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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recommended Read: The Call of Zulina


The Call of Zulina
By Kay Marshall Strom
An Abingdon Press book

I am highly impressed with this book. There is nothing I love more than a sweeping story of adventure and trials. Books that are not easily predictable are hard to find.

This one is one of those books. Kay Marshall Strom does an outstanding job and I stayed up late at night, periodically getting up and pacing to fight the end-of-day fatigue just so I could finish it.

What’s so great about it:
1. A grand, large-scale cast of characters, beautifully woven together.
2. A grab-you-by-the-throat ambitious and far reaching plot that sucks you in and keeps you there.
3. An interesting look at slavery from an angle that few delve into.
4. An honest to goodness non-romance historical (a rare find in CBA).
5. Fascinating characters and character studies—even with the characters you hate.
6. The subtle touch of the faith element.
7. It does not shy away from the violence humans commit upon each other. It is gritty yet not too graphic—the perfect blend and balance.

I should also mention another of the author’s strengths—being mean to her characters. I and other writers have a tough time “being mean” to our characters. Not so this book. I was flabbergasted and awed by what she put her lead character through.

What could’ve used improvement:
1. A few minor rough edges in the telling of the tale but nothing out of the ordinary for the wide breadth and scope of this story.
2. The fate of London House—it was not covered in detail. Part of the reason may perhaps be because it will tie into future sequels, but I did feel just a titch cheated that this aspect of the story wasn’t covered in more detail.
3. No direct closure with regard to the evil character. However, I have a feeling, like MacGyver’s arch-nemesis Murdoc, the evil character will be seen again in the future.

This book was a wonderful find and at just the right time. I confess, I get a little frustrated because it is so hard to find historical fiction (19th century American being my favorite) that isn’t romance (I don’t mind reading romance occasionally but I don’t want it to be 100% of my book diet either). This book wasn’t 19th century and it wasn’t set in America, but it stepped in to fill that great void and I much appreciated it. While two of the characters hinted at a future romance, it was very faintly part of the story.

My hat is off to Ms. Strom for a job well done and to Abingdon Press for feeding the needs of this historical non-romance reader!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great review of "The Call of Zulina." As you know, it is book 1 of a trilogy. I'm pleased to tell you that most of your questions will come together in book 2, "The Voyage of Promise," to be released the first of September (available now for presale at Further hint: Book 3,"The Triumph of Grace," out Feb 1, will take you to America!

~Kay Marshall Strom

B.K. Jackson said...

That is great news! I will definitely stay tuned for the sequels. Thanks!