meeting different spirits as they traveled. From the aunts who fed them when they were hungry and to the old woman caring for the Tree of Souls, it was warm to the spirits of these worlds, who did not feel so in the reality of Pahua. Even demons and dragon boys were sometimes hilarious.
The adventures don’t end either. Seriously, when Pahua and Zhong understood one part of the puzzle, there was another thing they needed to fight or face. It made the story really compelling and I wanted to keep reading to see what happens next!
One of the aspects I really loved about Pahua is how non-violent she is. Instead of solving the ax problem, she talks to the enemy or negotiates with them. For me, it’s just thinking with a big brain, and I liked that Zhong is also the opposite of this thesis, but I was really surprised that Pahua chose a different path.
All in all, it was such an action-packed story with lots of adventure and friendship. I enjoyed learning about Hmong culture and folklore during my trip to Pahua and Zhong. It made me laugh very hard to save these girls for the day.