Bricktop Hill Books

An Independent Small Press

We are a literary publisher specializing in poetry, memoir, and fact-based historical fiction.

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“I was immediately drawn into reading Brenda Murphy’s When Light Breaks Through for its compelling characters and thought-provoking themes of forgiveness and peace. I particularly liked the story’s richly detailed and evocative worldbuilding of 17th-century Salem Village, the farming community, family life, disputes within and between families, land disputes, and power struggles. The characters and the story sprang to life through those details. “

Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers’ Favorite

When Light Breaks Through takes us beyond the witch trials to tell a riveting, expansive story about Salem Village. In 1692, twelve-year-old Ann Putnam becomes notorious as a ringleader of the “afflicted children” whose accusations of witchcraft against the people of Massachusetts and Maine lead to twenty executions and untold misery. Five years later, Joseph Green, a young schoolteacher who is in love and eager to marry, takes on the ministry of Salem Village that no one else will have and sets about mending the bitter divisions in the church and the village that the witch trials have intensified. As Joseph marries Elizabeth and they enter the life of the village, he gradually earns the respect and trust of his congregation, eventually taking some dramatic actions that move the people to confront their future together as a community.

Nine years after Joseph’s arrival, Ann asks his help, seeking forgiveness and the chance to become part of the community that has shunned her since the devastating effects of her actions during the witch trials. Together, they delve into the darkness of her past, uncovering startling truths about her family and her childhood motivations. Standing before the neighbors whose loved ones she has sent to jail or to their deaths, she makes an appeal that could finally unite the people in forgiveness.

The compelling narrative takes us from what begins as daring, adolescent games invented by Abigail Williams, the other ringleader in the witch trials, to the intense, often shocking drama of the trials themselves, and to the small farming village in 17th-century Massachusetts where Joseph Green pursues his quest to unite a bitterly divided people.

When Light Breaks Through is a fact-based historical novel. Its characters are based on real people. Its account of the witch trials and the public events surrounding them is grounded in public documents and historical research.


 Historically compelling, with ominous relevance to today’s social and political chaos.


This humane historical fiction from Murphy (author of After the Voyage) delves into the complexities of the witch trials of Salem Village at the dawn of the 18th century, offering a surprisingly hopeful look at how betrayal, loss, and guilt can change the lives of a community and shape history—but also at [how] those wounds can be healed. . . . what sets the novel apart is Murphy’s heartening examination of later events, as minister Joseph Green becomes an appointed preacher in Salem Village years later and transforms the famously miserable town into a space for healing and community. He meets Ann and other participants in the dark history of [Salem] and helps them navigate ways in which they can find confession and forgiveness amongst one another.

When Light Breaks Through is a showcase for Murphy’s mastery of historical events and their consequences over years, with a special emphasis on questions of belief in New England at that time as Joseph endeavors to shepherd his fractious new flock. Written with clear, engaging prose and a strong sense of what life actually felt like, this offers an intimate and hopeful take on a horrific patch of history.

–Booklife by Publisher’s Weekly

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Becoming Carlotta: A Biographical Novel

For the twenty years of her acting career, Carlotta Monterey was counted among the most beautiful women in America. Beginning life in 1888 as Hazel Tharsing, the daughter of a California fruit farmer, she grew up determined to matter in the world. At seventeen, she left Oakland to study acting in London. She married a British aristocrat and divorced him three years later to go back on the stage. After a liaison with a wealthy banker and marriages to the twenty-year-old son of her mother’s lover in San Francisco and to a famous artist in New York, she married America’s greatest playwright, Eugene O’Neill, a stormy union that endured until his death.

In each part of her life, Hazel reinvented herself to pursue a new ambition. Intensely shy, she learned to meet the world in the character of the actress Carlotta Monterey, by far her greatest acting role.

Becoming Carlotta is a biographical novel, an imagined narrative built on a base of facts with the goal of understanding Hazel Tharsing and what it meant for her to live her fascinating life as Carlotta Monterey. Along the way, it takes us to the cities and the back country of the Old West, to Edwardian London and an English country-house life reminiscent of Downton Abbey’s, to the Broadway theater in its golden age and the tough reality of the actor’s life on the road, and to bohemian Greenwich Village and Manhattan’s arty Smart Set in the 1920s. Through it all, Carlotta is an outsized presence, inventing endless new faces to meet the challenges that life throws her way and turning from every defeat and disillusionment to look ahead with newfound energy and determination.

Windham Critical Editions Series

In this volume, the stories written by John Hay are collected for the first time. Although Hay is best known as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt, he was also a well-known writer whose literary works include the ten-volume Abraham Lincoln: A History (with John G. Nicolay), the novel The Bread-Winners, poetry and the stories collected here. Included are “The Blood Seedling,” “Shelby Cabell,” “The Foster Brothers,” “Kane and Abel,” “Red, White, and Blue,” and “The Minstrel,” as well as additional manuscript material and a substantial critical introduction by Hay scholar George Monteiro.

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Roger Williams (c. 1603-1683) is known as the founder of Rhode Island as a refuge for those who were seeking religious tolerance and for his advocacy of the land rights of Native Americans. This volume is the first to print the thirty-two poems that were included within the text of his Key Into the Language of America (1643) as a collection of poetry eminently worthy of reading and study in itself. In his critical Introduction, poet and American Literature scholar George Monteiro makes the case for Williams as America’s first poet in English.

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Fiction and Memoir

In this Irish American story, the voyage to America after the Great Hunger proves just the beginning for two young people facing the challenges of a new life and eventually raising three children in a new country.  After the Voyage tells a story that is both remarkable and familiar to everyone whose ancestors made their way to and in America.  The events in the Terretts’ lives are as they emerge from the public record.  But their inner lives, their thoughts, their relationships, their words are imagined as a route to understanding these five complicated and fascinating people. 

After the Voyage at Amazon

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In this vibrant composite memoir of Valley Falls, Rhode Island, George Monteiro’s stories, poems, and sketches about his childhood in a Depression-Era New England mill town bring to life the colorful characters in its Portuguese American community.

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Some of the poems in The Pessoa Chronicles are expressed in the (imagined) voice of the great Modernist poet Fernando Pessoa speaking for himself.  Some are one of his heteronyms, individual voices for whom he created full biographies and full bodies of work that were not only distinctive and original but so distinguished that several have earned an honored place in the annals of world poetry. Many other poems are in an unidentified voice, usually indistinguishable from Monteiro’s.  The Pessoa Chronicles is a collection, a scrapbook, an accumulation, an offering, take your pick. 

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As the Crow Flies comes out of George Monteiro’s twenty-year fascination with the crows that have shared his Connecticut environs, giving much less attention to him than he gives to them.  Part observation, part response, part meditation, these poems offer a range of poetic techniques to match the many moods and states of mind in which Monteiro has encountered the crows of Windham.

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