Love and horror in the context of the slave trade.
September 14, 2012
Love, horror, tenderness and absolute shame, in the context of the slave trade, drew me into the pages of the books of this series...so much so that I read all three of them in two days.
How mankind can treat other people in such a way is an abiding question of mine. To see this subject treated in an historical novel helps us to experience not only the fact of the pain of the suffering of those taken into slavery, but to experience it, alongside the characters, for ourselves as well.
Swept into the midst of a desperate slave rebellion, Grace finds herself forced to confront both the tragedies of the slave trade in Africa, the complicity of her mother and other Africans, and her own unknowing contribution to the plight of her new companions. Stroms writing is vivid and irresistible. The pacing is excellent, and, like Grace, I found myself inexorably pulled along by the action swirling around me as I read.Some of the moments of high-drama seem a bit clichd, but that sense of no-turning-back choices and intense declarations lend the book a big-screen movie production feel; Id love to see this title appear on the big screen. Likewise, some of Stroms characters seem a bit too typecast. Graces mother, for example, is pure evil, willing to sacrifice her child without a moments thought for her own purposes. As a mother I found it unbelievable that there wasnt any conflict present in her choices, as there was in those of Joseph Winslow.The Call of Zulina can certainly be classified as Christian fiction, but Strom integrates considerations of faith carefully, mainly questioning how those who claim to know God can live in ways that sanctify cruelty. The faith of the Winslows house slave Mama Muco and its influence on Graces perspective also play some role in the storyline, but theres no clear presentation of the gospel.While there are some very slight hints at romance as Graces admiration for the powerful leader Cabeto grows, the novels forward momentum is carried by the search for freedom that unites Grace with the Africans imprisoned at Zulina. The blending of a diverse array of African cultures lends authenticity and additional depth to The Call of Zulina.Its exciting to read a well-penned novel set outside of the typically European and American settings predominant in Christian historical fiction.