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HELLBENDER (Murder Ballads and Whiskey #2)

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Although the Collins clan is steeped in Appalachian magic, Henry has never paid it much attention. But when his younger sister dies mysteriously Henry can't shake the feeling that the decades-old feud between his family and another is to blame. Strange things are happening at the edge of reality, deep in the forests and mountains of West Virginia.

If I could've carr
Kindle Edition, 232 pages
Published June 24th 2012 (first published November 19th 2011)
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A tale of a feudal murder told through mountain folklore magic.

I have come into this series with Hellbender first (albeit I have now bought The Devil and Preston Black) but I was not left for dead I was carried along and reassured I could see that adventure later on. There is a true warmth to the Collins community, Henry’s homecoming get together is wonderfully written and brings us an ensemble cast and has us sing a long with them at the end of night and like every good night out we are friends
Jared Bennett
*Won this book in Goodreads First Reads giveaway, thanks to all involved!*

An excellent book from an author coming into his own. If you've never been to the mountains of West Virginia, this book paints an excellent portrait of the land and the people who've become entwined with it over decades and centuries. A generations-old family feud comes to a boil with suspense, intrigue, colorful characters and backwoods folk magic permeating every page. I was impressed with the author's ability to corral
J. L.
Disclaimer: Jason Jack Miller is a friend of mine; he and I graduated from Seton Hill University together; and I have done volunteer work for the publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Additional note: I've read this series out of order, so I'm coming to HELLBENDER after already reading THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK and THE REVELATIONS OF PRESTON BLACK. It is possible to read any of the three out of order, as long as you understand that you are missing a little bit of background if you read HELLBENDER
Lee Howard
Mountain Magic

“It’s Johnny Cash with a fistful of copperheads singing the devil right back to hell.”

HELLBENDER, sophomore novel by Jason Jack Miller, is as much a sensory experience as his first in the Murder Ballads and Whiskey Series, THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK. Instead of Morgantown, HELLBENDER is set in the mountains of West Virginia, and with Miller’s descriptive skill, I got to experience the flora and fauna of the Appalachians: the sights, sounds, and smells of a place I’ve never been bu

Two Appalachian Mountains families, the Lewises and the Collinses, have been at war for something like a century. Each of those families have had witches among their folk so the fight has been bloody, dirty and mean. Janie Collins, a young college girl, is the next victim of the feud – officially the girl drowned in a river but her family know better. It was a murder by a spell. Her brother, Henry, comes to the funeral and promises to avenge his sister. Still he must also protect lovely
Welcome to wild and wonderful West Virginia but keep an eye out for snakes. Jason Jack Miller's Appalachian gothic tale explores twisty back roads where old-time clan feuds are not so distant and magic is still part of the every day. Henry Collins may not believe in his family history but he can't escape it.

Hellbender spins out like a fireside yarn told under the stars. Miller is an adept tour guide showing us the heartbreaking beauty of the mountains, introducing us to the way of life and belie
B.  Keith Barron
Subtle and Dangerous aptly describes the folk magic of the story. It feels different from the folk magic I am familiar with, but that regional differences for you. Still I like how you cannot be quite sure if its magic or something else (luck, drugs, the usual suspects).

It is a Hero's Journey adventure, complete with a trip to the Otherworld and a return to life (Very Joseph Campbell). I really, really liked that the protagonist had none of the oh-too-typical aversion to killing and revenge we g
Scott Emerson
With HELLBENDER Jason Jack Miller gives us a multi-generation blood feud between two Appalachian clans steeped in superstition and mountain magic. At its center is Henry Collins, a restless young writer having enough trouble finding his place in the world without the added burden of friction with the neighboring Lewis family. However, he's forced into action when his sister drowns in a supposed accident that bears the marks of supernatural influence.

Miller presents a vivid backdrop of southwest
Heidi Miller
Beautiful details of the West Virginia mountains are a wonderful backdrop to a modern day Hatfields and McCoys meets Romeo and Juliet. Time and reality can be distorted in this engaging tale about Henry Collins as he tries to come to terms with his sister's murder and the family witchcraft that seems to be the only protection he has from the rival Lewis clan.

