The Jumbies Series
September 3, 2019
Algonquin Young Readers
In book three of the popular Jumbies series, Corinne must use her emerging supernatural powers to battle the angry god who would destroy her Caribbean island home.
When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.
Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.
So, where to begin? Let’s start with: Wow! Tracey Baptiste with The Jumbie God’s Revenge has written a novel that I could not put down even though it was the third in the series (I have not read the other two) and I am more than a wee bit older than the target audience.
Almost immediately after we meet Corinne, her family, and friends, the novel launches into action that does not abate until the last pages.
A terrible storm unlike any Corinne has ever seen before hits the island. Her father notes the lightning that does not usually occur with hurricanes. Quickly Corinne blames it on the jumbies but comes to discover that the god Huracan has been angered. Angered by her and her actions? Evidently. So she must now strive to fix the situation and return balance to her world.
The novel is fast-paced and the voice authoritative, frequently sounding like one that might tell epic tales. It has a sense of sadness at times as it invokes life and death. Lessons emerge during the telling: those who we think are evil may not be and may do good things, like save our lives; sometimes in order to prevail we must ask for help; and it takes a village, not just to raise a child but to survive.
I could suggest that The Jumbie God’s Revenge is a standalone, but I sincerely feel that much of the novel would make more sense and probably be even more appealing if I had read the previous two novels. That said, this was an amazing book that I’m glad I had the opportunity to read.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies
Corinne La Mer leapt from one tall coconut tree to another. Nothing but air surrounded her and there was only the sand and a few sharp rocks below. She landed on the rough trunk of the tree, slapping it hard with her
palms and then wrapping her legs around it. She slipped and felt a rush of panic rise to her throat until she got the soles of her feet flat against the bark to grip her in place. Corinne looked down at the beach. Mrs. Duval, in a bright purple headwrap and a loose white blouse and colorful skirt, shaded her eyes as she peered into the tree.
“Don’t injure yourself before you get my coconuts, please,” she teased Corinne.
Next to Mrs. Duval was Corinne’s friend Malik. He shaded his face with a small hand, watching Corinne as she moved. His older brother, Bouki, wasn’t looking her way at all. He was focused on the road, hoping for one last customer before they called it a morning. Corinne caught her breath and returned to her task. It was dizzyingly high at the top of the coconut trees. Even in the shade of their large fan-like leaves, and with the
sea breeze blowing to shore, the heat had her drenched in sweat. She panted as she reached up for a thick, yellow coconut. She twisted and twisted it until the tough stem snapped and then looked down to see where Malik was waiting to catch it, but the coconut slipped from her
“Watch out!” she cried. Malik stepped nimbly out of the way, but Bouki, busily counting Mrs. Duval’s coins, didn’t hear her warning. The coconut grazed the side of his arm and dropped near his foot.
“You nearly killed me!” he yelled.
“I said ‘watch out.’” Corinne carefully climbed back down the sloping trunk. She had skinned the insides of her thighs climbing down before and had learned to use the soles of her feet to keep her body away from the bark. When she was close enough to the bottom, she pushed off the tree and landed near Bouki, who had lopped off the top of the coconut with a machete and passed it to Mrs. Duval.
Q&A with Tracey Baptiste
How did you write THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE? All at once, or did you outline the story?
I didn’t think I had a 3rd jumbies book in me when Elise Howard asked me for one. And I was working on two other books at the time. So I started writing down little ideas on post-it notes and sticking them on the wall in my office. Eventually I had enough little ideas that I could see how the whole thing would come together. I outlined the story, something I usually don’t do, and then I started writing.
What were some surprises (good or bad) in creating a trilogy?
This wasn’t intended to be a trilogy. It has expanded by single books every time. Who knows where it will end at this point? The great part was that people wanted more and more jumbies, and if I had thought of a series at the beginning, I definitely would not have come up with the ideas that I did under pressure. The difficult part was that because I didn’t intended for it to be a series there were things I didn’t set up in the first novel which made things hard in book 2 and then book 3.
What gave you the idea for the series, and for how the story develops in THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE in particular?
I originally thought I wanted a series, but then it wasn’t bought as a series, so every book has had to develop on its own. The good news with that is that a reader could pick up any book in the series and start there. The idea for the jumbie god came while I was watching the awful hurricane season in 2017 and how it was devastating Caribbean nations. The Weather Channel mentioned a Carib god called Huracan. The Caribs are the indigenous people in Trinidad where I grew up. That was the very first thing I wrote on a post-it that went on my wall.
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE?
The moment that Corinne comes into her full jumbie powers when she is up in the mountains and goes to the fire to have a chat with Papa Bois is easily my favorite. It’s powerful and surprising and also a little bit gross.
If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be?
That it has to be treated like any other skill. It takes time and patience and courage, but it also needs to be nurtured. I’d remind myself to be gentle. I went to Catholic all girl schools my whole life, so being gentle was never on the menu.
What are you currently reading? What’s in your TBR pile?
Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli (I read at least one physics book a year), Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly, Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby, Ancient West African Kingdoms: Ghana, Mali, & Songhai by Mary Quigley (for research for a nonfiction book I’m writing), An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and quite a few others for both research and pleasure.
Do you write to music? If so, what were you listening to while you wrote THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE?
I find it too distracting to write to music, but I often take dance breaks where my assistant Barkley and I, let off steam in between long writing sessions. My music choices for dance sessions are pretty eclectic. It could be anything from classical to pop to rock. Barkley is quite fond of Motown, but he is a terrible dancer. Two left feet. Two right ones, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracey Baptiste is a New York Times bestselling author who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago on jumbie stories and fairy tales. Moving to the United States at fifteen was one of the hardest and most exciting times of her life. Tracey is a former elementary teacher and editor. She writes everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, both fiction and nonfiction. She currently teaches at Lesley University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. You can find her online at traceybaptiste.wordpress.com and on Twitter: @TraceyBaptiste