Hello Book lovers and Happy Weekend! Welcome to my Blog Tour Stop for The Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste. Today, I’ll be sharing an excerpt for this thrilling middle grade book and a fun Q&A with the author.
Tracey Baptiste’s extraordinary 2015 novel The Jumbies was celebrated as a “spellbinding adaptation of a Haitian folktale” (Parents), with “endlessly addictive and hypnotic” storytelling (Essence). The Jumbies, which introduced middle-grade readers to the titular spirits that trick, steal, and go bump in the night in Afro-Caribbean stories, garnered remarkable praise from the Washington Post, Bustle, The Horn Book, and more. Baptiste’s 2017 follow-up, Rise of the Jumbies, was declared a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal and Kirkus, and called “a captivating tale” in a rave review from BookPage. This fall, Baptiste takes readers on the grandest adventure yet in the thrilling culmination of the trilogy, THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE!
In book three of the popular Jumbies series, Corinne must use her emerging supernatural powers to battle the angry god who would destroy her Caribbean island home.
Expected Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre(s): Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic
Format: Hardcover 272 pages
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Corinne knows that the sudden hurricane that sweeps through her seaside village is out of the ordinary. It’s tempting to blame the out-of-season storm on Mama D’Leau, the powerful jumbie of the sea. But then an even worse gale wracks the island, sending the terrified villagers out of their rain and wind-battered homes to seek the shelter of the mountain. There Corinne learns that the torrential weather is not the work of a slighted jumbie, but of the god Huracan, who is angry and seeking vengeance…but for what? It is up to Corinne, along with the help of her friends—and even some enemies—to seek answers and defend their island before Huracan succeeds in destroying it forever.
Fierce, courageous, and a natural born leader, Corinne embarks on her most challenging mission yet in THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE. Her previous adventures and mishaps with the capricious and sometimes cruel jumbies that share her island have given her a sense of both purpose and responsibility—she is determined to keep her people safe, and that means never backing down from a fight…especially a fight that she may have started. Buoyed by the love and support of her father, Pierre, and her friends Malik, Bouki, and Dru, Corinne stands up to face the greatest danger she’s ever encountered, and comes into her own emerging powers in a way we’ve never seen before.
With all the signature wit, whimsy, and breathtakingly vivid storytelling that readers have come to know and love from The Jumbies series, Tracey Baptiste delivers a stunning finale that will shock and delight young and old readers alike.
Corinne La Mer leapt from one tall coconut tree to another. Nothing but air surrounded her and there was only the sand and a few sharp rocks below. She landed on the rough trunk of the tree, slapping it hard with her palms and then wrapping her legs around it. She slipped and felt a rush of panic rise to her throat until she got the soles of her feet flat against the bark to grip her in place. Corinne looked down at the beach. Mrs. Duval, in a bright purple headwrap and a loose white blouse and colorful skirt, shaded her eyes as she peered into the tree.
“Don’t injure yourself before you get my coconuts, please,” she teased Corinne.
Next to Mrs. Duval was Corinne’s friend Malik. He shaded his face with a small hand, watching Corinne as she moved. His older brother, Bouki, wasn’t looking her way at all. He was focused on the road, hoping for one last customer before they called it a morning. Corinne caught her breath and returned to her task. It was dizzyingly high at the top of the coconut trees. Even in the shade of their large fan-like leaves, and with the sea breeze blowing to shore, the heat had her drenched in sweat. She panted as she reached up for a thick, yellow coconut. She twisted and twisted it until the tough stem snapped and then looked down to see where Malik was waiting to catch it, but the coconut slipped from her sweat-slick palm.
“Watch out!” she cried. Malik stepped nimbly out of the way, but Bouki, busily counting Mrs. Duval’s coins, didn’t hear her warning. The coconut grazed the side of his arm and dropped near his foot.
“You nearly killed me!” he yelled.
“I said ‘watch out.’” Corinne carefully climbed back down the sloping trunk. She had skinned the insides of her thighs climbing down before and had learned to use the soles of her feet to keep her body away from the bark. When she was close enough to the bottom, she pushed off the tree and landed near Bouki, who had lopped off the top of the coconut with a machete and passed it to Mrs. Duval. Mrs. Duval shook the coconut and screwed up her face.
“All these coconuts dry, dry these days. I thought it was rainy season already.” She peered up into the tree again. “Aren’t there any more up there?”
Bouki patted the trunk. “We only have what nature gives us,” he said.
“And whatever else you can grab,” Mrs. Duval added.
Bouki put on a fake look of offense as he pocketed her money, but it was not news to anyone that Bouki and Malik used to be thieves.
“They’re reformed,” Corinne said.