Hellbender is a love story between Henry and Alex, but it is also a story about family and history, and most certainly about revenge.

Fantastic book! Five stars! Miller’s book isn’t perfect (I can’t think of many that are) but it comes damn near close. Miller captures protagonist Henry Collins’ voice perfectly, and from the prologue, I’m ready to follow Henry anywhere he takes me.

I never question what the book tells me about Appalachian magic. I’m totally sold. Giving Henry skepticism about his family history sells it. The action is well paced, the family ties are strong. Another strength is the descriptions of the landscape.
Jason Jack Miller does it again! If you liked The Devil and Preston Black, then Hellbender is going to knock your socks off and have you gasping for air. As expected, Miller’s characters were well developed – sincere and realistic. His scenic descriptions – excellent – in true Miller fashion. Miller’s vivid imagery of Appalachia is something special. It’s clear that he truly loves and appreciates the mountains, meadows, forests, rivers, fauna, music and culture of the area. I left southwestern P ...more
Darcia Helle
I have never been to the Appalachian Mountains. After reading this book, I feel like I know the area, as well as the people who call the land home.

Miller has a captivating writing style. His characters instantly come alive. Their journey is told in feelings and images that spark every sense. All of it captured me; the music, the traditions, the generations of family and how they related to one another, the feud, and the superstitions and witchcraft. This is one of those rare books that isn't ju
Michael Brookes
I'll start this review by simply saying that this is a superb horror read, like most good horror tales this book is more than the genre label implies. The story concerns Henry Collins and starts with the burial of his sister, quite naturally he takes the death hard and moves away from his his family to find his own solace. Events bring him back and he learns more about his family's past and the truth about some of the family legends.

It's a story of love and discovery set in the Apalacian mountai
Tye Tyson

Hellbender sweeps you into the Appalachian Mountains and makes you feel like you'll need the protection of the SATOR square. It has a Hatfield and McCoy feel, if the Hatfields could make you stop breathing by whispering a few words. It is unputdownable and a chilling read.
David Brawley
Hellbender is the followup novel to The Devil and Preston Black, but Preston doesn’t actually show up till rather late into the book, and isn’t the focus of this story. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed about that at first, and somewhat taken aback by the ramping up of violence and action this one started with. But it is set in the same universe, and does follow up on the events of the first book, so I set aside my reservations, and I’m glad I did.

The setup here is the climax of an ongoing
No other Appalachian book I know of covers this territory(if I don't know about it, please tell me).It inspired me to buy about twenty other books on Appalachian and kitchen magic, among other things.
Hellbender came as a complete surprise. I'd expected an urban fantasy with some supernatural elements and all that entails; instead I got a beautiful gothic story which mixed lyrical descriptions with some downright bloody dialogue and action. It was a pleasant surprise from an author I hadn't heard of before. While it was a great story, I did have some issues with the book.

The setting is key in Hellbender, I don't think the story would have worked even half so well if set in any other place. It
The Digital Ink  Spot
Jason Jack Miller wrote the novel Hellbender during his graduate studies at Seton Hill University. From that experience, Miller produced an amazing piece of prose. My reading of Hellbender was a full tilt sensory adventure. Miller can bring you into exactly what the character are observing. It is a joy to read. I loved it.
What I did not enjoy was the characters themselves. I felt I got to know each one well enough but Miller did not cause me to care for them. I think the atmosphere of the Appala
Kirsten Lenius
Hellbender is the second book in the Murder Ballads and Whiskey series. It begins with the burial of Henry Collins' sister and moves on into a story of star crossed lovers and a man who is forced to face the reality that the weight of his heritage is firmly resting upon his shoulders. It is up to Henry to solve the puzzle of his sister's death and to ensure that those who caused it pay for their acts.

