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Upcoming and New Releases from Indie Publisher Handheld Press

Handheld Press is an independent publisher located in Bath. They have some great new and upcoming releases. Check out our reviews below!

Potterism by Rose Macaulay

Review by Rosie Burgoyne

Handheld’s stunning new edition of social-satirist Rose Macaulay’s Potterism features a specially written introduction and detailed explanatory notes by academic Sarah Lonsdale, which provide readers new to Macaulay’s writing with crucial context. The book itself is split into short sections giving voice to characters on both sides of the ‘potterism’ debate. These short and snappy sections flow seamlessly together, despite the changing perspectives, allowing readers to navigate through the text with ease.

Known to have taken inspiration from the likes of Virginia Woolf, Macaulay’s tone is sharp, witty and, at times, comic. Set against the backdrop of the First World War and the early 1920s, Potterism considers the importance of the media and journalistic responsibility, particularly in terms of distinguishing fact from fiction. This is especially pertinent in today’s times of ‘fake news media.’

Macaulay’s openly feminist views also shine through in the text; in moments following setbacks for female characters like Jane, standout statements come. These seem surprisingly ahead of their time:

“Women were handicapped; they had to fight much harder to achieve equal results. [...] Young men possessed the earth; young women had to wrest what they wanted out of it piecemeal.”

British Weird (James Machin ed.)

Review by Nina Sood

The curiously specific genre of British Weird was one I had dipped my toes in from reading countless supernatural tales from the same period, like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Stoker’s Dracula. Yet whilst these novels were slow at times, failing to captivate some, British Weird is the opposite. Each tale is intriguing and unusual; no two are alike, except for their skill merging genres and enthralling the reader. I loved how some of the stories, such as No-Man’s Land, dealt with folklore and the terrifying aspects of nature from an unusual angle.

They painted pictures of unknown beasts that border the line between reality and fantasy.

With each story fitting together very well, hold no expectations going in; the collection will definitely surprise you! From massive pus-filled caterpillars to something about London that’s just slightly off, each story plays on the periphery, meaning you will always be left wanting more, but weirdly satisfied at the same time. A must-read for all lovers of the uncanny and the unnerving.

Women’s Weird 2. More Strange Stories by Women, 1891–1937 (Melissa Edmundson ed.)

Review by Leyla Mehmet

Women’s Weird 2 is being released in October, following the successful anthology Women’s Weird that was published in 2019. This anthology promises you weird, and weird you shall get! It contains thirteen stories, each with their own, unique way to chill the reader, and all written by women. The stories were originally published from 1891 to 1937 and feature authors from different countries, including the USA, Canada, the UK, India and Australia, providing distinctive stories and various geographical locations.

This anthology manages to combine short stories that complementarily encompass many different genres such as horror, supernatural, ghost stories, science fiction and fantasy; each effectively produces the anthology’s overall intended feeling of weirdness and strangeness. From a boarding house with strange occurrences, a family who have to go indoors after 5pm, to a girl who believes she can do magic, each short story has something that will produce a chill, or leave you with the unfamiliar.

Non-Combatants and Others: Writings Against War 1916–1945 by Rose Macaulay

Review by Lucy Lillystone

Non-Combatants and Others, over one hundred years in age, written by the British novelist and journalist Rose Macaulay, is set in London during the early First World War. Pushed back into the public eye by Handheld Press, the novel breaks down the boundaries between soldier and non-soldier through the narrative of Alix, a woman barred from armed services due to her gender, physically unfit to help in hospitals due to an injury.

Refusing to shy away from pain, Macaulay uses her writing to highlight the brutal, savage nature of war on those at home. For example, the women and the injured refer to the war as a ‘monster’ that strangles you. There are harrowing descriptions of the physical damage and mental suffering of the non-combatants, such as John. He patiently answers questions from family, only to cry at night, screaming of the horrors of the trenches. There’s also Basil, who loses a finger and thus his career as an artist – Macaulay desperately sends a message of pacifism.

Non-Combatants and Others is an excellent novel of resistance, which deals with morals of compassion and cowardice.



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