Bone And Sickle review
Honestly, I’ve been a fan of this show for years now. Therefore I feel it’s high time I got my lazy ass round to waxing lyrical about it. Originally, it had crossed my mind to write these reviews in some kind of chronological order from when I first heard them. Discovering so many great series though, meant that the inevitable queue jumpers soon put paid to that.
So without further ado, join me in the dusty yet cosy library in Al Ridenour’s ancient manor house, and lets delve into the weird and wonderful world of folklore.
So what’s it about?
Bone And Sickle (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) is primarily a folklore podcast. Now don’t roll your eyes and expect some boring academic banging on about corn dollies and morris dancing. This is a very entertaining show indeed.
The host, Al Ridenour is something of a recluse, holed up in a sprawling mansion. His only companions are his books and his long suffering servants (originally his butler Wilkinson, and more recently his housekeeper Mrs. Karswell).
Originally started as a companion to his book “The Krampus And The Old, Dark Christmas”, it has grown to encompass not just Germanic folklore, but all manner of global traditions and tales. I haven’t read this book, but if it is half as good as this podcast it’ll be a really great piece of work.
Each episode he looks at a different subject, and using some (quite frankly amazing) research, he uncovers little known facts and alternate versions of well known (and not so well known) folk tales and celebrations. There’s lots of debunking too, as some well known “facts” get dispelled. It’s interesting how stories change over time, sometimes centuries. What we think of now as “well known” is often completely different from the original tales.
Is it any good?
I’ve listened to this for so long, I can’t remember how I discovered it. I suspect that Mr Ridenour was interviewed on one of the other folklore podcasts I listen to. As soon as I’d finished the first episode I was hooked. There is an awful lot of information crammed into every episode. It never feels “academic” though, and it’s certainly never boring.
The inclusion of the butler Wilkinson, and then the apiarist MrsKarswell add both some comic relief, and some of the creepier meta stories that occur as the series progresses (from possessed mummified cats to the disappearance of the gardner). Interestingly, Sarah Chavez who plays Mrs Karswell also has her own very good podcast series all about the perception of death around the world. This isn’t her review though, so that’s all I’m saying for now!
The content here is similar to a series like Hypnogoria, where a great deal of knowledge is presented in an entertaining (and occasionally very funny) manner. There is also some inevitable overlap of the subject matter occasionally, but that’s ok, I don’t get bored of listening to this stuff. I’m loath to keep the comparisons going here, but I can’t help it. Both this and Hypnogoria deserve your time for the same reason.
Al Ridenour is a brilliant host. A mix of eccentric weirdo* and folklore academic, he really makes these subjects interesting and easy to digest. Also, Sarah Chavez is great as Mrs. Karswell. A long suffering servant, who I suspect has some very creepy backstory and is usually in no mood to put up with Ridenour’s strange behaviour. She does her best to keep this ship on course, although her own eccentricity is hardly up to the task. Somehow though, the two of them manage.
The butler Wilkinson was also a great foil, and I was rather sad when he left, but Mrs. Karswell has been perfect at filling the gap. My mother was also rather enamoured with Wilkinson, although I don’t think she ever went so far as to join the Patron to get the signed photo of him, but I digress.
This is my favourite folklore podcast, in admittedly a rather short list. Better to be at the top of a short list than the bottom of a long list though eh? And one that is well worth your time. The subjects are diverse and I have to say that whilst pretty much every podcast uses show notes, they don’t always work in my podcatcher. It’s usually just a link to the website version. Bone And Sickle though has the full show notes right there to scroll through. I think this is a really nice touch that shows the effort put in to give everyone the best experience.
*I’m sure he’s not an eccentric weirdo in real life.
You can find Bone And Sickle here:
Or wherever you get your podcasts.