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3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  870 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
The raw and as-insane-as-anticipated first novel from Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana

The Donnybrook is a three-day bare-knuckle tournament held on a thousand-acre plot out in the sticks of southern Indiana. Twenty fighters. One wire-fence ring. Fight until only one man is left standing while a rowdy festival of onlookers—drunk and high on whatever's on o
Trade Paperback, 242 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by FSG Originals (first published January 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,684)
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Jan 02, 2014 Kemper rated it really liked it
You say you’d like to spend a weekend getting drunk out in the countryside while watching a bunch of rednecks beat each other bloody with their bare hands? I’ve got just the place. Toss a cooler loaded with beer into the back of your El Camino, do a bump of that crank you scored off that stripper back at the club, make sure that pistol under your seat has a round in the chamber, crank up that cassette tape of Lynard Skynard and then hit the gas so you can join your fellow sports fans at the Donn ...more
Dᴀɴ 2.❄
Dec 28, 2015 Dᴀɴ 2.❄ rated it really liked it

Go ahead and throw this one onto the pile of yet another really solid entry into what is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres: Hick Lit. I’ll be damned, if this don’t pack one hell of a punch (pun intended). The language is spot on, and the writing is so ridiculously good, you might need to elevate it into that realm of literary fiction. This book is intense, and brutal, and ultraviolent, and just relentless, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but at times it can all be a bit much. It’s
Holy shit snacks, people. This book is intense!!! I need a moment to compose myself. But there will be a review.

I was already familiar with Frank Bill's writing after surviving a close encounter with his debut -- the short story collection Crimes In Southern Indiana. Upon finishing those stories, my only thought was: "Jesus Christ, this man is a lunatic" -- and then immediately, "I want more!" For sure the stories are raw and unpolished, and perhaps a little too overeager to tell rather than sh
Apr 09, 2013 Greg rated it liked it
"I don't make threats. I offer moments to reconcile one's shitty choices."

Fuck, this is a violent book.

I think I described reading the Flannery O'Connor book last week as being like getting punched in the face, and then kicked in the stomach, and blah blah blah repeating different places you can get hit.

That was more on the emotional level though.

This book is sort of like getting pistol whipped, having your forehead cracked open with some short elbows, beaten in various ways while laying curle
Mar 22, 2013 Jacob rated it it was amazing
March 2013

Q. How do I get to Carnegie Hall?
A. Practice, practice, practice!
Q. How do I get to the Donnybrook?
A. Just follow the trail of bodies--or make one of your own!

The Donnybrook, a meth- and booze-fueled bare-knuckle tournament deep in the heart of Southern Indiana, is an orgy of violence that would make attendees of its original Irish namesake piss themselves in fear. Three days of fighting, twenty fighters per round, last one standing wins a hundred grand. Jarhead Johnny Earl needs that
Dec 20, 2013 Jonfaith rated it it was ok

(I did consider writing Mr. Bill. I typing writing that. I don't reflect enough on the virtues of Play-Doh.)

Dear Frank Bill,

I suppose it preferable to trace my position broadly, at least in the beginning. You see, I am reluctant to admit most positions. Life is too exceptional for specifics. My admission tends to dovetail with my respect for literature. Maybe that respect should be a love. Accuse me of indecent infatuations with books. Go ahead. One of the redeeming aspects of literature for me
Apr 06, 2013 Still rated it it was amazing
Hyper-violent, apocalyptic and at times as cartoonish as one of Robert E. Howard's Sailor Steve Costigan stories, this novel is a fast read that will give the reader a contact stove-top meth rush without the searing burn.

The approximate plot of this novel is an account of how a backwoods bare-knuckle brawler from Hazard, Kentucky- one Jarhead Johnny Earl -in order to feed his two young sons and obtain medical treatment for his OxyContin-dependent wife, must make an almost biblical trek to enter
The Shayne-Train
Oct 22, 2013 The Shayne-Train rated it it was amazing
oh, jesus christ, this book....
this book is brutal.
this book is fight after fight after fight after fight.
this book is full of shitty people doing shitty things to other shitty people.
this book has crank stuffed into every paragraph, and blood clotting on each page's margins.
this book is damn near perfect.
Mar 12, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, noir, thriller
Check out my Interview with this author on this new book of his >>>

Grabs you by the jugular into one helluva wild ride and wont let go till its final page.
Delivering words in sentences with precision and control that set the scene, sometimes in rapid fire motion.
Darker than dark, a world unto its own with characters and happenings that rise up from the pages and will fester in your mind with vivid and powerful images of a feast of grit, blo
Richard Thomas
Apr 17, 2013 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing

If your best chance of securing a future is to fight in a “Donnybrook,” a three day fighting match where ponying up $1,000 gets you in, and your chances of getting out in one piece are slim, then maybe you need to reconsider the path you have chosen. Frank Bill’s gritty, violent, and grim debut novel, Donnybrook (FSG Originals) is not for the faint of heart, as the body count is high, and the actions desperate and brutal. But buried in the brui
Jesse A
Apr 16, 2015 Jesse A rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-it-up
I seriously doubt I will ever read this again but man what a brutal, punishing thrill ride.
Apr 21, 2013 Jonpaul rated it did not like it
Easily one of the worst pieces of crap ever published.
Jan 14, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
13/1 - This is some seriously sick writing! I don't know why the police even bother trying to catch the criminals, just let them kill each other (and themselves) and don't get in their way. Frank Bill has one of the most twisted imaginations (well, I hope it's his imagination) that I've ever read. He's possibly only bested by Edward Lorn, due to the horror factor that's an added bonus in Lorn's books. Bill's writing doesn't really have horror, as it feels too close to the truth of life in Southe ...more
Nigel Bird
Mar 05, 2013 Nigel Bird rated it it was amazing
I received my copy of Donnybrook as an advanced review copy from William Heinemann and was very excited to find it in the post on the day it arrived.

My excitement was based upon my love of Frank Bill’s collection ‘Crimes In Southern Indiana’ and other stories of his that are peppered around the internet and a range of highly-regarded anthologies.

I had a strong sense about the world I’d be entering – something strong and dark and gritty – but was unsure of the author’s ability to complete a novel
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

Jarhead Earl is desperate. His children, Zeek and Caleb, and their mother, Tammy, don’t have enough to eat, and Jarhead is determined to remedy that. As Donnybrook opens, we join Jarhead as he’s robbing a gun store of the $1000 he needs for his entry fee into Donnybrook (he plans to pay it back, too), a 3-day bare-knuckle fighting tournament in the backwoods of southern Indiana with a huge cash prize for the man that comes
Liz Ellen Vogan
May 16, 2013 Liz Ellen Vogan rated it it was ok
I noticed the blurbs on the back of this book by Daniel Woodrell and Bonnie Jo Campbell and thought "perfect". I am drawn to novels that explore rural poverty and violence. But unlike Woodrell or Campbell, this one felt exploitative and lacked depth. There was nowhere near enough development of the three characters that had any potential redeeming qualities (Jarhead, Whalen, and Purcell). There were many opportunities to delve deeper into the story that just didn't happen, and that is a shame be ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Tony rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels, setting-us
I picked this up while on a trip to Indiana, mainly because when I travel I like to read fiction set in the area I'm visiting. The book's premise also caught my attention -- various colorful characters make their way to a famous annual bare-knuckles cage match tournament where the winner takes home $100,000. Unfortunately, despite it being a quick read, it's boring -- mainly because there is little to differentiate any of the characters or their actions.

I have no issue with violence in film or f
Jun 11, 2013 Shannon rated it really liked it
All right! A little misogynistic novel for subway reading featuring a few female characters in various states of peril (victims of incest, meth, pills, attempted rapes, beatings, gunshots). Two men fighting their way to Donnybrook for a payoff. Also a random Chinese martial arts pro. Another character with a randomly redneck reason for going to Donnybrook. Racism. When all is said and done, there is barely a full mouth of teeth left among them.

That's right, in case you were unsure, this novel i
Mar 24, 2013 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one'll leave you gasping for air, shredded, and possibly bowels-evacuated. Visceral is an understatement. I read it in two days, so it's a page-turner, crosscutting scenes between all the principals to keep the pace thrumming and tense. It's got a high body count, and no one emerges unscathed. Maimed, most likely. My only criticism is that some of the descriptions (tight and effective as they are) get a bit repetitive sometimes. Many of the characters—and there are a lot—at first seem so si ...more
Nov 20, 2013 Ctgt rated it really liked it
Remember the line let the bodies hit the floor from Drowning Pool? That's the way this book starts and it never lets up. From the gun shop stick up at the beginning to the final scenes at the Donnybrook, people are droppin' like flies. All the way from "relatively" minor beatdowns to cold blooded, no second thoughts murder. Oh, best way to stick up a gun shop? Just bring ammo, guns are already there.

