Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Justice or Mercy?

Reviewed by Phee Paradise

The Call of Zulina by Kaye Marshall Strom

I like happy stories and I especially don’t like to read about cruelty, so when I realized The Call of Zulina is about the African slave trade, I was apprehensive. But Strom tells a strong story without unnecessary descriptions of brutality. The main character is the daughter of a slave trader and an African princess and it’s hard to know which of them is more evil. In spite of this, their daughter, Grace, learns compassion for the slaves and makes choices that puts her in the middle of their struggle.

The story is told with a rhythm that I assume is African. The phrasing and some of the language is a little different from normal English storytelling, which helps create a sense of the African setting. The plot moves forward quickly, with enough twists to keep the reader wondering what will happen next. My one complaint is that descriptions of places are weak and I couldn’t easily picture them or the character’s position within them. This confusion made me pause in the middle of some exciting scenes.

As the book moves to a climax, the issue of justice versus mercy arises. Grace must choose one or the other and strong arguments are made for each. It’s not an easy decision and I’m not sure there was a right answer for her. But she makes her decision and there’s a sweet ending as she finds her place in a world that has changed.

Pros: Nice handling of a difficult subject. Strong characters faced with complex decisions. A story that moves along and keeps the reader engaged.

Cons: Some spatial confusion, but this is minor.

You’ll like this book if you are looking for a slightly different voice.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Call Of Zulina

Abingdon Press (August 2009)


Kay Marshall Strom


Of Kay Marshall Strom’s 34 published books, four have been book club selections, nine have been translated into foreign languages, and one has been optioned for a movie.

Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, two prize-winning screenplays, books and stories for children, and booklets for writers. Her writing has appeared in several volumes, including More Than Conquerors, Amazing Love, The NIV Couple's Devotional Bible and The NIV Women's Devotional Bible, and The Bible for Today's Christian Woman.

Her work also is included in a number of compilations, including various books from the Stories for the Heart series. Her best-known book is Once Blind: The Life of John Newton, which is packaged with the recently released DVD Amazing Grace. She also has written several books with her husband, Dan Kline. Kay is a partner in Kline, Strom International, Inc., leaders in communication training. She currently lives in Eugene, Oregon.

As an activist against modern slavery, Kay Strom takes an indirect approach to calling attention to that issue with her newest fiction title, the first of three planned in the Grace in Africa series, set in West Africa in 1787.


Grace Winslow, the daughter of a mixed marriage between an English sea captain and an African princess, is swept up in a slave revolt after she escapes the family compound to avoid an odious betrothal.

As the truth about the fortress of Zulina unfolds, Grace begins to grasp the brutality and ferocity of the family─the capture and trade of slaves.

Despite being held for ransom, viciously maimed by a runaway slave, and threatened with death, Grace sympathizes with the plight of the captives. She is especially moved by the African Cabeto’s passion, determination, and willingness to sacrifice anything, including his own life, for his people’s freedom. Leaning on the faith of her nanny Mama Muco, Grace risks everything to follow her heart.

To read the first chapter of Call Of Zulina, click HERE

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