One Sentence Synopsis
A young girl named Corrine must save her father and her island from the grips of a cruel jumbie.
“A seed is a promise, Corinne, a guarantee. Plant it and watch it grow.”
Do you remember when you fell in love with reading? I distinctly remember falling in love with books when I was young and devouring everything I could get my hands on. And I especially fell in love with books that nowadays would be classified as middle grade. There was just such a whimsical, magical quality to them that I just adored! They really ignited my love for reading and I’ve been a book nerd ever since.
Of course, as I grew up, I moved on to books geared towards young adults and adults. I kind of forgot about the entire middle grade genre, though I always remembered the way that had made me feel. Recently, I’ve been wanting to pick up some middle grade and, thankfully, I came across the perfect group to encourage me: Middle Grade Marvels! It’s a book club where we read a different middle grade book each month. It’s brought back that whimsy and wonder that I remember from when I was a kid! And there have been some fantastic books chosen by the group to read. In July, we chose to read The Jumbies and I’m so glad that we did!
The story follows a young girl named Corrine, who lives on a Caribbean island with her father. Her mother died a long time ago and, though Corrine misses her, she has a pretty great life with her dad. That is until one day when she wanders too far into the woods and catches the attention of one of the resident jumbies. Jumbies are magical and tricky creatures that claim the woods as their domain and aren’t fond of trespassers. Corrine soon finds herself in a struggle to save her father and her island.
Y’all, when I say this book swept me away! It was so beautifully crafted and atmospheric, I felt like I was on Corrine’s island, standing on the beach as I watched the waves. I loved the descriptions of the creepy woods, the resident creatures, and everything in-between! I think the author does a deft job of painting you a picture with her words and I was more than happy to get lost in it.
One of the aspects of this book that I absolutely loved was the lore. I had never heard of a jumbie before and it was fascinating to learn about all the different types! (Make sure to read the author’s note at the end to learn even more about them.) I could read an entire book that was just the history of each of the different creatures! Beyond that, the descriptions of island life and traditions were wonderful to read. It’s wonderful to see that representation in a middle grade book.
The main thing I loved about this book, though, was the characters. Corrine is such an incredible protaganist! She’s headstrong, fierce, kind, flawed… she’s so real that she practically leaps off the page. Does she always make the best decisions? Nope! But who did at her age? And I adored her relationship with the friends she makes as the book progresses. It reminded me of the awkwardness I felt when making new friends as a young girl. Speaking of her friends, I loved all the other characters, as well! They were nuanced and interesting, which made the whole reading experience that much more special.
I think the only thing that felt a little off to me was the pacing. Well… not so much the pacing as the length of the book, perhaps. Sometimes things felt a bit rushed when I would have liked to stay in the moment a little bit longer. This is especially true when it came to the end and Corrine’s background. I just wanted more! Thankfully, this just so happens to be the first book in a series, so I can dive back into this world.
Final thoughts: This book is a beautiful, atmospheric read that will transport you to the world of the Caribbean and jumbies. It’s incredibly interesting to learn about the culture and folklore. The characters are engaging and will worm their ways into your heart. Though this book felt like it went by too fast, it was a fun read and I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the series!