Corinne La Mer used to have a normal life – she loved her father, had friends, and even grew the sweetest oranges on the island – until she learned she is half jumbie.
Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste is about a young girl named Corinne who lives on an island ruled by jumbies in the Caribbean.
In Caribbean folklore, jumbies are creatures that come out of the forest at night and cause trouble. I had never heard of jumbies before, but apparently they are common mythical characters in the Caribbean that children learn about early in their lives. The jumbies in the book are douens – baby spirits with backward feet who kidnap children, soucouyant – old women who can shed their skin and turn into a ball of fire, La Diabless – beautiful women with one normal foot and one cow’s hoof, and lagahoo – creatures with chains around them that can take the form of a human or a werewolf.
Everyone starts avoiding Corinne when they learn that she is half jumbie. They think she is just like the terrible things that lurk in the mahogany forest. They don’t care that she had saved everyone from Severine, the twiggy creature who is also ruler of the jumbies and Corinne’s aunt. The only people who still like Corinne are her father and her friends Bouki, Malik, and Dru.
Suddenly, children start disappearing into bodies of water. Everyone thinks Corinne is causing all this to happen, but she knows just as little about it as they do. In an effort to find the missing children and clear her own name, she asks Mama D’Leau, the jumbie who rules the sea, for help. Mama D’Leau agrees, but only if Corinne does her a favor. With the help of her friends and four mermaids, Corinne travels across the ocean to find an opal for Mama D’Leau. But will she be able to find the children and who’s kidnapping them before it’s too late?
Rise of the Jumbiesis a very unusual book, but I really enjoyed it. It had a lot of suspense in it and kept me wanting to read more. I would recommend it for older kids, though, because there are some parts that can be hard for younger ones to understand and it sometimes has bloody scenes. As this is the second book in the series, it might also be easier to understand what’s happening in the story if you read the first book, The Jumbies, before this one.