23 March, 2011

Review - Marysvale by Jared Southwick

An action-packed story filled with monsters and tyrants, heroes and heroines.
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.
Wow, Marysvale [US] [UK] really surprised me. I accepted a review copy from the author thinking, yeah, that's a cool looking cover (in a Twilight sort of way)

and I liked the blurb about monsters and heroes, why not? Wow. One of the best decisions I've made in a long time.

Told in the first person, Marysvale's protagonist, John Casey, is an easy character to adventure with. He tries to do the right thing, but that can be difficult when the victim of domestic abuse isn't cooperative or when you're betrayed or ... you get the picture. It's tough out there.

But John Casey has an advantage not too many people have, he has the ability to see into people's souls, to read them, and that's not even where the powers end. Kind of a Harry Dresden type thing.

Because John's past is a bit hazy, he has no idea where it comes from, but as long as he keeps using it, it gets stronger and stronger.

With his abilities to hand and strong sense of right and wrong, John takes us from one harrowing escapade to the next. Running from another town he wasn't quite able to fit into, John is attacked by huge monsters and led eventually to the town of Marysvale, where the citizenry has been caged in by the monsters and the local government is anything but forgiving.

Not only is John Casey a great character, but the setting is wonderful as well. I pictured M. Night Shyamalan's The Village (only without the director's typical twists...and without his tendency to produce theatrical bombs). There were muskets, horses, monsters, ...tricorn hats, yeah, the real deal.

Marysvale is an unexpected tale of action, adventure and lots of fun to read. I was glued to the page right from the beginning and anytime I thought Southwick wouldn't be able to keep up the great pace and narrative, it only got better.

Why Should You Read Marysvale?

If you want a quick read that's straight-forward and lots of fun, you can't go wrong with Marysvale. There are even pictures at the beginning of most chapters that really set the mood nicely, if a bit creepy at times (in a good way). Highly Recommended.

4 out of 5 Stars

Check out Jared Southwick's website for more information.

Book two, Alyth, is due out Fall 2011, so look out for that as well.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher