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Prayers the Devil Answers

(Ballad #11)

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,305 ratings  ·  274 reviews
Sharyn McCrumb, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Ballad series, examines one of the most famous public executions in US history in her stunning and powerfully written Depression-era novel.

Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn’t a game aft
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Atria Books (first published April 12th 2016)
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Linda Owen It was in reference to the death of the kidnappers and the execution of Vernon. Just a comparison to the great media and public interest in both. Very…moreIt was in reference to the death of the kidnappers and the execution of Vernon. Just a comparison to the great media and public interest in both. Very easy to miss.(less)
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3.62  · 
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 ·  1,305 ratings  ·  274 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Nov 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Set in the Appalachian mountains, this period piece is the return of McCrumb to her mountain stories. I loved her Ballad series but found this one to be a slow moving though extremely atmospheric effort. The Halloween Dumb Supper, folklore has it that if everything is done right, the young women in attendance will see the man they will eventually married. But for one young woman, a misstep in the tradition may have serious repercussions, a curse if you will, later in life. Is this possible?

Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love it, but I only liked it a little. I miss the older Ballad novels with Nora Bonesteel & Spencer Arrowood.
Book of Secrets
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
PRAYERS THE DEVIL ANSWERS paints a realistic picture of what life was like in the Appalachian Mountains during the Depression. It certainly wasn't easy, especially for a young widow trying to feed two growing boys like the main character, Ellie Robbins. Her husband was the town's sheriff, and when he dies suddenly, Ellie decides to finish out his term. Thinking that the job would be mostly paperwork, Ellie is put to the test when there's a murder in her jurisdiction, and she's faced with carryin ...more
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Ellendor Robbins is a wife and mother in the Appalachian Mountains in 1936. When her husband unexpectedly dies, she’s faced with raising her two young sons alone. She must decide whether to return to her brother-in-law’s home as a charity relative or try to take on her husband’s job, which was sheriff of their town. Ellie is a courageous, independent woman and since the job is mostly paperwork and she’ll have capable deputies to work with, the town officials decide to give her a chance. Unfortun ...more
Heather VanWaldick
Jul 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is another book that I'm marking as "read" even though I didn't finish it. That's because it was unreadable. I only got to page 100, and I lost count of the number of times that the narrator informed me that she was shy and uncomfortable around strangers. I also lost count of the number of times I read that the opposite was true of her husband. Okay, you're awkward, I f***ing get it.

The last straw, however, was when the narrator went into a detailed description about her husband's run for
May 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this historical fiction book extremely disappointing, as I have read other McCrumb books and have liked her Appalachia set novels in the past. The story started promisingly with six girls participating in an old fashioned Dumb Supper tradition, a ritual they thought would help them find husbands. When a rule was broken during the ceremony by one of the teens, many of the girls thought the tragedy that befell her later in life was directly caused by this mishap.

We then meet Ellendor, an a
Apr 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2016
Sharyn McCrumb has such a beautiful, lyrical writing style that I went into this one with very high hopes. The story wasn't bad, but I found myself skimming parts which I didn't expect. I miss the original Ballad books with Nora Bonesteel & Spencer Arrowood. I'm sure many will love this book...I'm just not one of them!
Another example of a horrible editing job. What is it with authors repeating whole sections of narrative? The story was fine but the annoyances got in the way of enjoying it.
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2016
I thoroughly enjoyed Prayers the Devil Answers. The story was compelling and easy to follow. Ellie is a tough, sensible main character. Some developments took me by surprise and I particularly appreciated the ending.
Jun 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Connie D
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
See synopsis elsewhere.

As usual, I enjoyed Sharyn McCrumb's characters (which include towns and homes), references to old superstitions and historic situations. This particular novel didn't consistently fascinate me; some of the plot lines could have been more suspenseful and others were drawn out a little too long (the execution). I also felt like it had a few loose threads that could have been tugged on a bit more.
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book was a big disappointment; it started off well, but by the end I was pretty much just spite-reading it. If there's such a thing as perseverative writing, this would be a good example. I got it the first 20 times the author wrote about the main character's almost crippling shyness and inability to talk to strangers; I didn't need it rammed down my throat 30 more times! She's shy; OK, we get it, move on!

