Review: Freedom Seekers (Series)

Rating: ★★★★★

Alternate Series Title: In the old editions, this series was called The Riverboat Adventures. Now they are called the Freedom Seekers books.

Author: Lois Walfrid Johnson is an American author with Scandinavian roots. She is mainly known as the author of three series of young adult novels: Freedom Seekers (formerly The Riverboat Adventures), Adventures in the Northwoods, and Viking Quest. She has also written four devotional books, some aimed at young people. In all, she has written 38 books.

Genre: Young adult fiction, American fiction, historical fiction.


Freedom Seekers is comprised of six titles:

  1. Escape into the Night
  2. Race for Freedom
  3. Midnight Rescue
  4. The Swindler’s Treasure
  5. Mysterious Signal
  6. The Fiddler’s Secret


The Freedom Seekers series (1995-1998) follows the many journeys of Libby (Elizabeth) Norstad as she becomes involved in the Underground Railroad while living aboard a Mississippi steamboat. The books are set in 1857 and include thorough geographic and historical details, impeccably researched by the author, but presented for children. It would be difficult to find an author of Christian historical novels more thorough, accessible, or tactful than Lois Walfrid Johnson.

Each of the books has its own physical journey to follow, but there is also Libby’s spiritual journey, plainly and gently told by the author. Through the course of the books, Libby deals with a variety of emotions, including fear, shame, guilt, and sadness, and she deals with them both appropriately and inappropriately. She learns simple lessons about Christian living in each novel. Though all this occurs while she is learning the ways of the Underground Railroad, Libby’s character development is the crux of the series.

Libby struggles throughout the books with the ethical dilemmas that come with helping freed slaves in the 1850s. She and her friends risk their safety many times so that their friend Jordan and other freed slaves can avoid being returned to their owners.

The intense action in certain chapters (snakes, criminals, cliffs, and risk of drowning are occasional dangers) may be too much for very sensitive readers, but Lois Johnson does not overplay these risks.

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