Jamaica Magazine

Reaper of Souls: A Novel of the 1957 Kendal Crash – Jamaican Book Review

Written by Staff Writer

About the Book :
The Kendal crash was, at the time, the world’s worst train catastrophe and the worst disaster in Jamaica’s history, taking more than 250 lives, including 14 from East’s family. Using the disaster as a backdrop, as well as eyewitness and survivor accounts, archival photographs, and the Commission of Inquiry Report (1958), East imagines a different outcome of the tragedy for the fictional Scott family.
Reaper of Souls begins on the day of the catastrophe and follows the Scotts as they leave Jamaica as part of the Great West Indian Migration to the United Kingdom in the late 1950s and early 1960s. However, not all the Scotts decide to leave. Shuttling between Jamaica and London, Reaper of Souls details the family’s attempts to adjust to and cope with their new lives as immigrants in a different world while trying to absorb their collective grief.

But Reaper of Souls is not just about loss. It is about rebirth and renewal. It is also a testament to strength, courage, faith, determination, perseverance and hope and the ability of the human spirit to survive and thrive even after unspeakable tragedy. 

Book Review:
 “Beverley East has put her heart and soul into this gripping family saga that shuttles between the past and present with the locomotive power of a speeding train.”
—Colin Channer, author of Waiting in Vain, Passing Through and The Girl With the Golden Shoes

“Beverley East honors the lives of all those impacted by the devastating tragedy of the Kendal train crash.”
—Elizabeth Nunez, award-winning author of Bruised Hibiscus and Prospero’s Daughter

“Like many other history-making events in the life of Jamaicans, the story of the Kendal Crash was only whispered like some mysterious duppy (ghost) story until Bev East courageously used her family’s tragic experience as grist for this touching and riveting story…”
—Barbara Ellington, The Gleaner 

About the Author

Beverley East is the best selling author of the nonfiction book Finding Mr. Write: a New Slant on Selecting the Perfect Mate (Random House). Her work has appeared in the anthologies Journey to a Blissful Life and Journey to My Brother’s Soul.  For six years she wrote a weekly column in the Sunday Gleaner and continues to write a bimonthly column in the Sunday Herald.

A graphologist, East has practiced the science of Forensic Document Examination for over 19 years. She received the Women of Achievement Award by Flori Roberts for being the only woman of color qualified and practicing handwriting analysis.
In 2003, she returned to Jamaica to complete Reaper of Souls.

Where to Get the Book:
Reaper of Souls is now available on Amazon.com and www.writeanalysis.com.

About the author

Staff Writer