Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Kay Marshall Strom's The Call of Zulina ~ Reviewed
The Call of Zulina (Grace in Africa)
Kay Marshall Strom
Paperback: 303 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (August 2009)
With the tensions between rival tribes and between native Africans and the white settlers, Africa in 1787 is a place of dangers and Grace Winslow plunges into the thick of the conflict. The daughter of an English slave trader and an African princess known as “the killer lioness,” Grace struggles to endure the strife in her home and the knowledge that she’s a disappointment to both her parents. Her father regrets she’s not the perfect English lady and her domineering mother abhors her for the tint of red to her hair and the hint of cream to her dark skin—in short, for her “whiteness.” She’s caught between two worlds and her home is in neither one.
All her life, her parents insulated her from the slave trade they practiced, so when she flees an arranged marriage and comes face-to-face with the realities of the slavery her family profits from, her shock knows no bounds. Her choices throw her in the company of slaves, and she risks her life in the war sweeping the African plains.
Call of the Zulina gives a fascinating glimpse into a little explored aspect of slavery—Africans enslaving and profiting off the sale of rival tribe members—and what the slave trade looked like at its origin point in Africa. It spares little detail exposing the brutality and the harsh reality of how men and women, white and black, sought to profit from the misery of others. The setting is drawn with vivid detail and the conflicts, internal and external, drive the story along at a good pace.
The omniscient POV—not my personal favorite—was my main complaint and a distraction at times; however, I still found much to enjoy in this compelling tale about one woman’s struggle with her heritage and identity on the gripping backdrop of the African plains.
Reviewed by: Sarah Sawyer