The Refiner’s Fire Series by Lynn Austin
First Book: Candle In The Darkness
General Age I would recommend it too: 13+
Genre: Historical Fiction, Drama, Romance
Junior year of high school I studied a lot about the Civil war, to be honest, it was never a time period I had really been interested in, but after so much intense study, I found myself wanting to read every material I could get my hands on. I feel like the Civil War is a very controversial yet pivotal point in American history, and there is so much to learn. I didn’t pick up this series thinking it was very serious. I picked up this series expecting an interesting historical romance, what I came away with was much better.
Summary: The story starts with Caroline Fletcher, a daughter of a rich plantation owner, wakes up to discover her nannies son, Grady is being sold. She is very traumatized by the experience, especially because Grady was a close friend. As Caroline grows up into the perfect Southern belle she begins feel burdened by the lifestyle she lives.Her father is constantly gone, running ships through the blockade. Her fiance is fighting on the front lines, she is completely alone except for the plantations slaves. The slaves are like family to her, she’s never viewed them as less than herself. Driven by her love for these people Caroline slowly begins to help the slaves runaway. She secretly hides slaves and helps free them all through the war, despite the friction and suspicion it causes among her society. The next two books follow Caroline’s cousin Julia from the North, as she sets out as a Union nurse. The last book follows Grady in his journey after getting sold and being a slave.
“I wanted to weep. Everywhere I went, it seemed that people wanted to discuss slavery, yet they talked about it as if it was an abstract concept. It wasn’t abstract to me. Slaves were real-life people with individual faces and souls. I knew some of those faces, loved some of those souls, and it broke my heart to be reminded of the truth about them—that Josiah and Tessie weren’t allowed to be man and wife; that Grady had been torn without warning from his mother’s arms; that Eli could be whipped for secretly preaching about Jesus in the pine grove or killed for knowing how to read.”
― Caroline Fletcher
Review: These books are powerful. They have the appearance of a typical historical romance and the titles are even more generic, but they are amazingly crafted stories. Lynn Austin does a fabulous job at showing the Civil war through the eyes of all sides of the war. You see the war through the eyes of plantation owners, Union nurses, slaves who are angry and slaves who cling to hope and faith. It was so awesome to read these while I was studying the history because they were so historically accurate and it all clicked. That being said, it wasn’t purely historical, it was also a beautiful, touching story with tender romance, uplifting messages and gripping plot. None of these plot lines seemed very original at first. I’m sure anyone who has read Civil War fiction has read about slaves, nurses and southern belles, but Lynn Austin writes with such an interesting perspective and strong writing, nothing came off as repetitive and I honestly couldn’t put these books down!
“We want to make our own plans and then pray, ‘My will be done, if you please Massa Jesus, in earth, as it is in my plans.’ You got to put your life in Jesus’ hands. Trust that in the end, whatever happens, He still in control.”
You probably will like these books if:
- You enjoy historical fiction
- You like books that make you think
- You like books that pull you in and grip your heart
You probably will not like these books if:
- You want something light and fun to read.
- You don’t want to read about the Civil War
Do you like historical fiction?
What was the last book you read that really made an impact on you?