“Hmm. Reformed,” Mrs. Duval repeated, looking at the boys out of the corner of her eye. She sniffed the opening of the coconut and first sipped, then tipped it back and drank long. When she finally came up for air, there was a look of satisfaction on her face, but only for a moment. “You should go back to selling oranges,” Mrs. Duval said to Corinne. “Nothing on the island compares to your oranges.”
Corinne blushed, but her gaze flitted over the waves, and the compliment faded quickly. “I can’t only sell oranges, Mrs. Duval,” she said. “It’s not good business.”
“Ah, of course,” Mrs. Duval said, smiling. She turned to the beach, where a band of children played on the sand. She waved at them to catch their attention, and then pointed with the whole length of her arm to a pink house. They all went running.
Corinne waved at Laurent, the oldest of the bunch, who played cricket with her when he wasn’t doing chores or watching his younger siblings.
“I can send him along later,” Mrs. Duval said. “If you want to play.”
Corinne shook her head. “Maybe another time.”
“You know,” Mrs. Duval said, leaning in close. “You can’t watch the waves forever.” When Corinne didn’t answer, Mrs. Duval picked up all her coconuts by the stems and walked behind her children to their house.
The sea was bright blue and the sun reflected off the choppy waves in dazzling silver and gold. In the line of fishing boats near the horizon, Corinne could just make out her papa’s, even though it was impossible to see its bright yellow color. She had memorized the shape of it, so she could always pick out her papa on the waves.
“He’s safe, you know,” Bouki said.
“For now,” Corinne replied.
“You worry too much.”
Corinne turned from the sea to look at her friend. There had been a time when she didn’t worry. That was before her orange trees bore their first fruit, when she and her papa had their routine. He would wake her up in the morning and tell her to be careful on land, and she would tell him to mind that the sea didn’t swallow him up, and they would both promise to be safe. But then Severine came. She was beautiful at first, dreadful at their last encounter, and with her came all of the jumbies.
“You don’t worry enough,” Corinne told Bouki. She clutched the stone pendant of the necklace that hung near her heart, and rubbed its cracked surface with her thumb.
Corinne hadn’t believed in jumbies before Severine followed her out of the forest. She thought they were only stories that grown-ups told to scare the children on the island, stories about things that came out at night so little ones would stay in their beds. But then she encountered creatures with backward feet, women who shed their skin, and men covered in spiky fur with teeth as sharp as daggers. There was a jumbie who cared for the woods, and one who lived beneath the waves who would turn anyone into stone at a glance and who ruled the mermaids in the sea. Corinne had seen them all. But worse than that, she had witnessed their power, and she understood just how easy it was to succumb to any one of them.
She had nearly lost her papa to Severine, and Bouki to Mama D’Leau. It was enough to make anyone worry.
Months ago, when Corinne had dragged Severine into the sea and left her there, she had been sure that it was only a matter of time before the sea spat Severine back out.
“The sea doesn’t keep anything, Corinne,” her papa had told her. So today, and every day, she stayed near the shore watching the waves and waiting.
Corinne nicked the skin of her thumb on a sharp edge of her stone necklace. The stone had been her mama’s, and after Corinne had broken it, her papa had wrapped it in leather to hold it together again. In the months since, Corinne had rubbed some of the cracks smooth, but the stone did not soothe her like it used to.
“What is it we are looking for?” an old woman asked. She had appeared out of nowhere and stood next to them in the shade of the coconut tree.
“Witch!” Bouki said.
The witch picked up her walking stick and brought it down with force on Bouki’s right foot. The sparse few strands of her short white hair shook with her jab.
Bouki doubled over to nurse his foot and looked daggers at the white witch, but he knew enough not to say anything else.
“Good morning, neighbor,” Corinne said.
The witch knocked her walking stick on the trunk of the tree and squinted up at the fruit. “Any more good ones left?” she asked.
“All green,” Corinne said.
The witch nodded. “I don’t mind the young ones.”
Malik scrambled up the tree. The witch leaned against the trunk, letting her stick rest against its curve. She rubbed her left arm slowly.
Everything about the white witch looked like it was near expiration: the sun-bleached pattern on her dress, the threadbare wrap that tied her head, the few drooping twists of short white hair that refused to be contained in her headwrap. Even the skin of her body sagged loose around her bones as if it might detach and crumple around her at any moment. No one knew how old the white witch was. Even the oldest people in the villages remembered her as ancient when they were young.
Corinne watched the witch massage her damaged arm. It was even more shriveled and grayer than the rest of her, as if the life had been leached out of it. But at the end of her arm, her hand seemed more vibrant. Her fingers curled and stretched in short, jerking movements.
“Your hand is getting stronger,” Corinne said.
“There’s only two ways for a thing to go,” the witch said. “Better, or worse.” She stretched and bent her fingers as she looked out to sea. “What you looking out at the sea for? You already know what is under the water.”
