Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

It’ll Take You Past The Point Of No Return

Meghan journeys to the West Indies for drama on and off the stage, with The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes.

It’ll Take You Past The Point Of No Return

BOOK REPORT for The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Bazadee
Bonus Factors: Phantom of the Opera That's Not Annoying, West Indies, Drama Club, Love Triangle That Doesn't Suck, Suspense
Relationship Status: Faithfully

The Deal:

Esti Legard has been in her famous dad's shadow her whole life. he just died, and she convinces her mom to move from Ashland, Oregon and let her enroll in the famous Manchicay School in the West Indies -- her dad's pet project -- and work on her acting as both a way to figure out her own place on the stage and to help get over her grief. The school's in an old sugar plantation, and is supposedly haunted by a jumbee -- the restless spirit of a slave. Esti's first week there, she's in the auditorium practicing her audition for Juliet when a boy falls from the catwalk and is killed -- and she hears a mysterious, dead sexy voice coaching her in her ear. Soon she's wrapped up in Alan, her phantom acting coach, and the whole island is convinced she's crazy. The whole island, that is, except her childhood friend Rafe Solomon, the island's bad boy who's tamed by Esti and who draws her as magnetically as Alan.

BFF Charm: Yay

Ok, so Esti actually SUCKS as a bff (ask her friends Carmen and Lucia), but she really needs a bff to tell her she's not crazy and to help her stay off the Alan drugs. I'd actually probably be a really crappy bff for Esti because I'd be tempted to steal Rafe away and soothe him every time Esti breaks his heart, but I'd do my best to be loyal to her since she really needs someone who's not afraid of her, not trying to control her and not trying to get in her pants. She is a funny, sweet girl who's just really mixed up.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Keyes does a great job making you feel Alan's magnetism, even when you're squirming because he's SO EFFING CREEPY, and the scenes with Esti and Rafe just made me want to shout, "Just jump his bones already!!" She writes harlequin-lite makeout scenes, so this might be a book you want to read at work or on public transit AT YOUR OWN RISK, unless you don't mind blushing like a fire engine in front of strangers.

Talky Talk: Bazadee

Apparently, that means crazy or possessed by a jumbee in West Indian patois and it's my new favorite word. Keyes throws in quite a bit of dialect, mon, but it's not too excessive and it's believable since she grew up in the Virgin Islands and should know what she's talking about. She also manages to have Esti and Alan talk in mostly Shakespearean quotes in a way that's sexy and cool, not weirdo cape-wearing freak drama kid-ish.

Bonus Factor: Phantom of the Opera That's Not Annoying

I'll admit I never read the Leroux novel, and I'm sure it's not annoying either. But growing up in the 80s and 90s, I got more than my fill of the music of the night. At first, I was really afraid I was going to hate all the Phantom-y stuff, but somehow placing it in the West Indies and filling the story with obeah and jumbees and haunted slave plantation islands made it thrilling instead.

Bonus Factor: West Indies

Did you know this book is set in the West Indies? I don't know if I've mentioned that. Anyway, yay for a non-continental-U.S. setting! Especially one that's sexy and full of mystery and humid gloom and dark secrets.

Bonus Factor: Drama Club

I was never in drama club, but I love reading about drama clubs! I always wanted to be able to act, but anytime I tried out for a play, I always just got cast as the narrator. Apparently, I have great projection, but that's about it. Plus, I love Shakespeare! Even though I hate Romeo and Juliet! GAH WHY DIDN'T YOU JUST WAIT A MINUTE, STUPID ROMEO?!?

Bonus Factor: Love Triangle That Doesn't Suck

Oh, man. One of the sins I love to lay at SMeyer's door is the destruction of the awesome love triangle. In this book, it's girl meets boy, boy becomes stalker, girl meets other boy who has minor anger issues, but somehow it DOESN'T make you want to claw your eyes out. Maybe it's because the girl recognizes the freaky abusive nature of stalker ghosts and the need for a warm boyfriend who can teach you how to scuba dive, and doesn't spend all her time tripping and running into things.

Bonus Factor: Suspense

I couldn't resist stealing jenny's bonus factor for The Body Finder, and not just for the awesome picture. The Jumbee is a great book for Halloween -- ghosts, scary relationships, murder, Romeo and Juliet ...

Casting Call:


Shad Moss (Lil Bow Wow) as Rafe

You guys. He can totally handle Rafe -- hot, cocky, funny, son of a famous talent agent (Rafe, not Shad Moss), hot ... just try not to giggle when you call him "Bow Wow".


Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Esti

Relationship Status: Faithfully

Like the Journey song, I'd be hesitant to be caught in public reading it -- ye gods, the cover! Phantom of the Opera! The tagline ("Can she trust her heart to a voice in the dark?")!!! But I'll happily sing, "I'm forEEEEEEEVer yo-oooooooooouuuuursssss .... FAITHFULLY dern dern dern dern der" alone in my car, and I might just admit to close friends how much I really love that song (um, and everyone on the internet ... hi internet!), and I'll definitely defend it if I'm caught singing it (c'MON, it's SO catchy, and a poignant tale of long-distance love that remains strong). And that's how I feel about this book -- the cover may be lame, and the tagline embarrassing, but it totally makes Phantom of the Opera awesome again and it's one creeptastic, scary book that I couldn't put down, and found myself thinking about when I wasn't reading it, much like "Faithfully" is stuck in my head now.

I have a copy of this book to give away! Leave a comment on this post to enter, and get an additional entry if you let us know YOUR embarrassing guilty pleasure song (I like to reward public humiliation)! I'll pick a winner Sunday night (midnight EST, +5GMT), and I'll post the winner in the comments (so make sure you subscribe).

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free ARC I received from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). The Jumbee is available now!

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.