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