The Dark Sun Rises

Written by Denise Williamson
Review by Meredith Campbell

For Joseph, a slave in 1834 South Carolina, the adage “a little learning is a dangerous thing” proves more than true. At the age of 25 Joseph is a favored manservant to Abram Callcott, planter, and devout Christian. At the time, state law forbid literacy training for slaves. Discovered secretly reading the Bible by Calcott’s son, Joseph is subjected to some of the most inhumane treatment this reviewer has ever read. Calcott hires Joseph out to a Charleston mill-owner to protect him and then pays for him to be secretly educated. His experiences in the city and his ardent faith motivate Joseph to thirst for knowledge and freedom. But how can he run away and disappoint Calcott, more of a father to him than a master? And what about Rosa, the beautiful mulatto housemaid, with her own tortured story?

In a novel that unashamedly promotes the Christian message, archetypes abound, but here, the device works. Superbly researched and documented, this page-turner does more than get across the Christian message. Williamson does a masterful job of showing the societal, legal, economic, and emotional damage that slavery entailed.