Author Spotlight: Stephen Morris

6574307Stephen has degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladmir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. A former priest, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His previous academic writing has dealt primarily with Late Antiquity and Byzantine church life.

He is also the Chair of the CORE Executive of Inter-disciplinary.net and organizes annual conferences on aspects of the supernatural, evil and wickedness, and related subjects. It was an I-D.net project that took him to Prague for the first time in 2001 and he immediately fell in love with the city! He has been back many, MANY times!

Stephen, a Seattle native, is now a long-time New York resident and currently lives in Manhattan with his partner, Elliot.

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Wellspring (Come Hell or High Water #1)

15762042“Come Hell or High Water,” a terrifying historical-urban fantasy trilogy from first-time author Stephen Morris, erupts in 1356 as a witch’s curse rings out over Prague’s Old Town Square. As the old crone is bound to a stake and consumed by flames, her vengeful words set in motion a series of dark events that unfold across the centuries, culminating in the historic flood of August 2002 that threatens to destroy the city.

The novels alternate chapters set in medieval Prague and contemporary Prague (summer 2002). The chapters set in 1356-1357 incorporate a number of local Prague folktales and legends. These 1356 events alert Nadezhda that something very wrong indeed is afoot in Prague. Together with an elderly rabbi from Prague’s famous Jewish quarter, she sets out to avert the impending disaster.

In the summer of 2002, two academics attending a conference at the university – a Jesuit priest and a beautiful Irish professor (who is also a voracious Irish vampire-like creature known as the Dearg-due) – develop their own nefarious agendas. To access the enormous potential power to which the dead witch holds the key, they dupe a secretary into helping destroy the city by unravelling the protective magic built into the Charles Bridge itself that has defended the city since its construction. A small group of academics at that same university conference discover the threat and are forced by circumstances to practice the folk magic they have previously merely researched. They battle the Jesuit, the Dearg-due, the unwitting secretary and the forces of evil that threaten to destroy the city. The academics realize that once free, these forces will unleash a dark power that could undermine all of western civilization. The final confrontation occurs as the historic flood of Prague in 2002 is conjured to destroy the magical Charles Bridge which has protected the city for centuries.

Readers of David Devereux and Jim Butcher will respond to the authentic magical practices and the detective work in both aspects of the story as Nedezhda and the academics each sleuth for the source of the evil they see working itself out in the life of the city and their search for the magical practice(s) that will be able to avert the coming disaster. Readers of Mike Carrey’s Felix Castor books will appreciate the interaction of the living and the dead throughout the story while readers of Kate Griffen’s Matthew Swift series will enjoy the intimate association of the magic with specific moments and monuments of Prague’s history and culture. Fans of Robert Langdon’s adventures will appreciate the authentic history that is woven into the story.

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ABOUT THE(2)

I loved this! When someone really knows their subject it shows and this guy knows Prague, its history and mythology, inside out. Anyone who has been there will recognise the places he describes and be fascinated by the stories attached to them. The blend of the modern and the medieval worked really well and it reminded me of Peter Ackroyd’s Hawksmoor. Clearly, Morris has a fascination with the occult and his understanding of it, and of its place in medieval history, goes far beyond that found in most popular novels on the subject. I found the plot really interesting and can’t wait for the next in the trilogy. Above all, it is a great book to take to Prague itself. You’ll learn far more about what was going on under the surface of the old city than you will from any guidebook. Recommended.by Umberto3

One of the things that fascinates me about this book is the author’s ability to juxtapose the ancient with the modern without a sense of competition or compromise or confusion. I loved the honest portrayal of each of the characters and the sense I was able to build up that I ‘knew’ them and that relationship maintained my interest and curiosity – I was hooked right from the beginning! It is Morris’ ability to build and nurture relationships which makes this novel special – do yourself a favour and meet some fascinating characters and an intriguing and captivating city all whilst being exceptionally entertained.by Michele Huppert

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