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"It's well-written, character-driven horror. The setting is oftenbeautifully described. The characters are complicated and capable of theunexpected. There's even gender equality--both men and women kick a littlebutt--men usually with guns (or tree limbs, rocks, ax handles, etc.) and womenprimarily with magic."-Catherine Ramsdell, POPMATTERS "HELLBENDER is an engrossing,engaging novel about the power of family [...] played out deep in the Appalachianmountains 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 runinto the letters, images, and unmistakable "look" of Hatch ShowPrint. We're one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America, andover 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 GarthBrooks and Wynonna."-Hatch Show Print, Nashville, Tennessee.
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 or REVELATIONS first.
The progression from magical realism to not-so-urban fantasy in this book series has been fascinating to follow, especially since it's hardly a linear progression (even if you do read the books in order). This is not the place to look for standard genre fare. These are the books you go to for the truly unfamiliar and unexpected magic that happens to live right next door.
I've always been a big fan of the concept of books that take place in the same universe, with the same characters, but that aren't direct sequels. As much as I love Preston, it was awesome to see where Katy comes from in the form of a novel centered around her family. Despite his presence, Miller did not let Preston come even close to stealing the show: he was totally a douche in pretty much every HELLBENDER scene he was in, which was kind of fantastic.
However, much like Preston, Henry Collins is not a hero. He is a regular guy who found himself in unexpected circumstances and rose to the occasion. Sometimes he is a bit of an unreliable narrator, but that just enhances the idea that he's a real person and that there's a chance not everything will turn out alright in the end. Again, not standard genre fare, but something even better.
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.
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!
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...
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 up like Old Magic itself, that made me feel as if I was right there watching it happen. My favourite line in the book has got to be: "For snakes." Brilliant stuff!
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.