Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter

Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter

There are all kinds of angels. There are the sort that make grand pronouncements from God—bright, shining beings that are meant to be obeyed. They usually say their piece, and then they’re gone, leaving humans to make the best they can of the situation. That wasn’t the kind of angel that followed Henry Bright home from the Great War. No. This was the kind of angel who hung around and made suggestions, pretty much constantly.

Some were the kind Henry was keen to follow anyway, like taking up with the Colonel’s beautiful daughter and stealing her away to his cabin. But other suggestions led Henry to wandering down a trail on his angel-possessed horse, his newborn baby in a sling. With a wildfire at his back and the Colonel and his sons surely following along with murder in their eyes, Henry is in a mess of trouble. Fortunately for him, there are other kinds of angels.

Set in West Virginia in the early 1920s, Josh Ritter’s Bright’s Passage hums along with a magical and alluring rhythm. Like the best of ballads—and Josh Ritter is a top-flight balladeer—it contains a number of truths, dark and light. I almost passed this one by on account of its darkness, but the story found its way to sunlight, like a stream running from the blasted, shelled woods of a French battlefield to the soft, sweet meadow of home.