Arc Review, RISE OF THE JUMBIES, by Tracy Baptiste, Algonquin Young Readers, division of Workman Publishing

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OVERVIEW:  When local children from Corinne La Mer’s Caribbean island home begin to go missing, suspicious eyes turn to half-jumbie, Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to meet Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the waves. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends must travel with mermaids across the ocean to fetch a powerful object. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s journey across the sea is the jumbie foe who waits for her back home.

With action-packed storytelling, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African tales, Rise of the Jumbies will appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic and Where the Mountain Meets The Moon, as well as fans of The Jumbies.

MY BOOK REVIEW:

First, I must confess, I did not read Book #1.  I received this lovely book ARC from Algonquin Young Readers, a division of Workman Publishing, and decided to review it as a standalone, even though it’s part of a series. I read the first chapter and felt I could carry on with my review.

This book was so wonderfully written, I was able to appreciate all of it: the settings, sweet characters, including the villains, a great plot structure, excellent tone and amazing voice of the author.

After checking out their website, I discovered all books published by Algonquin had beautiful covers. Peruse their website located here:

https://algonquinyoungreaders.com/books-for-teens

The book I’m about to review is also just as beautiful.

This review ARC is in a paperback format.

The author, Tracey Baptiste lived in Trinidad until she was fifteen; she grew up on jumbie stories and fairy tales. She is a former teacher who now works as a writer and editor.

This author has a definite style of writing and a clearly enjoyable voice. Her ability to get inside her characters’ heads and draw you into their thoughts, fears and anxieties is very cleverly written. Right away, you feel the struggle the Protagonist has with her own heritage and the judgements of others around her and how they effect her need to belong.

With each new setting, the author introduces a new drama keeping the pace of the story moving forward to its climatic conclusion. I would have welcomed more descriptive narrative introduced about each setting just to make them even more interesting and compelling but the author did well balancing narrative and dialogue and I was able to imagine, through the use of both, where the story was taking place. However, I note that normally in children’s book, with the exception of epic fantasy, description narrative is kept at a minimum to propel the story along faster.

The quality of writing was expertly done and the story is well-edited. I found no plot holes or misspelled words/missing words or any change in pace suggesting a plot issue. The author’s voice flows smoothly from one transition to another giving you moments of culture and accents in dialogue for a true Caribbean flavor.  Descriptions of dress and hair styles, use of colors in clothing and community traditions fill the book with hints of life in Caribbean/West Africa. Through the author’s voice, I could envision it all and I love this book for sharing all these lovely tidbits with me.

The story structure was interesting. There was only one spot that needed re-reading, but in all, the story moved along nicely. Plot development was strong with character driven goals moving the story along at a constant pace.

Every single character was useful and important to the Protagonist in achieving her goals. Through their interactions, they successfully propelled her forward to achieving each goal set out in the story in a clear and decisively written manner. I found every character unique and necessary to the  story development. The only one I didn’t quite get was the White Witch, but I suspect I would understand more about her, if I had read the first book before this one.

From beginning to end, I enjoyed this book. It was very entertaining and eye-opening to a culture I wasn’t that familiar with. Life by the ocean must be incredible and the author captured this feeling exquisitely.

I think the premise for this series promises to be insightful, rich and original. I hope the rest of the Jumbies series continues to entertain ages eight through to twelve as this one book successfully entertained me.

This review seems to be all over the place, but I just can’t seem to say enough for the book and author… so, I give this tween book:

4_stars_gold1

 

 

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