The Vapours

Fiction - Urban
220 Pages
Reviewed on 09/17/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

The Vapours by Selwyn Jeffers introduces readers to a phenomenal character, a very intelligent, charismatic, and charming business student who has the unusual gift of easily connecting with people. He is Shawn Beckford and his “decision making will change the landscape of this city.” He has developed strong connections from the streets to the boardroom, and no opportunity or resource can be denied him. But things take a different turn when he finds himself at the heart of a drug trade, thanks to his connections. He unwittingly finds himself as one of the most important players in Toronto’s underworld. Will he choose to pursue his education to be a reputable businessman or will the lure of the underworld become irresistible?

Selwyn Jeffers is a great storyteller and, aside from using a narrative voice that is compelling, the author creates characters that are fascinating, plunging them into complex situations and making it interesting to follow how they make decisions in the face of difficult situations. Shawn Beckford is a clever character, but does being clever come together with the wisdom to make intelligent choices? That is something the reader will want to find out. The writing is crisp and elegant and is enriched by the author’s unique gift for humor. The suspense is strong and it is one of the ingredients that hold the reader’s attention and make them want to see what happens to the characters. The Vapours has quick pacing, a unique plot structure, and an intriguing setting. It is a gripping tale of the power of connections and the irresistible pull of darkness.

Mamta Madhavan

Meet 22-year-old Shawn Beckford, a business student at the University of Ontario and also husband of Chantelle and father to 16-month-old Bryanna Evelyn in The Vapours by Selwyn Jeffers. The Vapours is his favorite hangout spot after school and it is run by Jaime Crocker, a divorced guy and a high school dropout. Shawn's connection with Vladimir leads him to the drug trade and he finds himself in Toronto's underworld. It is a dangerous world, snorting cocaine and watching mafia movies. Will Shawn get sucked into their shady exploits or will he be able to break free from their association, concentrate on his studies, and graduate? Will he be able to pursue his dreams of becoming a businessman?

The plot is fast paced and there are some interesting twists and turns as the story progresses. The conversational style of writing makes the scenes vivid and pulls the readers into the story, making it palpable for them. All the characters have been sketched well and they complement Shawn's character nicely. I like the way the author has portrayed Shawn. He stands out in the story, trying to maintain a balance at home, at university, and the drug world where he is trapped. The author seamlessly weaves together the plot of Shawn and his family life with that of his studies at the university and selling cocaine for Vladimir, and these all blend together perfectly without sounding forced. The chapters segue into the next one without losing any momentum and action.

Gisela Dixon

The Vapours by Selwyn Jeffers is a realistic novel set around the life of a young man named Shawn. The Vapours starts off as Shawn’s story and that is who we follow until the end. A bright young man, Shawn’s life is - on the surface - that of any typical young man in college, with friends, partying, working, and socializing. But there is something else which sets Shawn apart from his peers and that is his drive and involvement with side businesses and networking with people from various walks of life. Before we know it, Shawn is involved not only in dealing in drugs, but involved in the underground world of drugs, sex, prostitution, etc. The question of will this end in Shawn’s life going astray or will he manage to survive and thrive is what forms the plot of this novel.

The Vapours' plot and overall story line is one that is full of promise, and a lot of elements—some of which are relevant in today’s world—form a part of this plot. I did feel though that the execution fell a bit short of the concept perhaps, partly because of what I felt was an overdose and stereotyping of women and sex workers. Also, some of the parts of the story felt a bit repetitive and, in that sense, the book may have used some pruning. However, the plot is deep and keeps moving at a rapid pace. Shawn’s character himself is interesting and fits the role of a central protagonist in a novel such as this. This is an intriguing urban fiction novel that will probably appeal to a niche audience.

Ruffina Oserio

The Vapours by Selwyn Jeffers is a psychological thriller with a protagonist whose voice gripped me right off the bat: “I'm the gatekeeper for the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the educated and the ignorant. When I see you on the streets I can feel your energy, it's either admiration or contempt; you fear my dark skin; my stature intimidates you; my tattoo and physique make you feel uncomfortable.” I immediately wanted to know who Shawn "Banneker" Beckford is after reading these lines, and I bet it was a curiosity worth entertaining. The reader is introduced to a brilliant business student with a very unique gift for manipulating and connecting with people. But this gift leads him to a place he never dreamed he’d be — he is the gatekeeper of the underbelly of Toronto’s crime world. Does he have the courage to choose his personal path or the one enforced by fate, the one filled with danger and uncertainty?

Selwyn Jeffers has what it takes to get readers intoxicated with a character and this author keeps it real and hugely interesting. The protagonist is a character that readers will want to follow, imagined with great emotional and psychological depth and written into a context that is real and intriguing. The conflict is strong and mostly developed at the psychological level. The character development arc comes out clearly in the narrative and it follows the progression of the conflict and the ingenious plot structure. The Vapours is deftly written, balanced, and it features the kind of prose that entices the reader and allows points of view to come out clearly. I enjoyed the focused scenes, the insightful passages, and the exciting conflicts.