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Hellbender (Murder Ballads and Whiskey Series Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Jason Jack Miller , Hatch Show Print , Brad Vetter
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

You see, some people have forgotten about the old energy that permeates Appalachia's darkest hollows.

Some people have not.

In HELLBENDER, Henry Collins' act of retribution forces his family to defend themselves from a rival clan, the vile Lewises. When Henry attempts to make things right, the world as he knows it begins to crumble. His car is vandalized, his house is burned to the ground and Alex, the girl he loves, begins suffering from strange spells that leave her disoriented and gasping for breath. To restore peace Henry chases the stench to its source and finds himself deep in a strange wilderness--an Appalachia that remembers mountain lions and Black Bibles. When Alex's condition deteriorates, Henry discovers that the curse and the feud sprout from the same bad seed. Together they endure abandoned mines, ancient superstition and a man as evil as the devil himself to put an end to the feud. But in order to get Alex back, Henry has to confront the horrible tragedy that brought him back to West Virginia in the first place.

Let Raw Dog Screaming Press author Jason Jack Miller take you to a place where love is forever even when death isn't, where magic doesn't have to be seen to be believed, where a song might be the only thing that saves your soul.

MURDER BALLADS AND WHISKEY is a unique, literary, blend of dark fiction, paranormal urban fantasy and horror. It's Appalachian Gothic, Alt.Magical.Realism, Hillbilly Horror. It's AMERICAN GODS meets JUSTIFIED. TRUE BLOOD with witches. It's Johnny Cash with a fistful of copperheads singing the devil right back to hell. HELLBENDER is book 2 in a series where love can save your soul, where a song can change your destiny, and where evil still hides in the dark corners of the night.
In 'Hellbender', Is He Speeding Away from Trouble? Or Toward It? By Catherine Ramsdell for POPMATTERS, 25 September 2012

Hellbender lives up to its billing and that’s no easy feat, considering how the last paragraph on the back cover reads: “Jason Jack Miller’s Murder Ballads and Whiskey series is a unique blend of dark fiction, urban fantasy and horror. It’s Appalachian Gothic, Alt.Magical.Realism, Hillbilly Horror. It’s American Gods meets Justified. True Blood with witches. It’s Johnny Cash with a fistful of copperheads singing the devil right back to hell.”

It all begins with a mysterious death and a feud.

The feud is pretty easy to define: Collins versus Lewis. Main character and narrator Henry Collins gives some background: “Growing up, I thought every family had an enemy who stole shit from their property, who burned barns down and raised the kind of hell that kept your parents up at night worrying.” The Lewises were, in short, “the only bogeymen I ever feared”.

The death is a little more complicated. Jane, Henry’s sister, is dead. But was it an accident or something more sinister? Henry doesn’t seem interested in finding out and walks away from his family and his home, wanting to escape the feud (and the magics) he doesn’t completely understand (or believe in). But, as Henry notes when he looks in his rearview mirror, “The mirror, as honest as it was, would never tell me if we were speeding away from trouble, or toward it.” In this case, trouble was all around.

Henry finds a somewhat unlikely alliance in Alex, a former (and now current) love interest who was also Jane’s roommate and is a Lewis relation. Together, they race through rural West Virginia in a quest for justice (or revenge). Along the way, a near-death rafting experience, several chase scenes, multiple beatings and shootings, a panicked creep through an abandoned coal mine, an allegedly stolen heirloom, and lots (and lots) of snakes and magic keep things

Editorial Reviews


"It's well-written, character-driven horror. The setting is often beautifully described. The characters are complicated and capable of the unexpected. There's even gender equality--both men and women kick a little butt--men usually with guns (or tree limbs, rocks, ax handles, etc.) and women primarily with magic."-Catherine Ramsdell, POPMATTERS
"HELLBENDER is an engrossing, engaging novel about the power of family [...] played out deep in the Appalachian mountains where the law doesn't quite reach and where the weapons are fists, bullets, and a handful of ancient magic."-Blu Gilland, FEARNET

From the Author

"If you follow music, art, and culture of the American South, sooner or later you're bound to run into the letters, images, and unmistakable "look" of Hatch Show Print. We're one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America, and over the years our posters have featured a host of country music performers, ranging from Country Music Hall of Famers Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, and Johnny Cash to contemporary stars such as Garth Brooks and Wynonna."-Hatch Show Print, Nashville, Tennessee.

Product Details

  • File Size: 515 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1935738275
  • Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press (January 20, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,865 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out for snakes... November 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
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 beliefs there. Loaded with local color and adventurous side trips, Hellbender makes you feel as if you've really gone somewhere and returned a little wiser with some great stories to tell.