Before Corinne could find an answer, Malik jumped to the ground holding a coconut with just the barest hint of yellow on the husk. He macheted the top off before presenting it to the witch.
The witch’s tongue jumped out in anticipation, flicking over her thin, dry lips. She took the husk in her good hand and drank deeply. Some of the water dribbled out the sides of her mouth, past a patch of gray chin-stubble, and down the dark, wrinkled folds of her throat, which made jerking movements like fresh fish bundled in a net.
She downed the entire contents in one go. Then she handed the coconut back to Malik. He moved to cut it open, but she shook her head. “There’s nothing there,” she said. She seemed to be discussing the sea, not the lack of jelly in the coconut.
Without another word, the witch shuffled off, kicking up pale sand.
“Didn’t I say that, brother?” Bouki asked. “Didn’t I tell her that nothing was going to happen?”
“Is that what I said?” the witch called over her shoulder. She maneuvered back around to face them. “Dunce. Who ever said nothing is going to happen?” She lifted her cane with some difficulty and gestured around her. Her loose dress rippled in the wind. “Something is always happening.” She moved her mouth in a way that made Corinne think she was rearranging her teeth before she continued. “Boy, nothing is as dull as you.”
“You think something else is going to happen,” Corinne said.
The witch shot her the same look of disdain she had turned on Bouki. “Something is happening right now,” she said. “And a moment after that something will happen again.” She cut her eyes at Bouki again. “Maybe you are spending too much time with this one. You were smarter when you were coming to the market alone. You will miss things if you keep wasting time standing guard at the sea. You think this is the only piece of shore? The only spread of water?” She stretched her ruined fingers again and muttered, “Only two ways for things to go, better or worse. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
They watched the witch as she bent the corner around a grove of coconut trees. It was only after she was out of sight that Bouki shouted, “She didn’t pay!”
How did you write THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE? All at once, or did you outline the story?
I didn’t think I had a 3rd jumbies book in me when Elise Howard asked me for one. And I was working on two other books at the time. So I started writing down little ideas on post-it notes and sticking them on the wall in my office. Eventually I had enough little ideas that I could see how the whole thing would come together. I outlined the story, something I usually don’t do, and then I started writing.
What were some surprises (good or bad) in creating a trilogy?
This wasn’t intended to be a trilogy. It has expanded by single books every time. Who knows where it will end at this point? The great part was that people wanted more and more jumbies, and if I had thought of a series at the beginning, I definitely would not have come up with the ideas that I did under pressure. The difficult part was that because I didn’t intended for it to be a series there were things I didn’t set up in the first novel which made things hard in book 2 and then book 3.
What gave you the idea for the series, and for how the story develops in THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE in particular?
I originally thought I wanted a series, but then it wasn’t bought as a series, so every book has had to develop on its own. The good news with that is that a reader could pick up any book in the series and start there. The idea for the jumbie god came while I was watching the awful hurricane season in 2017 and how it was devastating Caribbean nations. The Weather Channel mentioned a Carib god called Huracan. The Caribs are the indigenous people in Trinidad where I grew up. That was the very first thing I wrote on a post-it that went on my wall.
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE?
The moment that Corinne comes into her full jumbie powers when she is up in the mountains and goes to the fire to have a chat with Papa Bois is easily my favorite. It’s powerful and surprising and also a little bit gross.
If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be?
That it has to be treated like any other skill. It takes time and patience and courage, but it also needs to be nurtured. I’d remind myself to be gentle. I went to Catholic all girl schools my whole life, so being gentle was never on the menu.
What are you currently reading? What’s in your TBR pile?
Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli (I read at least one physics book a year), Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly, Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby, Ancient West African Kingdoms: Ghana, Mali, & Songhai by Mary Quigley (for research for a nonfiction book I’m writing), An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and quite a few others for both research and pleasure.
Do you write to music? If so, what were you listening to while you wrote THE JUMBIE GOD’S REVENGE?
I find it too distracting to write to music, but I often take dance breaks where my assistant Barkley and I, let off steam in between long writing sessions. My music choices for dance sessions are pretty eclectic. It could be anything from classical to pop to rock. Barkley is quite fond of Motown, but he is a terrible dancer. Two left feet. Two right ones, too.
Tracey Baptiste is a New York Times bestselling author who grew up in Trinidad and Tobago on jumbie stories and fairy tales. Moving to the United States at fifteen was one of the hardest and most exciting times of her life. Tracey is a former elementary teacher and editor. She writes everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, both fiction and nonfiction. She currently teaches at Lesley University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. You can find her online at traceybaptiste.wordpress.com and on Twitter: @TraceyBaptiste
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Thanks for stopping by lovelies! Happy reading and have a fantastic weekend!