Come Hell or High Water: The Complete Trilogy by Stephen Morris
Come Hell or High Water: The Complete Trilogy opens its tale in Prague in the year 1356, with the story of an old woman Fen’ka, who has been accused of witchcraft by the townsfolk and burned alive at the stake. In her last moments, she cries to the skies for a curse to plague Prague and for nightmares to come alive for all of those who remain. The remainder of these stories bounces back and forth between Prague in 1356 and Prague in 2002, linking the past and the present, and bringing the curse to life. Fen’ka begins to present herself subtly in the contemporary world, bringing ominous messages to those she encounters in 2002. The medieval and modern tales work parallel yet against each other in this novel, as each story works with the disaster that was set forth by Fen’ka. While a Rabbi and a young woman Nadezhda work in 1356 to counter the jinx and relieve Prague of the doom, a priest and a professor (who is also a cursed creature) in 2002 manipulate and twist their way into the reawakening Fen’ka’s hex. Where there is evil, however, there is good – and the success of the revitalization can only proceed so far without opposition. Survival of Prague in the present day lies on the shoulders of a small group of underdogs – inexperienced academics.
In Come Hell or High Water, Stephen Morris creates a world that is both our own and one that we do not recognize. With descriptive language and flowery details, the image that is created by Morris is thorough and full, and little is left undetailed or undescribed. This works with the reader to establish that the Prague in the story is the one that we know in the present day – but with subtle differences. Readers know an Earth without magic; however, Morris creates a magic that not only exists within our world, but is believable. Without an author who is able to create a realistic world, Come Hell or High Water would not have been as successful in storytelling as it was. An understanding by Morris of the readers also allowed him to create a story that was thrilling from the beginning: when Fen’ka opened her narrative as the townsfolk began an uprising against her, it was able to draw the attention of the audience and immediately immerse them in 1356 Prague. Without this ability of the author, the novel may have fell flat from the opening. The writing of the trilogy is comprehensive and appeals to an educated audience, leaving a novel that is entertaining, intelligent, and exciting.
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