Today, I am doing a bit of a double bill. I was recently offered the chance to read some latest releases from one of my favourite publishers PS Publishing.

Lucky for me, I got the chance to read A.C. Wise for the first time and was blown away by their writing. In addition to that, another first for me was George Mann's writing. 

So, in no particular order let's start with A.C.Wise's Grackle.


Andi’s on a road trip to a famously haunted town, Drakesburg. It was supposed to be partly a research trip for her thesis, partly one last sister’s trip to a cabin in the woods to spend time together and tell ghost stories; just like they used to do with their mother when she was alive. But an argument after their grandmother’s funeral put a stop to that. Instead, Andi’s taking a fellow student she barely knows, Emmanuelle, along for the drive – hardly the fun trip she envisioned. Emmanuelle starts to tell a ghost story as they travel through the night – towards a stranger destination than either of them expected to find – and before long Andi finds herself in a tale inside a story, and who knows how to get out?


They called her Grackle because she was the saint of lost things, and all the birds would do her bidding. And they called her Grackle because of the boys she drowned.

Author of Wendy Darling & Hooked turns her hand back to the realms of the strange and unknown in this tale of grief and loss.

Upon the loss of their grandmother, sisters Andi and Jenn have arranged a trip to Drakesburg to commemorate their mother who told them ghost stories as children, and also for Andi to gain some information for her college thesis. However, as emotions run high Andi and Jenn’s relationship disintegrates leaving Andi to drive to Drakesburg herself.

Setting off on her trip, she unwittingly gains a passenger on her trip, the aloof Emannuelle, another student who grew up in the same town as Andi.

With boredom setting in on the long drive, Andi requests some interaction from her passenger who tells her the story of Grackle, an urban legend of the area.

This is the first time reading the works of A.C. Wise and I must say that they bowled me over with this story. The prose is absolutely gorgeous drawing you into the story little by little. As the story moves on you soon realise that the story metamorphoses into something that you don’t expect, and what you think is the story initially, turns out to be something else entirely.

I loved the characters of Andi and Emanuelle, and whilst you think that they are worlds apart, they are far closer than what is initially described. Andi is raw with grief for both the loss of her mother and the breakdown of her relationship with her sister, whilst Emmanuelle is cold and aloof. However, her scars run much deeper and we see the reason for her return to Drakesburg as the story progresses.

This is a haunting tale of grief and loss that I thoroughly enjoyed with its lush prose and beautifully realised characters. 



Aliza Satine is a scrapper, finding artefacts and curios from earlier ages of Velin where she can, intent on uncovering more about its history. What the Reliquistors tell the people of Velin’s past only goes so far, and Aliza is nothing if not curious. One day she is given a gift, a small glass bottle. A type of curio she thought long-extinct, if it had ever really existed at all. Knowing the danger if she’s found to have such an object in her possession, Aliza resolves to find out more about it before she has to give it up – and discovers so much more than she ever thought possible.

109 pages

Published June 1, 2024


Wychwood author, George Mann returns to the world of Durstan in this second novella of his Tales of Durstan series, published by Absinthe Books (an imprint of the fabulous Yorkshire based publishers, PS Publishing).


Aliza Satine is a scrapper, making her living in the city of Velin as a collector of things from Velin’s distant past. Hoping to make it big and join the Ministry as Reliquisitor, she happens upon a treasure in a box of oddments gifted to her by kindly market stall holder Bethisimir. However, whilst she marvels at the Spiderglass that she finds in the box (a reliquary for holding spirits of a time forgotten) her world will be turned upside down and put her at odds with all she knows.


Coming to the Land of Durstan for the first time was an absolute joy. The only problem that I had was that I ached to spend more time in this vivid, crumbling world that George Mann has created. 


Aliza is a fabulous character, a mix of Indiana Jones and a young Mary Beard, who has an unquenchable curiosity for the history of the city that she has grown up in. 


Throughout Spiderglass, Mann takes you on a journey through the rich and vibrant city of Velin, through the streets of the city in the day, the change it undergoes at night, and the past that lies beneath its surface, all with our intrepid Aliza as the main counterpoint that our eyes follow.


There’s plenty of intrigue and adventure, with a little romance thrown in to make the elements of the story a rip roaring read that will entertain. 


Whilst it is only novella length, Mann manages to cram a lot of content in its short 109 pages and the book never felt that it was lacking anything, everything was just right (as old Mrs Goldilocks used to say to her three grandbears).


I must say thanks to Tamsin Traves at PS Publishing for getting in touch and giving me the chance to read this little delight. I am now on my way to purchasing the first novella in this series and anything else that George Mann has written!


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