Set in Appalachia, the story shows us aspects of the culture that belongs to the mountain folk o
I have NO idea how this book managed an average 4+ star rating. I found it free on Amazon for Kindle, and decided to read it right away because of the high ratings it had.

THIS BOOK IS PLOTLESS!! The book is basically a bunch of action scenes strung together with a few "drinking & singing around the campfire" scenes. There are probably only four scenes in the whole book that do anything to advance the plot. And there are so many holes in the plot, other than jumping straight into the middle o
Lavonne Doljac
I loved this book! Sucked me right in and couldn't put it down. Was just about half through the other night when I started reading and ended up reading it all the way to end. I couldn't even keep my eyes open, I was so tired but I couldn't put it down.
Rory Costello
I thought very highly of "The Devil and Preston Black" -- so I was happy to pick up "Hellbender" as well. It is a gripping story. Again Miller makes extremely good use of his location -- the West Virginia Tourism Board should pay him for his description of the state's natural beauty. The local music and magic (and the two are interwoven) are also fascinating. The action scenes had me physically tensed up as I read. Miller also has a poetic quality to his writing that brings James Dickey to mind. ...more
Judah Davis
The opening gave me chill bumps. Really can't wait to finish reading this book. I can tell I'm really going to like it. Full review will be up soon.
Finally finished. Have been knee deep in work mud. Excellent read full of culture and complex and interesting characters.
Once I got going it was hard to put it down. This guy is a talented author with a very unique way of stringing his words together. Every sentence is like poetry. I read a book like this very slowly as every sentence is a gourmet
Like magical Hatfields and McCoys...these folks fight with guns and spells. There's a lot of information about the devil, hexing,old folk magic in this book, all of it fascinating. The story is darkly funny, with twists, revenge, and even love. I read it in one sitting because I had to know how it ended. One word: awesome.
mountains & old magic & an ancient feud & traditions from former lands...what more do you need?
Nicole Wolverton
I'm fascinated by the subject of kitchen magic!
Mike Mehalek

Whew, now while the devil is preoccupied with figuring out what the heck that first line's all about, let me introduce you to Jason Jack Miller's killer novel Hellbender, and why if you only have time to read one book this year, it should be from the Murder Ballads and Whiskey series, specifically Hellbender which hints at what Miller and his writing is all about.

The reason for such a bold opening statement rises from the fact that are so many things worth saying about H
T.K. Toppin
It's pretty obvious that Jason Jack Miller knows his 'stuff.' From writing, music, people, the Appalachians, whiskey, and magic. This was a richly detailed tale, following Henry Collins through as he walked the mysterious and dangerous world of Old Magic, trying to set things right after the suspicious death of his sister. The opening scene alone was vivid and profound, and showed a funeral scene unlike any I've ever seen! Set against the West Virginia landscape, Miller wove a story, conjured it ...more
Jaimi Sk
This one did nothing for me. I gave up before I reached the last page. I had the book lying on my nightstand for more than a week and could never go past 50%
Orgeleuse marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2015
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong format 3 157 Oct 15, 2012 11:37AM  
Supernatural Fict...: Hellbender by Jason Miller 9 18 Dec 02, 2011 10:42AM  
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Jason Jack Miller knows it's silly to hold onto the Bohemian ideals of literature, music, and love above all else. But he doesn't care.

His own adventures paddling wild mountain rivers and playing Nirvana covers for less-than-enthusiastic crowds inspired his novels THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK, HELLBENDER, and THE REVELATIONS OF PRESTON BLACK, published by Raw Dog Screaming Press as part of his MURD
More about Jason Jack Miller...

Other Books in the Series

Murder Ballads and Whiskey (3 books)
  • The Devil and Preston Black (Murder Ballads and Whiskey)
  • The Revelations of Preston Black
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“May your glass always be full, may there always be a roof over your head, and may you dirty sinners be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead.” 11 likes
“It's Coke, my man. You really think I'm going to let you pour any more alcohol into your body tonight?” 2 likes
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