Book Reviews

Book Review: A light to my path

a light to my path
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A light to my path: Refiner’s fire Book #3

By Lynn Austin

423 pages

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Shackled in a world where authority is not questioned, where the will is battered as surely as the body, hope will not be denied. But broken chains bring daunting choices: The way of revenge or the way of the Spirit.

My synopsis and Review:

Warning: Some spoilers may be found beyond this point!!

Though beautifully written, that was a rather short and vague synopsis, so here’s my own.

Set during the turbulent civil war, Austin’s story depicts the lives of two different slaves. Grady is torn from his slave mother at nine years old and sold to an abusive and ill-tempered slave trader. After the initial trauma of being torn from his mother, his hatred for white men increases year after abusive year. Even when he is gambled away to a much kinder master, his hatred remains deeply embedded.

Anna, called “Kitty” is lucky enough to have become her mistress’ chambermaid and serves her mistress’ whims on a daily basis no matter what they might be. Though her mistress treats her like a pet, having given her the name “kitty’ when she was just a child, Kitty is blind to the mistreatment, and never questions it.

The lives of these two cross when Kitty’s mistress marries Master Fuller, Grady’s master.

Grady craves freedom, and despises the way Kitty is treated. He sees the maltreatment exactly for what it is and is continually dumbfounded when Kitty defends her mistress’ actions. The turning point comes when Grady finds out that Kitty is to be married off to another slave so that she can become a wet nurse for her mistress. Grady is furious and warns her of the consequences of this. He knows from experience that the white men will rip away a slave girl’s children without hesitation. She doesn’t believe him. Then he chooses to put himself in the position of her groom, in an effort to protect her from this.  But did he make the right decision? Will this prevent him from finding the freedom he so craves?

I loved this story. for multiple reasons. I’m a big fan of historical fiction, and with the romance thrown in there, it’s hard to go wrong. The characters’ backgrounds were gritty. They are slaves after all. Austin doesn’t water it down much, which helped build authenticity in the characters. The growth of Grady and Kitty was both gradual, and believable. “Preaching” was very limited, which is nice. Some authors are adept at letting the readers draw their own conclusions.  The themes covered deep, spiritual issues of love, hate, freedom, guidance, revenge. What does freedom look like? What happens when we actually have it? Where does our true freedom lie?

Both Anna’s parents and Grady’s parents had taught them bible verses, and about who Jesus was, about His love for them. Neither one of them believed, for various reasons. Grady battles his hatred for a long time before finally overcoming it. Even so, I don’t think he does, fully. It does not come easy by any means. Kitty’s ultimate realization of her maltreatment is also very gradual. Once the war is over, she has the choice of whether or not to stand up for herself, to accept her freedom. It’s difficult at first, for her to accept freedom, and she doesn’t quite know how to handle it.

There are several very emotional twists in this story that I’d rather you experience for yourself as a reader. It’s an emotionally wrought journey that these characters are forced to embark on because of the war. Grady’s love for Kitty is heartwarming, and helps to bring him out of this cocoon of hatred he’d built around himself. Another thing I enjoyed, and I always look for in the books I read, is how well all of the events connect with one another. Every event that occurred was significant to the overall plot.

I’m a big fan of many of Lynn Austin’s works. If you’re into historical fiction, this is a great read, with a nice romantic arc thrown into the mix.