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HELLBENDER (Murder Ballads and Whiskey #2)

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  92 Ratings  ·  28 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 20, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 30, 2012 Anachronist rated it really liked it

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
Jared Bennett
Jan 10, 2013 Jared Bennett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*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
Jan 21, 2014 J.L. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: january-2014
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
Apr 17, 2013 Lee Howard rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2013 Rachel rated it did not like it
Shelves: southern-gothic
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
Nov 27, 2012 Mieneke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2012
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
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
Michael Brookes
Feb 01, 2014 Michael Brookes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Brawley
May 12, 2015 David Brawley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2015
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
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
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
B.  Barron
Mar 24, 2012 B. Barron rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2012 Kristin rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 23, 2012 Tom rated it it was amazing
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
Rory Costello
Jun 13, 2013 Rory Costello rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 21, 2012 Judah Davis rated it it was amazing
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
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
Oct 26, 2013 Jenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 12, 2012 Rusty rated it it was amazing
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.
Lavonne Doljac
Mar 27, 2014 Lavonne Doljac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 27, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
mountains & old magic & an ancient feud & traditions from former lands...what more do you need?
Nicole Wolverton
Apr 27, 2013 Nicole Wolverton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm fascinated by the subject of kitchen magic!
Mike Mehalek
Jul 26, 2014 Mike Mehalek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Scott Emerson
Jun 06, 2012 Scott Emerson rated it really liked it
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
T.K. Toppin
Nov 08, 2013 T.K. Toppin rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 28, 2015 Jeanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Henry and his family had just buried his sister. Her drowning under mysterious circumstances is at the center of this story of revenge, a feud, and old magic in the mountains of West Virginia. The writing is compelling and oftentimes practically lyrical. The action can take your breath away! I can't wait to read more from this author!
Jaimi Sk
Mar 05, 2013 Jaimi Sk rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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%
Blu rated it really liked it
Nov 14, 2012
Mary Russel
Mary Russel rated it it was amazing
Apr 03, 2015
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong format 3 157 Oct 15, 2012 11:37AM  
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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.” 14 likes
“It's Coke, my man. You really think I'm going to let you pour any more alcohol into your body tonight?” 3 likes
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