Like all small rural towns, Canaan, West Virginia has its secrets: lies, infidelities, and even murder are kept hidden in the minds of the residents there. But there is one secret they will go to any lengths to protect.

A little girl named Gabrielle, believed to be an angel, has been kept chained in the church basement for over a century now, prisoner of an ancient pact. Unaging and unearthly beautiful, Gabrielle has the power to heal.

A madman pursues outsiders Adam and Holly Mansfield to Canaan, intent on kidnapping their daughter. Once there they discover there is one other secret in Canaan.

Chained deep in the heart of the mountain is another being, a demon called Scratch. If Gabrielle is freed, Scratch will be as well, and his vengeance and evil will consume the town.


Scratch is now available in a variety of ebook formats. To purchase and download a copy click the following links, or for Kindle, look for the widget on the right side of the screen.

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Cover Marcel Walker -




From Goodreads:


's review
May 07, 16

really liked it
bookshelves: owned
Read in May, 2016

What evil lurks within the hearts of men? Wayne Wise knows.

Horror is probably the most difficult genre to write. Not only do you have to scare the crap out of your audience, you have to make sure the mood remains tense between scary episodes. Scratch is one of those novels where you spend just about every page waiting for something horrible to happen, and when it finally does, boy does it ever. 

Scratch and Gabrielle are spirits imprisoned by the townsfolk of Canaan, West Virginia. They were bound long ago, when America truly was the New World, and their keeping has been handed down through one family line to the present day. Gabrielle is imprisoned in the church, and her gift for healing is used to cure the various injuries and illnesses the town suffers. Scratch, for his part, is doomed to feel all the pain that Gabrielle absorbs during a healing. Scratch is strong enough to leave his pain-wracked body and travel the village in spirit, feeding off of the many secrets and dark emotions buried in Canaan. It's a dirty little cycle with no sign of ending...until the Mansfield family, fleeing their own troubles, comes to live in Canaan.

There's a lot going on here, and Wise does an excellent job not only keeping all the plotlines straight, but humming along at the appropriate clip, cris-crossing them as needed. The subplots are SO intricate and layered into the main plot that you'll find yourself wondering 50 pages from the end, how the hell he's going to tie up every loose thread...but he pulls it off beautifully. The cliffhangers that occasionally end each chapter are timed and placed perfectly; they feel organic and not manipulative. The descriptions of both Pittsburgh (where the Mansfields run from) and the West Virginia countryside are vivid without being overdone; this really could be made into a movie. I also loved how plot resolutions were both subtle and clever; you'll think you know how a thing is going to turn out, but at the revelation point, the truth turns out to be slightly more interesting than what you'd guessed.

Character-wise, the players seem drawn from life, people you might actually know with problems you can genuinely relate to. Adam Mansfield is technically the hero here, and his growth and development is a major theme. However, everybody in this novel has strengths and weaknesses with which they grapple; some people win those fights, while others lose. Over and over again we see people wrestling with their own fears, flaws, and desires, and when the town finally gets what's coming to it (in spectacular fashion), justice is meted out fairly based on how hard each person has worked to be on the side of the angels, so to speak. In fact, the most brilliant thing about this novel is that the worst evils here don't live in supernatural creatures. They live in human hearts.

It's really unfortunate that a lot of libraries won't consider this as a purchase because it's a self-published work. Its also unfortunate that a good chunk of the rest of the world is really not ready for the mythic themes that run through this novel like an electric current (would that we were). But, per our old friend Ranganathan, "Every reader his/her book." and "Every book its reader," so consider your patron population and choose accordingly. Recommended for people who are drawn to psychology, philosophy, or alternative spirituality, as well as for libraries that have horror collections, especially in the tri-state area. Also recommended for larger fiction collections, where eclectic work has a fighting chance at finding its true audience.

5.0 out of 5 stars
A wonderful, rewarding read.November 11, 2012
Special K "Kegg" (Pittsburgh, PA) - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Scratch (Kindle Edition)
I first started reading scratch because of the free, relatively lengthy sample that was given and almost immediately found myself sucked into the believable, yet slightly mystical world that Wayne Wise had crafted. I was hooked, and at the extremely affordable price, dove right in.

There is nothing not to like about this novel. There's great characterization, plot progression, the pacing feels consistent and doesn't drag, and the story ends just as one expects it to given how it unfolds before the conclusion. By far, what stood out most to me were the characters. You'll almost immediately revile Billy, laugh with the adorable Michaela (Mike), empathize with Adam's personal journey of discovery, shake your head at Shelly's pettiness, admire the charming Jack, respect Caroline's wit, and so much more. You may even find yourself liking minor characters like Joe and Elmer.

