Piotr Stachiewicz (Polish, a cycle of illustrations portraying the life and legends of Jadwiga, “King” of Poland.) This scene depicts a drowned man she brought back to life by draping her cloak over his wet corpse.
Jadwiga, also known as Hedwig (without an “angry inch!”), was the first female monarch of the Kingdom of Poland, reigning from October 16, 1384 until her death (July 1399). Jadwiga was crowned “king,” reflecting the Polish lords’ opposition to her intended future husband, William; she married someone else instead but remained “king” herself.
Her marriage made the union of Poland and Lithuania possible, establishing a large state in eastern Central Europe. She established new hospitals, schools and churches, and restored older ones that had fallen into ruin. Jadwiga promoted the use of Polish rather than Latin in church services, especially the singing of hymns in Polish. She ordered that the Bible be translated into Polish. Jadwiga bought houses along a central street of Kraków in order to establish the university there. In accordance with Jadwiga’s last will, the university was partially financed through the sale of her jewels. Her charity led many to consider her a saint. She is said to have brought the dead to life on at least one occasion (see illustration above).
Poland has always been a source of fascinating tales and legends. Vampire stories were more common in Poland than in Transylvania (Romania). Vampire graves in Poland are recognised by the positioning of the body in the tomb: those thought to be vampires were buried face down, in the fetal position, with their heads cut off and placed between their legs, with wooden or metal pegs and studs piercing their bodies, or in a grave held down by rocks. Many such graves have been discovered in different parts of Poland. Underneath Kraków’s main square researchers discovered female skeletons laid in the fetal position, and in another town the body of a woman was found with her hand cut off and placed in her mouth.
“This is both a historical novel and a werewolf novel, and the combination is intriguingly like the experience of reading Dracula. The connection to Eastern Europe myths and legends gives this additional interest, and the portrayal of the setting, the prominence of the forest and field and superstitions, was well-done.
“My grandmother was Lithuanian, so I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the townspeople’s rituals and traditions. The contrast between the different countries was interesting and described with vigor and color. The action scenes were also done well and vividly….
“The characterization was really intriguing. Alexei was a deep character, doomed by his fatal flaw of wanting more and more experience and power, and suffering for it for years to come. I found myself sympathizing with him as he really was exploited, even if he at some level brought it on himself.
“Good work! The use of the old legends and suspicions really energized and individualized the story.” (comments by a Judge, 4th Annual Self-Published e-Book Awards)
“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 pipesmoke, 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
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