A series of dark fantasy stories by Creator/ManlyWadeWellman about a traveling musician named John who frequently finds himself battling supernatural menaces in the deep backwoods of Appalachia. Wellman had already written other OccultDetective stories, demonstrating a talent for weirdness and a quirky sense of humour, but these stories are additionally enlivened by Wellman's enduring interest in the folklore and folk music of backwoods America.

The series has no official overall title, but is usually called the "Silver John" (referring to John's silver-stringed guitar) or "John the Balladeer" series. Neither of these names is ever used in the series to refer to the protagonist, who is always just plain John.

The series includes both short stories and novels.

It inspired a movie, ''The Legend of Hillbilly John'', in the 1970s.

!!This series provides examples of:

* AfterlifeExpress: "The Little Black Train" has the local RichBitch trying to escape a curse that the train will come for her (by removing all the local tracks). "A black train runs some nights at midnight, they say, and when it runs a sinner dies." [[spoiler:It comes anyway, but she repents and the train retreats.]]
* TheAntichrist: John's last recorded enemy, [[EvilSorcerer Ruel Harpe]], descendant of the infamous [[SerialKiller Micajah 'Big' Harpe]], has shades of this. He intends to use the ''Gospel of Judas'' to [[ApocalypseHow kill roughly 99% of the human race]] and then turn his home atop Cry Mountain into [[AGodAmI a temple to himself]]. He wants John to help. It doesn't work.
* AsTheGoodBookSays: Many people quote "The Book", appropriate given they're from the backwoods. Most notably, early in "Shiver in the Pines", one character (asked what he's up to) gives Satan's greeting from the book of Job -- which garners a disturbed reaction from those present.
* BrainBleach: John wishes for some after seeing the Behinder in "The Desrick on Yandro" and decades later when he sees it again in the novel ''The Voice of the Mountain''.
* CelibateHero: John, until he weds Evadare
* DidYouJustScamCthulhu: John's good at this, though sometimes he takes {{Eldritch Abomination}}s down more [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu physically.]]
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Discussed in "Old Devlins Was A-Waiting". John mentions that one time during his war years he had a dream that came true, but he calls it "[[NoodleIncident no tale to tell]]" and declines to give details. One of the other characters has a theory that it's a consequence of IntangibleTimeTravel into the future.
* {{Druid}}: In ''The Old Gods Waken'' the two main human enemies are a pair of [[EvilBrit English druids]] working with both [[WhenTreesAttack The Man in the Oak]], a malevolent tree spirit formed out of the [[OurGhostsAreDifferent long-dead ghost of another druid]], along with [[OurVampiresAreDifferent the Raven Mockers, Cherokee vampire-witches]].
* EldritchAbomination: Wellman was a fan of the CthulhuMythos and it shows in his work. A ''lot'' of the monsters John meets are described as something utterly ''alien'' to normal human life. [[NothingIsScarier That is, when they're described at all.]]
* EvilCounterpart: One story pits John against another musician with an ebony fiddle, who seems to have gotten his skills from a [[RockMeAsmodeus less holy source]].
* EvilSorcerer: Multiple examples.
* FearsomeCrittersOfAmericanFolklore: A whole flock of them appear at the climax of "The Desrick on Yandro". Another pack of them shows up in ''The Voice of the Mountain'', and they are mentioned in quite a few of the other stories.
* FeudingFamilies: The Hatfield-[=McCoy=] Feud, a historical event that became part of American folklore, forms part of the backstory of "Old Devlins Was A-Waiting".
* FunetikAksent: Most of the series characters' are from the Ozarks and speak the dialect, which is done properly. [[ShownTheirWork Wellman lived in the Ozarks for decades, and did his research.]]
* GodWasMyCopilot: In "Over the Hills and Everywhere", John tells a story about an itinerant carpenter mending a feud between two brothers, and implies that it was Jesus taking an active hand.
* HandyMan: The carpenter in "Over the Hills and Everywhere".
* HellGate: In "Owls Hoot In The Daytime" John finds one of these, complete with [[DemonLordsAndArchdevils its own demon, Molech]]. Molech tries to get John to take some of the precious jewels it has laying all over the place so it can [[KillItWithFire hurl him into a fiery pit]]. [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu It works about as well as you'd think.]]
* IfICanOnlyMove: At the climax of "Vandy, Vandy".
* ImprobableWeaponUser: John's silver-strung guitar is sometimes the only thing standing between him and death or worse.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: More than one of the stories was inspired by/named after an Appalachian folk song.
