About the Book
Book: The Spice King
Series: Hope and Glory #1
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release date: September 3, 2019
Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building a successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Tasked with gaining access to the private Delacroix plant collection, Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin unwittingly steps into a web of dangerous political intrigue and will be forced to choose between her heart and her loyalty to her country.
I love novels that are not afraid to ask the BIG questions. The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden is a wonderfully engaging read. The characters are excellently crafted and delightfully endearing. The historical detail is fascinating. I learned so much about the history of processed food. Unfortunately, since the 1800s, food has been a science experiment crafted in warehouses and labs. I am blown away by what some people were, and still are, willing to call food just so they could turn a profit. What I really love about The Spice King though is how it made me wrestle with BIG ideas, specifically with the question: is it ever wrong to tell the truth?
Very early on in the story, Annabelle, the heroine of The Spice King, is backed into a metaphorical corner and is sort of forced to spy on Gray Delacroix, the spice king. IF she is willing and is successful, Annabelle is told that a very lucrative job will be her reward. So she spies, finds some incriminating evidence, turns it into her military contacts, and receives her reward — a really good job with the Department of Agriculture. On the surface, Annabelle did the right thing. Treason is BAD. However, it bothered me — I mean really, really bugged me — that Annabelle spies and tells. Now, before you start to worry, NO, I am not a traitor to my country. I really do believe treason is BAD because it can lead to a lot of innocent people getting hurt. What I don’t agree with is Annabelle’s use of the truth as a weapon, which is what she does in order to personally profit. And I know this kind of truthtelling severely bothered Annabelle too because she has a brilliant Lady Macbeth moment: “All [Annabelle] could see was the splotch of old stain on the slate table before her. The stain of what she’d done … would be with her forever too.”
“But wait!” you’re saying. “I thought Jesus said in the Bible that the Truth will set you free. How can Annabelle be in the wrong?” I struggled with this as well until I really considered why we tell truths. Truth does set people free when it is told for the right reasons in the right context. I have no issue with a man or woman going through the necessary training to become an actual spy, taking on an actual mission, finding real intel on an enemy, and then relaying that information to the proper authorities. The general goal and heart of the person, in this case, is to keep others safe. My issue with Annabelle is her motivation. Annabelle does not spy to save lives. She does it to receive personal compensation. When I teach others the Truth of Jesus if my heart is in it for me and what I can earn, my truthtelling is wrong. But when I teach others about Jesus because I genuinely love them and want a soul change for them, my truthtelling is righteous. When Annabelle tells the truth she discovers it causes her to feel anxiety, pain, and heartache because she is selfish in her motivations. This really forced me to analyze my heart. What are my motivations behind my actions, words, and beliefs? Am I doing and saying the right things but for the wrong reasons? Or am I right on track?
I love, and highly recommend, The Spice King for many reasons, but the fantastic lesson on truthtelling that is weaved throughout the narrative makes this book an absolute must-read! The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden releases on September 3, 2019. I implore you to pre-order yourself a copy of this book today. I promise you will NOT want to miss out on this book.
I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.