Category: Fiction (Page 1 of 3)

Compact and bijou Mostyn

Tiny Terrors review

Production company – Rusty Quill

Rating –

tiny terrors logo

Almost a year go now, my very first review was of The Magnus Archives. This is still possibly my all time favourite podcast. At the time, I bemoaned the fact that it had spawned a multitude of imitators of varying quality. I stand by that opinion (mainly because it’s still true). But, you may ask, what does that have to do with this? Are these terrors of which you speak tiny by name and nature, or are they genuinely the stuff of nightmares? Well, read on and I’ll tell you.

So what’s it about?

The Tiny Terrors exchange is an swap shop for scary stories rather similar in tone to the Creepypasta website. Its origins hark back to the pre-internet days when writers would swap short stories by post. This was a sort of secret club. You could only join by being recommended by a writer already in the club, and every so often you would receive a story through the post to enjoy and review. In the digital age, and with the dawn of search engines, this secrecy was lost somewhat, although the exclusivity, and therefore quality was retained.

In each episode of the podcast, the employees of the exchange read a story and record it on tape. Running parallel to these recordings of weird fiction are stirrings of more sinister machinations just out of sight of the main plot, and soon the reality of the characters starts getting very strange indeed.

Is it any good?

I really like this one. It’s my favourite Magnus-alike series, and the side plot is reminiscent of The Storage Papers. Although, comparing it to either of these podcasts directly is a bit of a cop out, it’s more than capable of standing up on its own two feet.

Cole Weavers (I can spell his name, even if the Rusty Quill website can’t!) has done a stirling job with the writing. The characters are very likable and thanks to the voice cast, very believable. Regarding the acting, for the most part, it is great, and I love to hear familiar voices in there too. The individual stories are also very well written indeed. There are some incredibly strange nuggets of weird fiction to enjoy, so much so that I would rate this a five even if it was a straight anthology horror series.

Final thoughts

As I said, there are many, many podcasts out there now with a very similar premise. Tiny Terrors however, wears its Magnus Archives badge with pride. Not only is it by Rusty Quill, and as I said, there are a few familiar voices, even Jonathan Sims makes an appearance doing a very good Garth Marenghi impression, intentional or not.

I’ll be honest, despite me praising Rusty Quill to everyone, not all their podcasts appeal to me. In fact I’ve heard trailers to some that I have deliberately avoided. I guess this is only to be expected. Despite having a high success rate entertaining this podcast addict, I suppose 100% is too much to expect. You really should check this one out as soon as you can.

You can get Tiny Terrors here:

https://rustyquill.com/show/tiny-terrors/

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

Where have you been all my life?

Curious Matter Anthology

Rating –

curious matter anthology logo

As any collector will tell you, the joy of collecting is the accumulation of your chosen items rather than getting any use from them. This is certainly true of my podcast list, which despite growing almost exponentially, never seems to get any shorter.

One of the casualties of this accumulation is the aforementioned podcast series. I have only just got around to listening to this one, and it has given me a sore leg from kicking myself for not getting into earlier. Hopefully my introductory ramblings have whet your appetites somewhat, so without further ado, here is my Curious Matter Anthology review.

So what’s it about?

Curious Matter Anthology really does what it says on the tin. Each episode (or in some cases series of episodes), is a dramatisation of a classic weird fiction or sci-fi story. Adapted by Jonathan Pezza and with a cast of talented voice actors, each story really comes to life in a way rarely experienced in podcastland.

The first two stories in the series followed the travails of Mr. Robert Blake, in stories by Robert Bloch and H.P. Lovecraft, then it was a deep dive into an epic tale by Phillip K Dick. With the remainder of episodes featuring stories by Kurt Vonnegut, Henry Kuttner and Andre Norton.

The adaptations (particularly the Lovecraftian ones) sit nicely between the readings by the HPLHS, and the recent BBC releases of The Lovecraft Investigations. In the introduction to the first episode, Mr. Pezza says that was enamored by the BBC radio play of Star Wars. This really comes across in episode 1, with the orchestral background music very reminiscent of the John Williams Star Wars score.

Is it any good?

It’s outstanding. It has deceptively high production values and (for the most part) the voice acting is top notch. It is a very immersive experience, and each adaptation is very well written. The sound effects are also very well produced and really add to the immersion. This is nice for a change. Some series add superfluous noises that can either distract the listener, or worse add a kind of aural “matte line” that shows the joins between the sound effects and the recorded actors.

This is a relatively short series of stories (so far). I appreciate that they started this show right around the time that COVID ground the world to a halt, but hopefully there will be many more episodes in the pipeline.

