This book follows the activities of a slave factory in Africa at the decline on of the slave trade. It follows several main people, Father Finnigan who lives at the Slave Factory, Bowlu, a slave, and Captain Stephenson, who operates a slaver.
There are two stories running side by side, the first is Bowlu's, from when he is captured from the Mene tribe to when he leaves the slave factory, and that of Stephenson's boat arriving at the Slave Factory to purchase slaves.
This book had the potential to be particularly moving, particularly Bowlu's story, but in my opinion the clunky writing detracted from it. Unlike the other characters, Bowlu's narrative is in the first person and is in broken English. I can understand why the author has done this, he wants to get across the alieness of what is happening to him, but personally I just found that it detracted from what could be an emotional tale. It also took quite a while for me to understand who was actually narrating those chapters, which again detracted from the feeling of the novel.
Another issue that I had was that the ending was very abrupt. It didn't actually culminate a plot arc, it just gave you a run down of what happened to the ship, the slaves and the workers at the Slave Factory, ultimately it left me wondering what the point of the story was, which says a lot when any book like this should effectively be about why slavery is bad, or it should leave you with the impression that it is more accurately.
The one thing the book really left me grasping after was why Father Finnigan sent Bowlu away (and why he's pretending to be a priest), it just didn't make any sense because it wasn't explained.
I felt disappointed in this book, where it should have left me reeling about the horrible way people were treated during slavery, it just left me thinking about the clunky writing.