Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee
I never say this about books, but in the case of Pahua and the Soul Stealer, you should start at the end. The author’s note from Lori M. Lee offers powerful insights into how this book was created, how challenging it can be to draw on tales from an oral-storytelling tradition when writing a novel, and how much Pahua will mean to young readers who have never seen themselves represented in a fantasy adventure before. I will admit I knew next to nothing about Hmong culture and their traditional stories before reading Pahua. Now I understand how much I’ve been missing. Check out the glossary, also at the end. You’ll get a preview of the rich and fascinating world that awaits you, full of secretive gods, brave shaman warriors, ubiquitous spirits, restless ghosts, formidable dragons, magical guardian elephants, multiple realms of reality, and a talking invisible cat named Miv (which, spoiler alert, means cat).