Ted Morrissey is the author of the novels The Artist Spoke (2020), Mrs Saville (2018), Crowsong for the Stricken (2017), An Untimely Frost (2014), Men of Winter (2010, re-released 2013), the novelettes The Curvatures of Hurt and Figures in Blue, and the novella Weeping with an Ancient God (Twelve Winters). A new work in progress has been published as First Kings and Other Stories (Wordrunner). Mrs Saville won the Manhattan Book Award. Crowsong for the Stricken won the International Book Award in Literary Fiction from Book Fest, the American Fiction Award in Literary Fiction from American Book Fest, and it was a Kirkus Reviews Best Indie Book of 2017. His short stories, novel excerpts, poems, essays and reviews have appeared in more than eighty journals. He is also the author of three scholarly books: A Concise Summary and Analysis of The Mueller Report (2019), Trauma Theory As a Method for Understanding Literary Texts (Mellen, 2016), and The Beowulf Poet and His Real Monsters (2013), which won Edwin Mellen’s D. Simon Evans Prize for Distinguished Scholarship. He holds a PhD in English studies and lives just north of Springfield, Illinois. A William H. Gass scholar, several of his presentations on Gass’s work are archived at his 12 Winters Blog.
Contact: jtedmorrissey (at) gmail (dot) com
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She understood Plague was only a representation, a stand-in for death, yet also believed him a real thing too: a crowlike being, black – feathered and monstrous in his uncaring cruelty. Bitty stared at the figure, her heart quickening, nestled in its layers of clothing and her childish bosom, thin of flesh and avian of bone itself. The story said Plague had preyed on them since the arrival of the First Families, long ago. Perhaps he was an angry spirit left behind by the savage people who lived on the land before they arrived, one of their heathen idols, abndoned and brimming with malice.
Don't let the title fool you... this is far more than a biblical book... this goes into the depths of a person's soul using the biblical accounts and titles as a backbone to reach into the core of this story. In a very dreamlike manner, quite introspective as described on the author's website, award-winning author Ted Morrissey takes us on a journey interlinking three stories told from three different perspectives, and yet all traveling a very similar path through blinding snow. In a sense, the reader and the character's lose their sense of focus, but in a incredible way so as to delve deeper into the recesses of the human heart, the fears and haunting memories lurking in the shadows, which bring these three people into close contact with each other.
The first, a young girl named Bitty, trudges out into the 'white out' in search of a midwife for her mother who is on the verge of giving birth to her new brother or sister; the second, a farmer packed with a rifle and his dog in search of the coyote that ravaged his sheep herd, leaving behind a bloody trail across the snow drifts into the forest; and three, the village mortician, whose every waking moment is absorbed in death and ventures out to collect the latest casualties from the cold fingers of death stalking about the village.
From the outset, this captivating narrative reels you in with a very exquisite historical literary feel. The cold rips through you, even in just three chapters, and you are immediately drawn to these well-fleshed out characters.
Yet, in an unexpected turn, as I did not initially know this about this novel... you are left wondering about the next turn of events as this is presented as an ongoing work-in-progress, or a chapter by chapter gift to the readers who must tune in to the author's website and to other sites such as Wordrunner eChapbooks. As this is a first of its kind for The Historical Fiction Company, the rest of the tale is yet to be told, but the initial phase of the storyline is worth the wait in so many ways.
As an award winner, Mr Morrissey sets a high standard for historical literary, with some of his other books winning such awards as the Manhattan Book Award, the International Book Award in Literary Fiction from Book Fest, the American Fiction Award in Literary Fiction from American Book Fest, and Kirkus Review's Best Indie Book of 2017. His short stories, novel excepts, poems, essays and reviews have appeared in more than eighty journals.
Needless to say, then, is our strong recommendation to follow this award-worthy storyline, even if as readers we have to wait for another installment. We are including in this review some of our favorite passages to give you just a taste of the brilliantly written narrative.
Surely the skin-splitting cold would cause the dead to cry out. When he was a boy he fell through the ice and was saved by an older cousin. But he feared the cold would kill him before they could get him warm by a blazing fire. It was like he had shards of ice in his blood, and his limbs were freezing from the inside out, veins to muscle to skin. The dead must experience a similar sensation on a night frigid enough to freeze starlight, he thought. It must make them murmur for warmth beneath the malevolent, indifferent moon.
She lay on a bed and her stockinged calves and shoes protruded from a patchwork quilt. In spite of himself, he'd been calculating the length of her coffin since meeting her. Eutychus was like a tailor who sees everyone as their coat size.
“First Kings and Other Stories” by Ted Morrissey receives five stars from The Historical Fiction Company