Review: Marysvale by Jared Southwick

If I had not been part of a book club, I probably would have missed Marysvale by Jared Southwick. Admittedly, it wasn’t even remotely on my radar – it’s hard with all of the wonderful books being penned by so many great authors. Here’s what the synopsis from Amazon has to say –

John Casey was ten years old when his mother was murdered…and ten when his father hid the truth from him. Without that knowledge, he has no idea of the enemies that lie in wait.

Now grown up, John lives a solitary life, in a world enslaved by ignorance and superstition, when anyone unusual is treated with distrust and even killed…and John has some very unusual gifts. When he is accused of witchcraft, John does the only thing he’s ever done—Run! That is, until he meets Jane, who lives in the bleak, imprisoned town of Marysvale. Life outside the safety of the town walls means certain death from the brutal monsters that hunt there. However, life inside, under the rule of a tyrannical leader, means no life at all.

As the love between John and Jane grows, the dangers of Marysvale unfold; and for the first time in his life, John discovers that there is something worth dying for.

Now I have to admit that I didn’t read the synopsis before delving into the book, so I was expecting something entirely different. In the end I was pleasantly surprised to find a very well-crafted story full of vivid and magnificent imagery. There were times that I found myself losing time within the story being woven around me.

John Casey is certainly an enigma and that’s really all that I can say without giving too much away. I found his mysteriousness to be somewhat refreshing in that, I wanted desperately to know more than what the author was telling me, but knew that it would all be revealed in good time. The remaining cast of characters were all supportive in the ways that they needed to be and without taking away from the story unfolding around even them.

When Southwick introduces the Brean, there is a moment where you pause, wondering what heck is really going on in the book (to those of you that read the synopsis, I suppose that you were expecting them…). As the crux of the plot is revealed, you learn that they are nefariously hulking beasts that hunt to kill and have terrorized most of the inhabitants of the countryside to the point that they have no other choice but to live behind fortified walls.

The mystery of Marysvale is revealed and you cannot help but pushing the limits of time to rush to the conclusion. Jared Southwick has a gem in Marysvale and I cannot wait to read the conclusion of the tale in Alyth.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of Marysvale, you can find it on Amazon. Incidentally, it’s free right now!

4 out of 5 stars!

What Keeps You Up At Night?

 “Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed”

What crawls through a child’s terrified mind in the darkest moments of the night? We asked twelve different authors to reach deep into their own imaginations and spin for us twelve tales so disturbing that any child would cringe at the thought of having to turn off the light before going to bed…

Those whispered tales of monsters hiding under the bed, or of the demons lurking in the shadowy corner where we dare not glance for fear that seeing them will make them all too real. Oh, how the innocent landscape of a child’s imagination lends fertile soil to horrors ready to be sown on the slightest of sounds; the tales and the terror they wreak on our youthful minds never quite leaves us.

We asked the authors in this collection to reach into the forgotten recesses of their twisted minds and share with us the tales of nightmares that can only thrive in the hidden corners of a child’s imaginings; the bogeyman under the bed, the outlandishly fiendish creature lurking in the dark, the slight murmur of sound coming from the hall… did you close the door completely?

Explore the myriad terrors that only a child can twist from nothing into some ‘thing’ in the span of a single rapid breath. Do you dare delve into your own memories? Perhaps you’ll start sleeping with the lights on again…

Tell us, who is Under the Bed?


Contributing Authors:  Colin F. Barnes, Nina D’Arcangela, Phil Hickes, Amber Keller, Kim Krodel, Lisamarie Lamb, John McIlveen, Kate Monroe, Brandon Scott, Joshua Skye, Julianne Snow, and Jack Wallen

Available in:

Print format –,
eBook format –,,,,, (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, PDF)


A small taste of what you can expect to find in “Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed

‘Madeleine’ – Julianne Snow

     Still nothing. No tell-tale shuffling sound of socked feet on the hardwood floor.
     Nothing… Where was she? How could she have not heard?
     With tears streaming down her cherubic face, Stella wondered if her dream had come true. As she debated running the short distance over the oaken surface to her parent’s room, she listened intently for the sounds of her mother’s imminent stirring.
     Stella heard the soft sounds of her mother’s footfalls in the hallway. She was coming.
     More tears welled up in her young throat.
     As her door burst open, she was surprised to see the form of her sister in the light of the hallway, a smell pervading the room unlike anything she had ever smelled before. Burnt. Wet…

