Review: The Disillusioned by D.J. Williams

Brothers Danny and Sam Armstrong grew apart after an unconventional childhood. Their distant father and unstable mother were different people in the spotlight; together they worked to create one of the biggest evangelical ministries in America, with an impressive array of books, sermons, and a tremendous California church to their name. After their father’s death abroad and their mother’s unexpected suicide, Danny and Sam are drawn out of their separate lives and into a pulsating new adventure. Their mother’s final wishes mention Stella Adams, a woman that neither brother ever knew. When Danny and Sam attempt to discover her identity they unravel a series of shocking secrets and uncover a heart-wrenching history of child trafficking in Africa. When Danny goes missing in Zambia Sam must embark on a journey to find both his brother and the elusive Stella Adams, with spirited journalist Angela Reyes along for the ride. As the brothers uncover the secrets long hidden by their father they find in themselves the resolve to make a change and stop a ruthless trafficker who wields a fearsome reign over Africa and its children.

The Disillusioned, the explosive upcoming thriller from D.J. Williams, engulfs a remarkable variety of themes and delivers them in a solid and very original story. There are so many elements, and Williams divides his attention effortlessly among his various dynamics, from the complications of the ever-winding mystery to the simplicity of Sam and Angela’s static attraction. I could have easily engrossed myself in yet more of almost every subplot, but Williams knows exactly how to layer them into an impressively full story. The object of blending genres, plots, messages, and ideas into one cohesive novel is a task that requires a lot from the author, and Williams does it well. He’s sure of his footing and confident in his story, which contributes to the reader’s experience. All of his characters spark in their interactions, from the closer-growing relationship between essentially estranged brothers Sam and Danny, to the scenes between the imposing Ali Siatembo and his ruthless hired assassin, the joint sources at the root of the story’s villainy. The Disillusioned is atmospheric and its suspense carries grandiose dramatics, but there are also elements of the novel that take us on an emotional departure from fiction. Williams hauntingly portrays the bleak reality of child slavery set against Africa’s sweltering unrest. His depictions of child trafficking are often challenging and always heartbreaking to read, but in his efforts Williams actively sends a message to the reader and raises awareness for the tragic situation which affects many corners of the world.

I was also intrigued by the way Williams explores the power of faith from perspectives both inside and outside of religion. Of the Armstrong brothers, Sam is perhaps the most grudgingly detached from the church his father surrounded him with, and there’s a central focus on Sam’s efforts to maintain his faith in the hunt for his brother. It struck me several times how in-tuned Sam was with his own faith, regardless of how religiously active he was. It sent a powerful message of the unfailing power of faith and its ability to transcend definition. With a deep and affecting variety of emotions and messages, The Disillusioned pulls its reader headlong into the adventure and achieves an entertaining story of life, love, faith, and both the strength and fragility of the human spirit.


Title: The Disillusioned
Author: D.J. Williams
Genre: suspense
Publisher: WestBow Press
Release date: May 1, 2012
Source: D.J. Williams (c/o)
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The Disillusioned