* MountainFolklore
* MyFutureSelfAndMe: The whole point of the aptly-titled "Who Else Could I Count On?".
* NoImmortalInertia: In "Vandy, Vandy", a man who's unnaturally prolonged his life for nearly three hundred years dies, and his body crumbles into a mouldy little heap.
* NoNameGiven: John
* OurGiantsAreBigger: Rafe Enoch from "Walk Like A Mountain". He differs also in that he's rather cunning for a giant, and oh yes, he can control the weather.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: Cherokee vampires, the Raven Mockers, in the novel ''The Old Gods Waken''.
* PutOnABus: Evadare is not heard from again in any of the short stories after "Trill Coster's Burden". In the novels ''The Old Gods Waken'' and ''After Dark'', John mentions that Evadare is staying with friends while he gathers up money so they can start a homestead and get married. She appears in the novel ''The Hanging Stones''.
* RealAfterAll: In "Shiver in the Pines" a pair of occultist [[ConMan con artists]] try to scam a pair of farmers out of their property by tricking them into entering an [[AbandonedMine haunted mine]] that belonged to the Ancients. John figures the scam out and the two thieves are snatched away by [[EldritchAbomination something the Ancients left behind]].
* SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong: In "Who Else Could I Count On?", John meets a man who has travelled from four decades in the future to prevent "the war that everybody's going to lose".
* ShellShockedSenior: Anderson Newlands in "Old Devlins Was A-Waiting" is a veteran of UsefulNotes/TheKoreanWar. John himself occasionally mentions that he's been to war in the past, and WordOfGod is that he was in Korea too.
* ShownTheirWork: As noted, Wellman was an acknowledged expert when it came to Appalachian myths, folktales and music.
* SilverBullet: In "You Know the Tale of Hoph", one is used to slay the monster.
* SilverHasMysticPowers: In many of the stories. John explains that silver is proof against evil creatures because it's the one substance Satan fears.
* SinsOfOurFathers: "The Desrick on Yandro" features an arrogant man paying for his grandfather's sins.
* SummonBiggerFish: In "Vandy, Vandy" a warlock starts a spell to turn a picture of John into an object of SympatheticMagic, so he can use it to harm John. John attempts to distract the warlock by throwing a [[SilverHasMysticPowers silver quarter]] at him, and the warlock's spell latches onto the image of UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington on the quarter instead of onto the picture of John. Result: Washington himself -- or rather, an embodiment of the heroic myth of George Washington -- appears out of the smoke and kicks the warlock's ass.
* SwordCane: The villain in "Vandy, Vandy" has one.
* SympatheticMagic: Magic worked on people through images of them features in "Vandy, Vandy".
* TakeOurWordForIt: The Behinder in "The Desrick on Yandro."
-->To this day I can see it, as plain as a fence at noon, and forever I will be able to see it. But talking about it's another matter. Thank you, I won't try.
* ThoughtAversionFailure: "Blue Monkey" has John attending a midnight spell-casting where the caster informs everyone that if they don't think of a blue monkey, he can turn pebbles into gold. The spell fails because they all are. John tries the spell a year later, but tells the audience not to think of a red fish (so that they ''don't'' think of a blue monkey). Turns out the spell is real.
* TimeTravel:
** In "Old Devlins was A-Waiting", a character has a theory that rituals for summoning up the dead are actually a form of time travel, bringing the subject forward from the past, not up from the grave. Their ritual succeeds in summoning [[{{Badass}} Captain Anderson Hatfield]], but the question of whence is left ambiguous.
** In the story fragment "Who Else Could I Count On?", John meets a traveller from the future. It doesn't go into detail about how the travel was accomplished.
* VaporWear: Craye Sawtelle in "The Spring".
-->She winnowed close then. I made out that she didn't have on air stitch under her silky dress. She was proudly made, and well she knew it.
* VictoriasSecretCompartment: In "Trill Coster's Burden", TheVamp hides a giant ruby in her cleavage, and tells John that if he wants it he'll have to reach in and get it; he declines, and she gets away. (This ends badly for her, since the reason he wanted it in the first place is that it has a curse on it he's trying to break.)
* WalkingTheEarth: John.
* WhenTreesAttack: One novel, ''The Old Gods Waken'', had the Man In The Oak, a kind of undead tree-spirit, as its main villain, along with a grove of literally bloodthirsty thorn vines.
----