post written by Esther Filbrun
Title: Grace Triumphant
Author: Alicia Willis
Major Themes: Slavery, Abolition, William Wilberforce, John Newton, 1700s
Synopsis: Russell, captain of a slave ship, believes there is no God—but when his cabin boy has the audacity to tell him otherwise, will his conscience win out against logic?
A book that had me up late multiple nights in a row, Grace Triumphant is both insightful and inspiring. Writing about the slave trade is, I’m sure, extremely difficult. In some ways, it’s also very difficult to read about it because it was so horrible. Alicia Willis did an amazing job curbing the terrible things just enough that it’s not quite over-the-top (although some scenes are definitely not for younger children), and still portrayed a historically accurate and spiritually challenging tale.
Russell, captain of a slave ship, is taking on his second command at the beginning of the novel. While adamantly believing there is no God, Russell struggles with doubts about his stand and longs for freedom from the thoughts of what his now-dead Christian mother would feel if she knew of the lifestyle he is now leading.
Not far out of port, they are stopped by a British Man-of-War, and through succeeding events Russell ends up with a new cabin boy, Jack. Jack is struggling with his own problems—fear for his family since his impressment into the Navy, desire to stay true to his Christian faith, and dread of the things he might be forced to do against his conscience now that he’s on a slaver.
There is also Elizabeth, who is championing the abolition cause—while engaged against her will to a man adamantly against any thought of abolition. She longs to understand what God wants from her, and how she can lead her life—but with a controlling fiancé and tight social constraints, she isn’t sure how to go forward into the things her heart longs to do.
Through the lives of these three people, the era of William Wilberforce and John Newton is vividly portrayed. Throughout the story, the message of the gospel and Jesus’ love and care is displayed—and won’t be easily forgotten. Overall, Grace Triumphant is a great historical fiction novel, and also a wonderful tale of Christ and His love.
I received this story for free as a beta reader book, in exchange for an honest review.
WARNING: There is quite a bit of violence in the story, due to its setting. At multiple times there are men being killed, and several scenes describe the sailors interacting with the slave women (although the author was careful to remain as discreet as possible). There were also a few words used that I don’t approve of. This book is definitely not for young children.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy Grace Triumphant:
Keywords: Abolition, John Newton, Slavery, William Wilberforce