Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

Release Date: Oct. 14, 2010
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Thriller, Romance
Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads Summary:
When Esti Legard starts theater school on Cariba, she's determined to step out of the shadow of her late father, a famous Shakespearean actor. But on an island rife with superstition, Esti cannot escape the darkness. In the black of the theater, an alluring phantom voice known only as Alan becomes her brilliant drama tutor, while in the light of day Esti struggles to resist her magnetic attraction to Rafe, the local bad boy. Toppled sets, frightening rumors of jumbee ghosts, and brewing tropical storms culminate in a tantalizingly spooky finale where romance sizzles and truths are unmasked.

Review: If you know the basic plot of the Phantom of the Opera, then you know the plot to this book as well, but instead of singing, we have acting, specifically Shakespeare, and instead of Paris, the story is set on the fictional island of Cariba.

Esti Legard, the daughter of a late, great Shakespearian actor, is morning his death and trying to step out of his shadow at the same time. Her father’s friend talks them moving to Cariba for Esti’s senior year of high school and she is more than glad to get away for a fresh start.

Esti’s mom loses herself in wine, so Esti deals with her grief and insecurities by herself, that is until she hears the disembodied voice of her phantom/jumbee, aka Alan. He gives her acting tips and quotes Shakespeare and makes her feel great. Problem is, he won’t let her see him, and when they actually meet face to face, he wears a mask and gloves that he refuses to remove.

Being the phantom/jumbee is the story, we expect Alan to be crazy and he is that. He is also controlling, manipulative and violent (though not violent to Esti unless you consider kidnapping violent).

The other person in the book’s love triangle is Rafe, Esti’s childhood friend who comes home to Cariba for a visit. Rafe is the local gigolo who is best known for sleeping with half the girls on the island getting into fights. He sets out to make Esti his next conquest, but changes his mind in a jealous effort to prove to her that he is more honorable than Alan. He tells Esti that girls are predictable, needy and good for only one thing, except for her, of course. He has never met a girl like her before.

The thing is, Esti is exactly that: predictable and needy. She needs Alan voice in order to get through her everything and practically goes mad when she thinks he is breaking off their relationship. She needs Rafe to sleep with her so she can feel better about the break-up with Alan, and she keeps vacillating between them both. She predictably keeps going after Alan, and it takes a really long time before it occurs to her that always wearing the mask and gloves is creepy. She also did quite a bit of passing out and going into hysterics.

The Caribbean setting was beautifully described and the island lore interesting. Readers who like the original story of the phantom may find this more updated and modern version a good read. I did not find this book romantic but more of a lesson in unhealthy relationships.

Content: Some sexual situations between Rafe and Esti but nothing explicit.


Deepali said...

You know what, needy characters just don't work for me. Aside from the gorgeous setting, I'm not sure this story would appeal.

Deepali said...

Thanks for the visit! I'm following you back :)
Space opera - a good place to start would be David Weber - several of his books are available for free at
Another series which is a good place to start is Sirantha Jax by Ann Aguirre.

Hope you get a chance to read this genre!


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