The journey that Wayne Wise takes you in surprisingly packs quite an emotional punch, and I was not expecting this given the sample. While there is a "supernatural thriller" aspect to this story, it is the human characters and their interactions that make this book so compelling. They run the gamut of emotions such as: fear, selfless love, heartfelt anger, deep-seated bitterness, duty, regret, and the like. This makes them both personable and relatable. It feels like you're right alongside with them as their paths intersect with one another's in both predictable and not quite so predictable ways.

Mr. Wise's personal knowledge, love, and respect for the areas visited shine through with descriptions that make you want to visit the Record Cavern on Craig Street or the beautiful mountains of Canaan itself.

Take the plunge. You can read this wonderfully written work that's the right combination of heart, child-like awe, humor, and mysticism, just to name a few ingredients. PARENTAL ADVISORY : For the parents out there, I'd say this one is for young adults and older as there is a bit of profanity, some sexual content, some violent situations, and potentially scary supernatural portions. That being said, none of the above feel forced or excessive and only make the emotional impact that much more compelling. Treat yourself to this underpriced gem. You won't be disappointed.

In the interest of fairness I want to point out that this reviewer, Laura, is a really good friend of mine that I don't see enough of these days. She is one of my oldest, dearest friends and one of my harshest critics (and I say that in a loving and grateful way).

4.0 out of 5 stars
Really enjoyed this book!July 27, 2012
Laura C Lewis (Wyckoff, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Scratch (Kindle Edition)
So I guess I have Mr. Wise to thank for a couple of new bruises... after dropping my Kindle on my face at 1:30 in the morning because I COULDN'T STOP READING! (Hurts a lot more than a paper book, if you're interested...)
As a native of the town upon which Appleton is based, it felt particularly "real." He absolutely captured with 100% accuracy, the cadence of life in that area, the speech, the behaviors, the small-town interconnectedness (not always a good thing, regardless of the opinions of John Cougar Mellencamp) of the citizens of Canaan. I loved the juxtaposition of Gabrielle and Scratch and the implication that one could not exist without the other, the light and the dark, the good and the bad, although I didn't think of Scratch as evil any more than a shark is "evil." It is the nature of the beast, so to speak.
Even the "other bad guy" was fleshed out in such a way that it was possible to see him as a sympathetic character. His fantasy about his future life was very sad.
There are a lot of other things I'd like to address but it would make my review too much of a spoiler.
All in all, it moved along at a snappy pace, was entertaining, thought-provoking and led up to an appropriately apocalyptic finish (a previous reviewer said something about "cinematic," and I have to agree, this book would make a GREAT movie! I'd go see it!!)
All my best to the author. I will definitely be looking forward to his future works!

5.0 out of 5 stars
Good solid entry into the horror/fantasy arenaDecember 14, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Scratch (Kindle Edition)
Scratch is my first foray into Amazon's program in self-publishing. I bought it on the recommendation of a friend who knows I like this kind of fiction (horror/fantasy) and because the beginning takes place in a location I'm well familiar with: Pittsburgh Pa, specifically Oakland, the area containing University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon. Anyone who has ever gone to school here will get a kick out of a VERY accurate footchase from Craig St past the Cathedral of Learning and Carnegie library, and into Schenley Park!

Scratch is a story of a town (Canaan, West Virginia...that one appears to be a fiction, if Google Maps is correct) that is hiding a secret (two actually). It seems some of their ancestors bound a healing angel Gabrielle(and her not so healing brother, Scratch) a century ago. They've been using her to heal their nicks and bruises over the years. It seems a town with a secret like this is prone to some pretty decent nicks and bruises, and would do anything to keep their secret.

The book moves along briskly, but gets bogged down a bit in some dream sequences that I personally am never fond of. The characters are an interesting mix. My one complaint is that I wished that a little more time were spent fleshing them out a bit more. It can be a trick to make "bad guys" sympathetic and vice versa, but I think it was pulled off here.

By book's end, there's a hint of what Gabrielle and Scratch's nature is, and I would like to see a little more. Maybe a sequel.

I'll definitely give Mr Wise's other books a whirl (In fact, the price alone got me to send a digital copy to my friend, another ex-Pittsburgher living in LA) 

4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific book!January 26, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Scratch (Kindle Edition)
I found this book to be well written, with well defined, intriguing characters and a unique premise. Mr. Wise does a great job of keeping the story moving at a good clip, juggling various story lines, and making the fantastic seem entirely plausible.

The book is very cinematic in its presentation, and played out in my mind's eye as a gripping film.

