Review: The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Jumbee by Pamela KeyesJumbee by Pamela Keyes
Published by Penguin on 2010-10-14
Genres: Horror & Ghost Stories, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Theater, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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 can't 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. Laced with eerie mystery and the lush scenery of the West Indies, this modern Phantom is perfect for readers who like their love stories served with spine-tingling suspense.

A jumbee is not a type of drink you can buy at Jamba Juice, as I had assumed. In actuality, a jumbee is a type of ghost or phantom that haunts a Caribbean island. Sometimes the jumbees are good, in which case they are called moko jumbee but must of the time they are bad guys who just want to cause trouble, much like Peeves from Harry Potter.

The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes is a re-telling of the Phantom of the Opera. The premise being that a bright young new girl, Esti, moves to the Caribbean after the death of her famous actor father. Esti immediately takes to the stage, after which an inordinate amount of accidents keep happening to the people around her. Of course, the locals think the stage is haunted by a jumbee. Esti then begins to fall head over heels for a voice that guides her and performs Shakespeare with her.

I will say my experience with Phantom of the Opera is limited to seeing the movie like 3 times. And, hey, that movie… pretty good. (Or else I have bad taste, but okay Girard FREAKIN Butler as the Phantom, don’t hate all up on me).  Really, the only thing I can think of off the top of my head is that song that people play on Halloween with the organ. I am pretty sure that is from the musical.

For the most part, I quite enjoyed the Jumbee by Pamela Keyes. I was a bit skeptical, because the cover to me is not all that pretty. However, after the first 20 or so pages, once I got a feel for the plot, I really got into the story. The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes is divided into three acts, like a play. However, it’s not told in play form. The writing flows quite well. I have a tendency to get lost and confused when Shakespeare is involved (in The Jumbee they put on Romeo and Juliet), and I found myself able to understand the story unlike a certain other book that takes place in a theater, involves Shakespeare and a whole lot of confusion.

I enjoyed reading about Esti’s inner tourmoil as she tries to escape from her father’s shadow. Esti wants to make a name for herself on her own, not some family legacy. I like that sort of tenacity where people try to earn things on their own merits, not someone else’s accomplishments.

Of course, there is a love triangle. I won’t say much on that, as we all know love triangles have been done over and over. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of new to add.

As for the take on Phantom of the Opera, I am no expert on the musical or the book, as you saw above, but I do think The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes adds a great new flavor to the story. It was quite an enchanting tale, and definitely a nice change of pace. Please, more books set in the theater, minus the crazy, dear publishers.

Other Review(s):

Reading Vacation

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. This looks so good! i hope to read it soon. i like the comparisons to phantom of the opera!

  2. I’m glad that you enjoyed this one! I did as well 🙂 Oh, and I enjoyed The Phantom of the Opera as well 🙂

  3. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

    A retelling of POTO? How did I not know this book existed prior to this review?! I must purchase this.

    Btw I share your enthusiasm for Gerard <3

  4. A retelling of the Phantom of the Opera with poc characters (how sad is it that I assumed it was about white people who were rich and simply moved to the West Indies. I disappoint myself sometimes. haha)!! Say wha?? I love Gerard Butler as the phantom, and I LOVE the music from the actual opera. Adding this to my TBR, obvs.


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