‘Show and Tell’ – Kate Monroe

     He belatedly realized that tonight, there had still been no answer, no response. He leaned over the edge of the bed and cautiously lifted the sheets.
     “Are you there?”
     A blast of fetid air; putrid, repellent.
     Satisfied, Tommy continued.
     “I wish they’d bloody die.” Awestruck by his bravery in making the grand pronouncement, he allowed himself a few moments in which to savor the forbidden words on his tongue before he spoke again. “Yeah, I do. I wish they’d both just shut up and die.”
     A sigh, no stronger than the breeze outside, lifted up the bed sheets and danced around Tommy’s bare feet, curling up his toes as he pursed his thin lips.
     “What do you think, then?”
     Before any answer could come from under the bed, shuffling footsteps announced his great-aunt’s arrival in his room…

‘Seeing is Believing’ – Amber Keller

     At supper no one mentioned what had happened, and that was fine with Timothy. It was strange, but he felt like if he talked about it, it would make it more real.
     When his parents went to bed, he stayed on the couch, saying he would go up to bed soon, that he wanted to finish this television show first. It was an easy lie, and they seemed to be happy that he wasn’t bringing the rat back up, so they allowed it.
     He went to the closet in the hall and scooped up a blanket and extra pillow to take back to the couch when he noticed his bedroom door was shut. It had been open when he went to the bathroom after supper. Looking back he paused before going back to the living room.
     From sitting on the couch, Timothy had a view of his bedroom door in his peripheral vision. He couldn’t help but be aware of the door since it was odd that it was shut…

Please visit the Sirens Call Publications web site for an extended preview available for download.

Surviving the Werewolf Apocalypse: A Guest Post from Jason McKinney

Today I present you a guest post from Jason McKinney; a family man, a good friend, an all around stand out chap, and one hell of a writer! He’s currently touring in support of his book Dog World – an apocalyptic tale that will make you think twice about what you know of werewolves. Here’s at little more about the book:

“It is the summer of 2005, near Tikrit, Iraq. Captain Paul Demarti is the executive officer of communications when a report is received from a patrol that is incredible, at best, or ridiculous, at least. The patrol begins to report hostile contact with giant canine-like creatures when the communication is suddenly cut off. Little does Demarti know that these transmissions will change the course of his life and commence events that will threaten humanity’s existence. In Jason McKinney’s furiously fast-paced and viciously fanged Dog World, it’s werewolves versus soldiers stationed in Iraq, with no less than the fate of humankind hanging in the balance. In a werewolf action thriller like no other, bloodlust reigns and battles rage as a few of America’s bravest struggle to suppress an enemy who is stronger, more cruel, and, at the onset, far hairier than any terrorist they have ever known. Readers craving a compelling, craven story that is coursing with humor will relish sinking their teeth into Dog World.”

Sounds intriguing doesn’t it?? Stay tuned after Jason’s guest post for links on where you can pick it up!

Surviving the Werewolf Apocalypse: Four Tips from Expert Jason McKinney

I believe knowing how to survive a werewolf apocalypse is just as important as knowing how to survive a zombie apocalypse, a natural disaster, or your in-laws staying with you for an extended period of time. The truth of the matter is that if you’re not prepared to deal with a werewolf dominated society, then you’re just a walking Porterhouse steak. This guide reads, in large part, like any other survival guide, but I’ve added a few tips that will help you prepare for when werewolves, or “poodles” as I call them in Dog World, launch their offensive.


The definition of communication isn’t limited to knowing how to talk to your spouse, partner, or kids. It also means having a way to communicate with the outside world. Whether or not you decide to talk to other survivors is up to you, but you will need a radio capable of receiving the Emergency Broadcast Network and/or private broadcasters in the event of a lycanthropic attack. This is extremely important. When rescue shelters are set up you’ll need to be able to receive updates pertaining to any shelters that have been overrun with hostiles or are at capacity.

You should think like the military. Planning and information gathering from the world at large is essential. Many private citizens will have ham radios, broadcasting information, so pay attention to the situation around your location. Be advised that some incoming info may be bad so always go with your gut when analyzing or responding to outside communications. A good radio and an analytical method for processing incoming information will help you to plan for worst and best case scenarios while on the move. Communication and information equals situational awareness.