I can't say this was a fun read but it certainly was entertaining. If you're looking for a feel g
Mar 30, 2013 Owen rated it liked it
Despite the fact that I have now read two books about Southern Indiana (both by Frank Bill), I am still 99% sure I could not find Indiana on a map.

Once again we are given a violent and bloody book about the fine folks of Indiana from Frank Bill, this time a novel.

The rednecks are still at it (incest and meth) and now they are preparing for an event called a Donnybrook, which I can only describe as a one-event redneck Olympics. It is like a bare knuckle fighting tournament, but the audience is ju
Mar 24, 2015 Ted rated it did not like it
The story here was compelling enough. Rural Indiana meth trade and the violence that goes hand in hand with it, bare knuckle fighting, and enough violence to fill ten books. The writing was awful. I'm sure Frank Bill worked hard on this book, but for the love of Pete put the thesaurus away fella. Sometimes it is okay for blood to be be blood not pink, red, burgundy, crimson or any other color Roget suggests. His use of similes and metaphor is exhausting, and most of them are awful. "Brass bounce ...more
Jun 19, 2014 Kg rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 22, 2014 Abigail rated it liked it
A bit like reading a Quentin Tarentino script...bloody but funny.
Mar 28, 2013 Max rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew I was going to enjoy DONNYBROOK. The cover alone guaranteed that. Of course, Frank Bill has been getting a ton of positive buzz among the various crime fiction sites and blogs that I frequent. So it was a given that I would enjoy DONNYBROOK.

I didn't know how much, though. I mean, I dug this book in ways that I haven't dug a book in a long time. That's saying something, because I have been on a hot-hot-HOT streak. I have been reading some terrific stuff, from crime writers new and old, boo
Dec 20, 2013 Isaac rated it really liked it
Frank Bill’s debut novel is a high-octane, high-testosterone, hell-ride of a read where mayhem is unleashed at the opening few paragraphs. The characters eat, breathe and sleep (rarely) ugly. Some vent vile racism, hint at incest and other horrendous acts. The methamphetamine, betrayal and other lawless pursuits are perpetrated by characters with little to no redeeming qualities. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find one likable person in this novel. However, there is so much more to “Donny ...more
MSJ (Sarah)
We were first introduced to the idea of a Donnybrook in Frank Bill’s debut short story collection Crimes in Southern Indiana: Stories. In “Cold, Hard Truth” unemployed and desperate Bellmont McGill kills his father-in-law so he can inherit his plot of land in Orange County, Indiana and hold a 3-day bare-knuckles tournament to rack in serious cash. Donnybrook picks up some time later and details how this redneck festival became legend and sometimes the only glimmer of hope as the winner takes hom ...more
Benoit Lelievre
May 01, 2013 Benoit Lelievre rated it it was amazing

Nothing could have prepared me for this. Really. It's rather different than its predecessor, CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA, despite that it's about the same people (the backwoods crowd of the said Indiana). While Bill's short stories are violent, yet deep and introspective, this is more like a ballet of violence and despair. I remember Anthony Neil Smith saying that reading Bill was like reading "a redneck space opera in another language" and this is exactly what it felt like.

Don't get me wron
Tim Jones
Apr 30, 2014 Tim Jones rated it it was amazing
If you could distill an ass-whoopin' into text, I think you'd get this book. The brilliance of Donnybrook is that it takes a boilerplate Kung-Fu film plot, 3 different fighters of different motivations headed to the same tournament, and slams it into a hard-ass Southern milieu. Think The Devil's Rejects choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping. Bill can write a fight scene so that you can see it coming together blow by blow in your head.
Jan 30, 2016 Wayne rated it really liked it
This extremely gritty crime novel features lots of meth-heads cooking meth, selling meth, ripping off other meth-heads, shooting people and getting into brawls. Throw in a cop, an Asian debt collector and a guy who can see the future and you have quite a story. I really enjoyed this book.
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“We got no jobs, no money, no power, no nothin', nothin' to live for 'cept vice and indulgence. That's how they control us. But it's falling apart. What we got is our land and our machines, our families and our ability to protect it all, to keep them alive. We got our hands. Ones who'll survive will be the ones can live from the land. Can wield a gun. Those folks'll fight for what little they've got. They'll surprise the criminals with their own savagery. Man, woman, and child will be tested. Others'll be too weak and scared. Uneducated in common sense. Won't know what's happened. But believe me, war is coming.” 6 likes
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