I should also say that on the whole, I havent really been a fan of podcasts by Realm. I’m glad that this one is an exception. I’m also glad I didn’t dismiss it out of hand either!

Final thoughts

I’m sorry that it’s taken so long to get to this series. For the most part I’m really enjoying it. I’ll be honest, Phillip K Dick isn’t really my cup of tea. I can appreciate his influence though, and thanks to the high quality of both the writing and recording, it’s not too much of a slog to get through.

It will be interesting to see which stories get the Curious Matter treatment next. Personally, I’d like more Lovecraftian ones, but I trust the CMA gang to produce brilliant audio drama whatever they choose.

You can get Curious Matter Anthology here:

https://curiousmatterpodcast.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Shadows At The Door review

Rating –

Shadows At The Door logo

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I’m a massive fan of David Ault. He’s a great voice talent who has the uncanny knack of cropping up in a diverse range of podcasts, but whose appearance is always a guarantee of quality. His deadpan delivery is instantly recognisable, and I’m not ashamed that whenever he crops up in a show, there’s a little part of me that goes “yes”. Apart from raising the standard of other people’s work (there is one podcast that springs to mind that got a whole extra “brain” in my ratings just because he was in it), he also has this series. Now that I’ve finished with the fawning, read on and I promise I’ll try to keep the hyperbole to a minimum.

So what’s it about?

Shadows At The Door is an anthology podcast of ghost stories and creepy fiction by David Ault and Mark Nixon. In fact, the first episode is a very Jamesian, and deliciously chilling ghost story written by Mark Nixon himself. This isn’t the only episode penned my Mr. Nixon, but it was a brilliant way to start proceedings.

Whilst I have already given Mr. Ault a good deal of wordcount already, I don’t want to leave Mark Nixon out. He has quite a body of work as a writer for the (now legendary) NoSleep podcast, and even appeared as M.R. James on The Writers Mythos. This is a podcast I must admit I hadn’t heard of before, but I’ve duly subscribed and will be checking out asap.

After the actual reading, Mark and David go back over the story and discuss the themes and influences. This places it in a rather similar vein to A Podcast To The Curious (although that particular show doesn’t feature a full reading of James’ stories). It’s also slightly more light-hearted than the more scholarly Podcast To The Curious. This is a chance to lighten the mood here, as the darkness of the stories gives way to wordplay and humour.

Talking of humour, most of the recent (albeit sparse) episodes have been “drunk stories” told at Halloween and Christmas etc. Hearing David Ault trying to tell a story after drinking an inordinate number of shots is surprisingly funny, and way more entertaining than the similar TV shows. I suspect his is because David and Mark are genuinely wittier than the panel show fodder who usually lend their names to such light entertainment dross.

Is it any good?

I like this show a lot. Recently it does seem to have gone rather quiet over there though, which is a shame. Although I’m sure that this podcast is far from the main source of income for these two, so I’ll just await each new episode like a child hoping to get a full size snickers in his trick or treat bucket.

The stories, while very much genre specific are varied enough to be engaging, and even though some of these are tales you will no doubt have heard many times, you really can’t beat a good storyteller to breathe new life into a well known yarn.

Final thoughts

If you’re a fan of classic ghost stories, or indeed modern stories written in a classic style then this is for you. David Ault is second to none as a voice actor, and Mark Nixon is a very talented writer. They make a great team, and apart from the lack of output by these two, there isn’t anything I can fault here.

You really need to check this podcast out as soon as you can.

You can get Shadows At The Door here:

https://shadowsatthedoor.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

This ol’ Blumhouse

Production company – Grim & Mild/ Blumhouse

Rating –

This was probably my first introduction to Aaron Mahnke podcasts when the first series came out two years ago. Almost immediately though, I also found Haunted Road, and realised that there were some pretty big shows in the Grim & Mild camp. Series two was last year, and season 3 is scheduled for this year. It’ll be interesting to see where they go. The title of this series is also apt for this time of year, so it gets slotted in nicely here.

So what’s it about?

13 Days Of Halloween is a horror anthology podcast, with each season being completely different to the last so I think to make life easier, I’ll break this up into two parts.

Season 1 is an Amicus style portmanteau story that sees a voiceless stranger (possibly meant to be you, the listener?) “You” arrive at the sprawling and spooky Hawthorne Manor. You are met at the gate by The Caretaker, played by the outstanding Keegan-Michael Key. A talented actor, you may recognise him from the sketch show Key and Peele, or from his film roles. The caretaker guides you round the house where you meet the residents. Each episode takes place in a different room. Are the people you meet there real, or ghosts, or figments of your imagination?

