The Pearl Hunter (Hardcover)

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The Pearl Hunter By Miya T. Beck Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

When Kai's twin sister is swallowed by the ghost whale, she makes a bargain with the gods to save Kishi's soul. Her journey to retrieve a coveted jewel is one of breathless suspense, unspooling to become an epic of Japanese folklore that rivals the tales Kai heard as a child. Kai may see herself as the "bad twin", but her determination, born from love, proves she deserves her own legend. I read it too fast, so now I get the pleasure of reading it again. Like the Bakekujira, this story will swallow you whole. 
— From Emmy's Picks

A stunning novel, inside and out. Kai and Kishi are twin pearl divers who do everything together, until the day Kishi is swallowed by a ghost whale. And Kai is willing to risk everything to bring her twin back home. Kai is complex, imperfect, fierce and loyal. Along her journey she learns she's not just the "disobedient twin" she claims herself to be, but is capable of so much more. Japanese folklore and traditions are beautifully woven through this story to give the reader a cultural adventure great for fans of the Rick Riordan Presents novels. The Pearl Hunter will capture your heart and leave you thoughtful.
— From Brandi's Picks (page 1)

March/April 2023 Kids Indie Next List

“Among the countless books using fantasy to speak to the reality of growing up, this book stands out for its unique plot and magical realism, magical realms and beings, down-to-earth emotions, and universal adolescent experiences.”
— Emily Autenrieth, A Seat at the Table Books, Elk Grove, CA


Set in a world inspired by pre-Shogun era Japan, this is a stunning debut fantasy in the vein of Grace Lin about how a young pearl diver goes to the ends of the earth to rescue her twin sister, who has been stolen by a ghost whale.

Kai and Kishi share the same futon, the same face, and the same talent for pearl diving. But Kishi is the obedient daughter, while Kai tries to push the rules, and sometimes they fight. Still, when Kishi is stolen and killed by the legendary Ghost Whale, nothing will stop Kai from searching for her, deep in the ocean, hoping for a way to bring her back to life.

But such a rescue is beyond the power of an ordinary mortal. Kai strikes a deal with the gods: she’ll steal a magic pearl in exchange for her sister’s soul. As she journeys across treacherous land scape, Kai must navigate encounters with scheming bandits, a power-hungry war lord, and a legion of conniving fox spirits.  And when a new friendship becomes something almost as powerful as her love for her sister, Kai must make impossible choices and risk everything just to get home again.

Woven through with Japanese culture and legends, this many-layered story will grip readers of all ages.

About the Author

Miya T. Beck is a native Californian who always had a deep interest in the Japanese side of her heritage. Though she tried and failed to become fluent in Japanese, her studies did introduce her to the myths and fairy tales that inspired her debut novel, The Pearl Hunter. A former daily newspaper reporter and magazine writer, she lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Praise For…

"Filled with elements of Japanese culture, including myths and legends, this is an exciting, fast-paced adventure with lots of twists and turns…. Readers will want to dive into this story full of magic and adventure." — Kirkus Reviews

"The elegant prose is descriptive, and the fictional world, inspired by eleventh century Japan, is rich with Japanese myths and legends... the book will especially find an audience with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Grace Lin." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"The engrossing story whisks readers into a world of magical possibilities along with real-world conundrums. Enchanting Japanese folklore and detailed settings are woven into a high-stakes adventure with a twist ending that will leave readers hoping for more. A terrifically transporting tale of familial love and the power in finally stepping into your identity." — Booklist

“Supernatural entities from Japanese mythology propel a young pearl diver on a perilous mission in this immersive otherworldly fantasy…. With a painstakingly built world and a strong emotional thrust, Beck’s vivid, fierce-hearted debut fleshes out a flawed, memorable protagonist alongside fearsome mythical creatures.” — Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063238190
ISBN-10: 0063238195
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 7th, 2023
Pages: 320
Language: English