Then, amazingly, as soon as she starts her new job as sheriff she seems to be miracul
Kathleen Gray
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
nteresting story which is generally well written but which would have benefited from some editing and tightening. Notably, more than once Ellie "thought" something and then "said" the exact same thing in the next paragraph. Some sections (the critical walk through the woods) went on too long while others were not quite long enough. You will like this little slice of historical fiction.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been awhile since I read a book that felt like a 5 star book all the way through. I absolutely loved being in 1930s Tennessee. I loved Ellendor Robbins, raised as "mountain folk" ending up as a female sheriff in the little town. So strong, so brave. I LOVED this book!
I like Sharyn McCrumb's novels for the slice of America she brings back to mind. It's been a long time since I read one of her books, and picked this up solely because of her name, but quickly became drawn into the story of a Depression-era widow who takes on the job of her dead husband, to become sheriff of a small mountain town in Tennessee. McCrumb took an actual historic event, woman sheriff presiding over the execution of a prisoner, and skillfully built the novel around it. As always, her ...more
Connie Faull
This book seemed to take a bit to pick up with the story. It probably could've been a little shorter. It was a decent character study. Some of the characters, the protagonist Ellie, was pretty well fleshed out but others the author only seemed to touch the surface. This may have been intentional by the author, as all the characters were Tennessee mountain folk who were notorious for keeping to themselves and not letting others in. This isn't a book I would have picked up had it not been a pick f ...more
Sarah ~Sehrenity~
This wasn't my favorite book by this author, but after reading her acknowledgements page, I agree that she did a good job accomplishing her stated goal. She showed a lot of different views about the same event.
Sharyn McCrumb offers a creative story line for Prayers the Devil Answers. Set in depression era Appalachia, I found the depiction of the mountain burg, it's citizens, councilmen and sheriff's department incongruous to time and place. The players are colorful, but inconsistent to staying in character. All in all, I found both the players and story line unbelievable. Add to that a tedious, slow moving beginning, I'm somewhat surprised that I stayed with the book to completion. Perhaps it being an ...more
Janet Martin
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book is undeniably slow, McCrumb's real talent is her voice, and I'm willing to cut her some slack about ponderously moving both the plot and the unveiling of her main characters. Don't read this unless you really want to be immersed in the attitudes of mountain folk in the 1930s.
Glenna Pritchett
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-fiction
Review coming soon; I need to digest it a bit more before I start writing.
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The opening of Sharon McCrumb's Prayers the Devil Answers takes readers into the superstitions and traditions of the people who live in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. But, that opening, as unusual as it is, is only a small element in McCrumb's novel. Instead, this is a story of a woman's strength and determination as she holds on to her family during the Depression. Along the way, that woman's story collides with an earlier Appalachian curse.

"Magic has rules, but she broke them." Celia was
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Sharyn McCrumb is a reliably good read and this one was very good. There's always a sense of desperation and hardscrabble struggle in the stories she sets in the mountain regions of the Eastern United States, and especially so in this one which occurs during the Depression. But there is always family and indomitable strength in her characters as well, and the haunting folktales and legends that are part of the Smoky Mountain culture. It is one of these tales, the Dumb Supper, that forms the back ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once upon a time a group of girls in a Tennessee town held a "dumb supper." This supper is based on old lore only partly understood and filled with occult but forgotten meaning. The outcome is to reveal the identities of the men the women would someday marry. Many old rules are involved and must be followed exactly. One of the young women commits a grave error and this story follows the mysterious results.

Ellendor Robbins watches her young husband die of pneumonia unable to help him. She is left
Jan C
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, library, 2016
I enjoyed listening to this book. Sharyn McCrumb has a knack with the Appalachian voice and life. I started listening to this last July except it was due back at the library before I had finished. So I got it again this week. I listened to the rest of it today.

Maybe my memory is a bit hazy about the first part. There was a dumb supper - the kind of thing silly girls do to prophesize their future husbands. I thought it sounded like fooling around on the ouija board. I looked it up tonight and app
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Byerley
I'm a big fan of McCrumb and her ballad series because she gets the language and lore of Appalachia right. This one, however, was disappointing. As many reviewers mention, it's repetitive. Usually, McCrumb varies language and vocabulary use by character. In this book, everyone speaks pretty much the same way. Characters use language that seems unlikely in this time period. There are some interesting details in this story, but overall, it's not one of her best.
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prayers the devil answers are prayers answered, but not in the way we hope. Ellie prayed that her husband would not lose his life when he took on the job of sheriff, but he died anyway of pneumonia. She became the new sheriff of the depression-era Appalachian town, but getting this job was, in fact, a prayer the devil answered. Sharyn McCrumb is a consummate storyteller who creates unforgettable characters, and her novel is evocative of a time and place long gone.
Heidi Busch
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting work of fiction based on a true story. I think the author did a good job of writing about the time and place and I liked the way she allowed the characters humanity to show. I think this is a novel that will cause me to reflect on many moral issues long after the book is returned to the library shelves.
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    Sharyn McCrumb, an award-winning Southern writer, is best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, including the New York Times best sellers The Ballad of Tom Dooley, The Ballad of Frankie Silver, and The Songcatcher. Ghost Riders, which won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature from the East Tennessee Historical Society and the national Audie Award for Best Recorded Books. The Unquiet Gra

Other books in the series

Ballad (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O (Ballad, #1)
  • The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (Ballad, #2)
  • She Walks These Hills (Ballad, #3)
  • The Rosewood Casket (Ballad, #4)
  • The Ballad of Frankie Silver (Ballad, #5)
  • The Songcatcher (Ballad, #6)
  • Ghost Riders (Ballad, #7)
  • The Devil Amongst the Lawyers (Ballad, #8)
  • The Ballad of Tom Dooley (Ballad, #9)
  • King's Mountain (Ballad, #10)