There's a lot packed into this book but probably the best compliment I can give is that it made me want to go to West Virginia and see where it all happened. Since this book is part of the Murder Ballads and Whiskey series the Appalachian adventure doesn't have to end. You can check out The Devil and Preston Black for more West Virginia wildness.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating! June 15, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
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 just an entertaining read; it's an experience you'll be happy to immerse yourself in.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden Gem December 8, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
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 PA many years ago and Miller's affection stirred up old memories that left me longing my home town. Miller is a true master of his craft. When his name is as well-known as King, Koontz, Patterson, and Iles, Hellbender will be dusted off and recognized as the gem that started it all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars different July 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was born and raised in West Virginia (Yes-a separate state from Virginia), but this book is totally different from anything I have ever known. I know it is supposed to be fiction, but this "magic" is new to me. I have never heard of any of these types of "spells". They were not explained very well. Perhaps I am from the other side of the mountains. This sounds like a modern day Hatfield and McCoy Feud with a little witchcraft thrown in the mix. The description of the timbering is spot on; most timbering rapes the land and leaves it virtually worthless. The coal mining information was also accurate. Overall, it was an interesting story and I recognized lots of the places mentioned. But this is a side of West Virginia I know nothing about--if it even exists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you are familiar with the Canaan Valley, WV area July 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
this is at least interesting for the local references. The story was rather disjointed and unbelievable. It actually got worse as it went on. Many of the "supernatural" references were not sufficiently explained to make them anywhere near believable (i.e., where did the canyon train come from?--out of the past? if so, how?".

All in all the novel promised much at the beginning and then just became rather silly. Perhaps the author was just in a rush to finish. Anyway, it was mildly entertaining and it was fun to read about locations that I know well. So much room for improvement though...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old school American magic May 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's sort of refreshing to see a focus on old hill magic. I grew up with this stuff and some parts of the book felt very much like a good trip home. The author weaves a good and interesting story, if you like watching things unfold and become, then you'll love this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feuding April 26, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
is an inter-family sport of sorts. Old lore and old guns pepper the story with interesting quirks. And things aren't' t always as straight forward as we'd like.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horror at its finest February 1, 2014
Format:Kindle 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 mountains and forests and of an old feud between two families. It's rare that I like everything about a book, but here are the tings that really stood out for me.

The first was the setting, more so it was how the author descibes the setting. In fact the authors command of language throughout is incredible, he has real talent and has a great turn of phrase. It's written in a style that immerses you in the world, not only of the physical location, but also for the people and culture that exists there.

Good writing might make a poor story acceptable, but for me story is king and here as well the author delivers. The mysteries of old beliefs seep into the story gently at first, becoming more entwined with the more prosaic reality as the story develops. The story is told through a strong lead character supported by a mix of family, freinds and enemies.

The pacing is also spot on, it evolves at a decent pace, interspersed with drama and revelation that kept me enthralled throughout. In summary this is an excellent read and highl;y recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Haven't yet read it.
Haven't yet read it.
Published 4 months ago by ScottinNazareth
5.0 out of 5 stars Not-so-urban fantasy
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... Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. L. Gribble
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Stuff!
It's pretty obvious that Jason Jack Miller knows his 'stuff.' From writing, music, people, the Appalachians, whiskey, and magic. Read more
Published 18 months ago by TK Toppin
5.0 out of 5 stars A WILD AND WONDERFUL RIDE
HELLBENDER is a lot like a coiled copperhead. It waits, hiding its danger until the last possible minute. And when it hits, it hits hard. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Heather
5.0 out of 5 stars An Evocative and Enthralling Tale
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... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Kirsten Lenius
3.0 out of 5 stars Writer has talent
Mr. Miller has a good grasp of using words to paint a picture. There were two things that I started to find annoying the more I read though. Read more
Published 21 months ago by jam
5.0 out of 5 stars Very different, but goood
If you like hillbilly magic, you'l love this one. A suspenseful and very enjoyable adventure in the mountains of West Virginia.
Published 22 months ago by bobb
3.0 out of 5 stars Didnt realize it was a series
Great Book.. captivating... good characters and story line. hard to put down... really hate it when these places make you type more words than you have time for just to review... Read more
Published 22 months ago by NurseJane
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More About the Author

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 Murder Ballads and Whiskey series, published by Raw Dog Screaming Press. The next installment, All Saints, is due out in 2014. He is a creative writing adjunct at Seton Hill University, where he also mentors in the school's prestigious Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. Jason is a member of the Authors Guild and International Thriller Writers. He lives just outside of Pittsburgh with his wife, Heidi, and a cat. His blog is Tweet him @jasonjackmiller.

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