The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste


JumbiesThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Algonquin, 2015.

11 year-old Corrine lives on a Caribbean island that was inhabited by jumbies long before any people arrived. The malicious jumbies, who take all shapes, now live in the forest and the people keep away from it, but when Corrine goes in there, it triggers a whole chain of disastrous events.

Corrine lives with Pierre, her father; her mother died a long time ago and all she has left to remember of her is a stone pendant. Unbeknownst to her and Pierre, her mother was a jumbie who was won over by love. But now her evil sister, Severine, is out to get revenge on Corrine, Pierre, and the whole island population.

Tension is ratcheted up when Severine magically ensnares Pierre, and incites the jumbies to pour out of the forest to re-claim their original home. It is left, as the reader will already have guessed, to Corrine and her new friends, Asian Dru and orphan brothers Bouki and Malik, all well-rounded characters with virtues and flaws that make them authentic and likeable, to restore balance back to the island.

Inspired by Haitian folklore and written by Trinidadian Baptiste, there is a lusciously evocative sense of place, both the cerulean radiance of the coast and village, and the malevolent gloom of the forest. And though many of the folklore aspects of the tale will be familiar – sinister stepmother, changelings, heroine tested to her limits – the unfamiliar traditions of it make for an enticing and creepy read.

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