Most survival experts say three to four months of rations for a family of four is needed in the event of any catastrophe. If you have a family of five or more, then I’d stock up with four to five months worth. Staples like peanut butter, crackers, canned vegetables, canned fruit and bottled water are no-brainers. Ramen noodles (some people love them, my 7 year-old is one of them) are a good, inexpensive item to keep in stock. Rice, oatmeal, various packaged noodles, and dry cereals are also good to have plenty of. Those items can be stored in Ziploc bags for easy transport and can be snacked on as a dry food that will expand to fill you up.

Fresh or bottled water is a must. Go with the three to four month plan for a base set up then expand on that a little at a time. It also couldn’t hurt to prepare for a time when you’re constantly on the move. For those times you will want to have desalination kits or water purification tablets on hand so you can purify nearly any water source. They are available at many sporting good stores or on the Internet. These are very handy to have especially if you take to sea or live near an ocean. Remember to always sanitize your water sources. Werewolf physiology doesn’t have a problem drinking directly from a filthy river, but your body does.

When it comes to cooking or sterilizing metal implements, Sterno tabs or Sterno chafing fuel is great. You can use these in the field and, if you’re careful, indoors. The tabs can be found at military surplus stores or online and the chafing fuel can be found at most big wholesale shops like Costco or Sam’s Club. These are cost efficient and easily portable for heating any food stuff you might have.

Lastly, if you have the money to spend on supplies then military issued Meal, Ready-to-Eat, or MREs, are excellent for emergency planning. The pouches contain everything from an entrée to toilet paper and in some instances water powered entrée heaters. MREs come in a variety of choices and it’s my understanding that a Vegan menu has been added to the MRE list.

Guns and ammo:

It’s more than a magazine, it’s something you need. Like surviving a rise of the undead population you’ll need a firearm, proper training, and at least 400 rounds of ammunition for your weapon of choice.

In time you’ll have more than werewolves to deal with as you travel to safety. There will be human raiding parties to deal with as well. When dealing with hostile werewolves and humans the phrase to remember is escape and evasion. Unless you’re in a group of 20 or more, you should never engage lycans head on. Werewolves have and always will have an advantage over humans. Mentally they operate from both a human and wolf understanding. You should only attempt to fight them if no other alternatives are left. If you have to engage lycans remember to never open fire at a distance. You’ll only be wasting your ammo. When it comes time, engage lycan attackers at 20 feet or less. Make your shots count and always aim for the eyes. Werewolves have a wider cranium than humans, and their eyes and forehead make for perfect kill zones. Werewolves are not invulnerable. They can be killed.

As it was pointed out to me recently, crossbows are also good short range weapons suitable for hunting and minor defense. Crossbow ammo is reusable and can be replenished from nature. Never discount a weapon just because it doesn’t go bang or lacks a trigger.


Everyone knows that cleanliness is important in day-to-day living, but in the event of a lycan overthrow you have to change your thinking. Manufactured deodorants, body wash, and toothpaste will be detrimental to your survival. A werewolf’s olfactory senses are legendary and the smell of today’s hygiene products will set you apart from your surroundings. The best thing to do is learn how to manufacture everyday hygiene needs from nature. It can be done. We’ve made toothpaste, deodorant, and soaps from natural ingredients that work just as well, if not better in some cases, than items bought from any store.

Learning natural personal hygiene is vital to surviving werewolves. You must smell as close to nature as you possibly can and these items not only keep you fresh, but they also mask your scent. Believe me when I say that choosing natural body odor over these items won’t save you. Your natural body odor will draw werewolves to your location just as surely as walking around smelling like Degree or Ivory soap. I say again, your natural odor will work against you. My best advice is to think like hunters. Many mask their scents while hunting to keep from alerting their prey to their presence. This tactic will work as well for masking your presence from werewolves.

If you follow these guidelines during Werewolf Apocalypse-Day then you’ll make it through to the end.

My unending thanks to everyone for reading, and to Julianne for allowing me to guest post.


About the Author ~ Jason McKinney is a writer and storyteller. A busy husband and father of three, he started writing fiction in his spare time for his wife. Dog World is the written answer to his seven-year-old daughter’s questions: Are there any good werewolves and what do they do when they aren’t hairy? McKinney is also the author of the zombie comedy, Memoirs of the Walking Dead: A Story from the Zombies Point of View. He resides in Madison with his family and seven pets. Also available is his children’s novel of a canine sheriff in Nebraska, Sheriff Teddy and the Mysterious Egg Thieves.

Wondering where you can pick up Dog World?

It’s available in Print and Digital(eBook) on Amazon. Make sure to get your copy today!