Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: Hellbender by Jason Jack Miller @jasonjackmiller

Hellbender by Jason Jack Miller


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. Strange things are happening at the edge of reality, deep in the forests and mountains of West Virginia. Let 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. 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.


Jason Jack Miller wrote the novel Hellbender during his graduate studies at Seton Hill University. From that experience, Miller produced an amazing piece of prose. My reading of Hellbender was a full tilt sensory adventure. Miller can bring you into exactly what the character are observing. It is a joy to read. I loved it.
What I did not enjoy was the characters themselves. I felt I got to know each one well enough but Miller did not cause me to care for them. I think the atmosphere of the Appalachians was interesting. The element of magic was subtle and mysterious. It was brought about with a song or a small item held in your hand. It worked because it was mysterious. 
The center of the story evolves into a cat and mouse chase in the mountains, while the supporting stories revolves around lost love and family. It's not a bad story nor is it poorly written. As I said earlier, it's written beautifully. It just was not my cup of tea. I can appreciate it and I believe others would love it and I encourage you to read it and experience the Appalachian magic for yourself.