12 November 2010
Author: Panela Keyes
Publisher: Penguin, 400 Pages (October 14th 2010)
From: Publisher/Media Company, Thank You!
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Esti Legard spent her childhood in the Shakespearean world of her famous father, and when he died, she knew she could never give up acting. After she and her mother move to a Caribbean island for her senior year, she realizes that nothing at her new school's theater department is quite as it seems. Stunned by the death of a fellow student on her first day of class, Esti is soon surrounded by legends of the wicked jumbees that haunt the West Indies. She finds herself snubbed by the school’s star actress and relegated to a minor part in Romeo and Juliet.
Only her intriguing new friend, the elusive Alan, shares her passion for Shakespeare. Hiding in the dark recesses of the theater, he leads Esti deep into her own soul to explore the limits of her talent. When Esti's childhood best friend moves to the island and back into her life, however, Alan disappears. Rocked by growing accusations of befriending a jumbee, Esti realizes she must find out who – or what – Alan really is. She is soon forced to defy everyone and everything she’s ever believed in, as she plunges into the mysteries of Shakespeare and the legends of the West Indians, discovering shocking truths about her own past that will forever shape her future.
Review: 3.5 Stars - The Jumbee By Pamela Keyes is a modern retelling of the classic – The Phantom of the Opera. Fans will easily find much to love about the characters and story as Keyes found ways to make this classic all her own.
Set in a culture rich in legends and superstitions on an Island in the Caribbean I questioned just how this would work for such a tale. I admit that it took me until about halfway through the book to truly get into things when it came to both story and characters. I had a hard time figuring out just how this even resembled the Phantom of the Opera and also connecting with each of our main characters. I believe I had a hard time because of the culture and their superstitions and how much these and the classic story overlapped. I did more than enjoy learning about the culture and their superstitions, I just felt a bit confused with that part of the story and how it would all come together and what part it would play in this retelling.
Each of our main characters – Esti, Alan and soon Rafe – They were a bit… flat in the first half of the book. I didn’t feel I had any connection with them and I truly believed that came from my confusion. The second half of the book each of the characters seemed to change and become more alive. I understood more of Esti and her want to know just who Alan was and if he was a true Jumbee or an actual person. And then Alan seemed to change as well and more of the puzzle pieces fell into place as the story continued to progress. Rafe might not have been a character that was throughout the whole book, but I felt he was part of the reasons both Esti and Alan’s characters came more real so to speak.
If not for the second half of the book, I wouldn’t have been able to give it the rating that I did. I would have enjoyed it even more so if there would have been an epilogue letting us know what happened a year from when the story concluded. I’d like to have seen more of how Esti came out further from behind her fathers shadow and lived more in the present instead of his fame in the past. Also, I finally felt bad for Alan in those last few pages of the book. I wondered what would happen to him as well.
All in all, the Jumbee is perfect for anyone looking for a modern retelling of the Phantom of the Opera. Keyes has taken the classic and infused it with tales from the Caribbean Islands and created something completely different from anything else I’ve ever read.
FTC Disclaimer: I did NOT pay for this book, nor have I been compensated at all in any way or means for reading and writing this HONEST review.