"Grackle" Book Review

Written by Terry Sherwood

Published by PS Publishing

grackle a c wise poster large

Written by A.C. Wise
2024, 88 pages, Fiction
Released in June, 2024

Review:

When one thinks of birds, many will refer to Daphnie DeMaurier's 1952 novella that became the basis for the Hitchcock film, The Birds. Part folk horror, part fantasy, and part childhood redemption story, you have Grackle by Canadian, A. C. Wise. The author returns to a reversed childhood from her previous work, Wendy, Darling, when a grown-up Wendy faces the dilemma of a missing daughter needing rescue from the very person who helped her before. Peter Pan.

With Grackle, this time it is postgraduate student Andi on a road trip to research a witch in the haunted fictional town, Drakesberg. It was supposed to be a family reunion of sorts, with her sister recapturing the good times at a cabin in the woods and telling ghost stories from when their mother was alive. However, plans change when the two argue at the family funeral, so Andi takes Emmanuelle, a student whom she barely knows, who insinuates herself into the arrangements.

Ominously, her new travel companion starts a ghost story that is somewhat familiar in scope, revealing details and style Andi did not know, but Emmanuelle knew. How did she know this? What is the connection between the two, who barely know each other? This causes a lowering of inhibitions between them, and as they are drawn closer to something in an ever-changing house, they find in an abandoned amusement park. Through it all, there is the taint of control from something that takes children from Drakesberg, called a Grackle.

Seamlessly blending folk horror and the Gothic motif of the woman-in-distress-in-a-remote-place-with-an-oppressive-atmosphere-almost-funereal-in-nature, the author gives us a compelling story of a lost woman like the Lost Boys in Wendy, Darling, who wants and needs a mother. Andi seems lost in her life, with her only anchors that of research into a witch of the area and sexual attraction to a research assistant, Mona.

Author A.C. Wise writes with light descriptions and feelings of the people in the novella, not just interconnected events, giving this work a fable quality. There is even one section of the story written in a short poem style, making this seem like something that was wistfully jotted down late at night with the light of a hurricane lamp or wax candle in some lonely place. An interesting dichotomy presented is the Grackle in this story evil, or is it simply a harbinger that bird-like creatures so often are in literature? A monster or a redeemer of sorts for Andi is for the reader to decide.

You can pick up a limited edition of Grackle at PS Publishing by clicking here.

Grades:

Overall: 3 Star Rating Cover
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Buy from Amazon UK.

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