This was a fun, engaging read, and I'm looking forward to lots more from this author, who reminds me of a young Stephen King. Don't mistake this analogy - Mr. Wise isn't a match (yet) for Mr. King in his prime, but he shows great promise and deals with similar themes.

5.0 out of 5 stars A real you can't put down bookMarch 7, 2012
This review is from: Scratch (Kindle Edition)
I use to think that was just an expression but I really fell deeply into the world that Wayne Wise creates here. He manages to paint a picture that can sometimes be scary but always amazing.

Not only does this story have an angel and a demon, it has a homicidal maniac chasing the protagonists deep into the country.  You know what though? It all works!
The story elements were seamlessly meshed together for an incredibly easy read. Adam and Holly Mansfield were very easy to relate to and sympathize with. The whole concept of the chained angel and demon was intriguing and unique.
For most of the book, it was more of a drama then a fantasy/horror. It was still an entertaining read as I was entirely caught up in the lives of the Mansfields. They were characters I wanted to see succeed and to be happy.
The villainous madmen that chased after them was very three-dimensional and was fully fleshed out. He was a very believable character. Wise did a very thorough job on every aspect of this novel.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. I think it will surprise you too.


As I said in a previous post, the novel I now call Scratch began it's life as a short story set in the fanfic Marvel superhero universe of The Guardians. In that story two of my characters, Auracle and Totem, ended up in a small rural community while attempting to rescue Totem's daughter from a superpowered madman. There, they encountered a young mutant girl with wings and the power to heal. This girl was being held hostage in the basement of a church because the small community there believed she was an angel and it was their duty to “protect” her from the rest of the world, while using her powers for their own benefit, of course.

At some point, in the aftermath of King of Summer, when I was casting about for a new idea for a second novel I realized that there was a central concept in this short story that I could mine for a larger project. It wasn't difficult to strip out all of the references to the Marvel Universe and superpowers and recast those abilities in supernatural terms.

At this point I should say that there will probably be SPOILERS from here on. I don't plan on giving away major plot points, but still... you might want to read the book first (yeah... that's a shameless plug).

Auracle and Totem became Adam and Holly Mansfield. The superpowered madman became Billy Haught, the non-powered but nonetheless mad father of Holly's daughter Michaela.

I don't really know how to talk about the process of developing a novel in my head. Even if this experience wasn't several years old at this point I'm not sure if I could recreate all of the pieces. Like King of Summer, I didn't really make a lot of notes. I created a situation and threw my characters into it and then wrote to see what would happen.

Scratch is set in the same universe as King of Summer. Though there is no overlap of characters the small town of Appleton appears in both (Appleton has become for me what Castle Rock and Derry are for Stephen King... I think we'll go back there frequently in my work).

A lot things happen when I start thinking about my characters and their relationships. Connections are made, new insights develop, they start saying and doing things I didn't intend. None of them are based specifically on anyone but are amalgamations and observations of the world I've come to know. None of them are meant to be overtly me, but I'm pretty aware of the parts of me that do go into some of them. The scene early in the book when Adam “quits” his job is a hyperbolic version of something that actually happened to me when I walked away from my professional career in psychology. His struggles with depression and how to come to terms with his creativity are also exaggerated fictionalized accounts of some of my own struggles.

I had been reading a lot about shamanism at the time, and spirit animals, but I really had no idea the bear was going to show up in the story until it did. The first dream Adam has involving a bear is one I actually had. It started me on a symbolic journey of self-discovery so I thought it appropriate to send Adam on one as well. His was different than mine, but this piece of unexpected synchronicity opened the story in directions I hadn't planned.

Scratch is probably the darkest and most violent of the books I've written. I'm not sure where this comes from. In general I'm known as a pretty happy-go-lucky guy with distinct pacifist tendencies (the last physical altercation I was ever in was 5th grade, and that girl beat the crap out of me). But I am drawn to the concept of the darkness of the human soul. While I have read a lot of Horror novels I'm not really a fan of the hack and slash, splatter and gore school. However, I also don't believe violence should be whitewashed. If it appears in a story there should consequences. I think it should be painful and ugly, not glamorous.

The themes of this story developed around the two supernatural characters introduced in the prologue, Gabrielle and Scratch. There's a Tom Waits lyric that goes, “If I exorcise my devils, Well my angels may leave too.” This was not a conscious inspiration when writing Scratch, but it certainly sums it up. The idea of opposites, ups and downs, light and dark, and how they are each defined by the other all came into play while I was writing. Trying to hide our dark side can only lead to it getting stronger. Too often we chain up our better natures and that too can lead to a perversion of them.

And I'm finding writing about Scratch to be more difficult than writing it was. Hopefully you will discover everything I have to say, and more, from the book itself.