Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Guest Post: Storm Wolf by Stephen Morris

Storm Wolf
Stephen Morris

Genre: fantasy/historical fantasy
Date of Publication: September 1, 2016
ISBN: ebook 978-0-9847731-0-
ISBN: Paperback 978-0-9847731-8-3
Number of pages: 392
Word Count: 116049
Cover Artist: Elliot Kreloff

Book Description:
"LIBAHUNT!" Alexei breaks the terms of the wolf-magic he inherited from his grandfather and loses the ability to control the shapeshifting. His grandfather's magical wolf-pelt was meant to protect their rural village in 1880s Estonia by fighting the terrible storms in the sky but instead, it drives Alexei to kill, slaughtering his neighbors, his friends —even his family.

Heartbroken, Alexei flees his home in search of an enchanter to free him from this hideous curse.  Wandering through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Bohemia, he encounters the Master of Wolves, who forces Alexei to terrorize and murder the local farmers, and the infamous Frau Bertha who traps all those who anger her by turning them into wolves. Will Alexei find a sorcerer who can free him?

 What Reviewers Are Saying About Storm Wolf

"Morris' werewolf isn't a fur-coated romantic, but a refreshingly murky protagonist who's both flawed and sympathetic; he kills innocents, but never intentionally. There are quite a few werewolf onslaughts, which the author unflinchingly portrays as bloody and brutal.... A dark supernatural outing, featuring indelible characters as sharp as wolves' teeth." -- Kirkus Reviews

"...a unique weaving together and retelling of central and eastern European werewolf folk tales. Set in 1890, when such tales were still being told, Storm Wolf stands apart from contemporary myth and legend retellings... The magic--Alexei's battles with storm creatures, the conjuring of a snake demon from pipe smoke, a witch's talisman of skin stripped from a sailor--is extraordinarily well imagined and described here. Dollops of regional history and glimpses of customs and legends are fascinating." -- Blue Ink Review

Guest Post: Estonia

Estonia? Where is it? Who has even heard of it?! Why set a story there, of all the God-forsaken places that you might possibly set a story?

It just so happens that Estonia, although little known to non-Estonians, has a fascinating although difficult-to-trace heritage of folklore and legends that set it apart from not only its Baltic neighbors (Latvia, Lithuania, Russia) but from almost everywhere else; traditional beliefs and practices survived in Estonia for much longer than in other regions of Europe. These traditional Estonian legends and folklore were primarily handed down via oral tradition until very recently; there were occasional references to Estonian beliefs and stories but no systematic attempt to write collect these and write them down until the 19th century. (The Brothers Grimm made their collection of stories, etc. almost 100 years before that.)

I picked up a book one day about folklore as I was researching another project and found a brief reference to the Estonian version of werewolf folklore: in Estonia, werewolves could fly and would drive away the storms that would otherwise devastate the farms and destroy the crops, resulting in starvation when winter came. They killed storm clouds and ate weather devils, not their neighbors. Because of this, werewolves were heroes, not monsters. I was shocked: Werewolves were the Good Guys?!

Because they were heroes, everyone in a village or district knew who the local werewolf was. It was an honored position. (The only other place that had an even slightly similar version of werewolf folklore is a small Italian region northeast of Venice where the werewolves are called “good walkers” and drive away witches that attempt to destroy the crops.) Estonian werewolves were so unlike their more commonly known cousins in other parts of Europe that it almost seems a shame to characterize them all with the same moniker as “werewolves.”

This distinctly Estonian version of flying heroic werewolf folklore set off fireworks in my imagination! Werewolves as heroes? In a traditional pre-modern, non-ironic culture?! This was too good an opportunity to pass by! I grabbed it and Alexei, my werewolf in 1880s Estonia, was born.

About the Author:  
With degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Academy, Stephen Morris brings his extensive knowledge and meticulous research in medieval magical practices to his historical and contemporary fantasy novels. In each of his novels, the magical and fantastic elements are all drawn from authentic occult beliefs and practices from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance or from local legends and folklore.

 “I first became interested in the occult and magic when I was very VERY young and saw The Wizard of Oz on television for the first and second times. The first time, my mom says I was terrified of the Wicked Witch’s appearance in Munchkin Land amidst smoke and flames and ran straight to bed! (I must have been 5 years old or so.) The next year I began watching the movie again and made myself stick with it past the appearance of the Witch and after that — I was hooked!

“The Wicked Witch of the West became my favorite character because not only is she the most interesting but she is the only one who wields any real power in the movie. She became my idol for years and years! (When a major storm recently struck Manhattan, I made a comment on FB about the wind picking up our house and depositing it atop someone wearing peppermint stripped stockings and glittering red shoes and my cousin responded: ‘You’ve been chasing those shoes for YEARS!’ LoL!)”

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. As a Project Leader with, he also organizes annual conferences on aspects of the supernatural, monsters, evil and wickedness, fairy tales and folk tales, and related subjects.

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


  1. The premise sounds good. I'd love to visit Estonia someday.

  2. Yes! It's a beautiful place! Worth adding to the MUST SEE list!