Private family tales witness a stormy past in The Messenger, a narrative centered around one of the most infamous family feuds in all of American history.
In 1892, at only six years old, Andrew Lee Chafin, was sent to live with his great Uncle William Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield, to go to school. Although the Hatfield-McCoy feud was said to be long over, remnants of the feud were still brewing between both sides. With lawmen on the hunt for Devil Anse’s sons, Cap and Johnse, Chafin was conscripted into bringing food and news from the Elder Hatfields to their sons, an experience that would forever change him and the trajectory of his life. Even in 1970, when an elderly Andy Chafin treats his grandson to cake and rare stories about the turn of the twentieth century, holding conversation about those days remains difficult for the relative and former messenger of an original Hatfield instigator.

The little boy’s placement in one perilous situation after another drives the prologue to the years after most public events of the famous feud had petered off. The thrill of whether this young boy can make it to the outlaw camp without getting caught stirs, by author design, doubts that the conflict ever entirely died out. Taunt between the boy that was and the grandfather who somehow survived, audience anxiety races into a breathless adventure of secrets and reactionary choices.

History has truth and gaps. Bringing both together over a reimagining of a grandfather’s stories to his grandson seals the massive Hatfield versus McCoy legend with closer, more personal insignia portraying how an innocent child who only wanted an education learned so much more about living than he could have ever imagined.

Author Claude Chafin’s writing is personal, memorable and eye-opening. Bringing to life the untold story of a remarkable young man and his role in a significant time during American history is no easy feat, yet Chafin captivates readers with grace and charm, putting us right into his grandfather’s shoes. The Messenger is a compelling, utterly fresh view of the aftermath of the Hatfield-McCoy feud in action.