The story unfolds like a puzzle as the motivation of the caretaker becomes apparent. But what will be the outcome? The many threads of the present weave with the many elements of backstory to create a very expansive universe and a gripping story indeed.

Season 2 takes a different path. This is more like a regular horror series. The main character now has a voice, and the setting has changed (and expanded) to encompass a whole town. In this case, the wonderfully named Direbrook, a sleepy fishing village in New England.

This has more of a folk horror/Lovecraftian feel, the quaintness of the setting offset somewhat by the strange greetings used by the locals and the veiled warnings to the main character. I said this was more folk horror, and like Midommar or The Wicker man, you have a feeling early on that there will be a sinister climax to it all.

A nameless woman regains consciousness on a beach, and is found by an older woman and local, known as “Mother”. As the series progresses, this duo explore the town and amongst the standalone stories (as in series 1) are clues that reveal the identity and reason for the unnamed woman to be here. The Lovecraftian elements develop quite early on, with similarities to stories like The Shadow Over Insmouth, and even films like In The Mouth Of Madness.

Is it any good?

Season 1 was very good in its own way. As I said earlier, it is reminiscent of the 70s movies by Amicus, in particular it reminds me of the film Asylum. Keegan Michael-Key is his usual eccentric self, and seems to be channeling Tim Curry from Clue. This in itself is no bad thing, although it does grate a bit during the higher camp moments.

Season 2 is certainly bigger, although maybe not better. As I said, the protagonist now has a voice. This is something that seems a tad redundant, because she hardly ever says a word. As in season 1, the protagonist is guided through the story, this time by the mysterious “Mother”.

I’m currently listening to this season again, because despite finishing it relatively recently, I can’t actually remember anything about it past episode 2. I think that says a lot about this show, which is a shame.

Final thoughts

This is something of a mixed bag. Having the production clout of Blumhouse and Grim & Mild sets this head and shoulders above lower budget productions, but ultimately this is a show that leaves me wanting. On paper this should be my ultimate podcast, one that would have my “brain” rating increase to 6 or 7, but it misses the mark somehow.

Now that season 3 is almost halfway through, I’ll give it a go. Hopefully third time’s a charm.

You can get 13 days of Halloween here:

https://www.grimandmild.com/13days

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Buddha, Coulda, Shoulda

The Subjective Truth review

Production company – Good Pointe

Rating –

The Subjective Truth logo

I found this through the other Good Pointe show Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason. Honestly, I was expecting something similar. This was no light-hearted satire though, but a decidedly darker (though no less entertaining) drama. So join me as we head off in search of Buddha Kline.

So what’s it about?

Amateur treasure hunter team Buddha Kline and his wife Amy are on the trail of the legendary Fenn Treasure. They get split up and Amy makes it back, but Buddha has vanished.

The series follows podcaster and journalist Graham Anderson as she tracks the ever cooling case. She meets Buddha’s family and friends, and a whole cast of strange characters along the way.

Pretty soon the strange phenomena that seem to follow the legendary treasure and the town of Taos, New Mexico start to appear and things get very weird indeed.

Is it any good?

It’s great. Earlier on in the series, I was giving some serious thought to scoring it lower. I think it dropped to about a three brain rating at one point and it was in danger of making it on to my end of year “also ran” list. Ultimately, it ended up captivating me though. The acting isn’t great across the board, but really, that didn’t matter. It’s very easy to get fully absorbed into the story and any niggles are soon forgotten.

As I said in the intro, seeing as this is a Good Pointe podcast, I was expecting something else (this was rather presumptuous of me, I’ve only listened to one other of their shows). This series is more like the alternate reality mindf*ck of the excellent PRA shows Rabbits or Tanis. The world building is amazing, and the adverts are so well observed that they could easily exist.

As the series progresses, little nuggets of existing urban legends, folklore and creepypasta are thrown in. These are sometimes so subtle in the main story arc that it’s almost “blink and you’ll miss it”. I loved the inclusion of the Three Kings ritual and the Polybius arcade machine in particular, even though the latter was a touch reminiscent of the Rabbits podcast.

There are also later “bonus episodes” that fill out the mythos and give occasional comic relief (whether intentionally or not). Sorry, but the mattress phone call was funny no matter what you say!

This is also one podcast that could have carried the odd trigger warning here and there (I can’t believe I just wrote that), trigger warnings tend to bring me out in hives. The episode that dealt with the “reboots” in depth was heartbreaking. Coming from someone with skin thicker than a rhino with psoriasis, that’s really saying something.

There’s also some pathos here as the series reaches its climax. Graham’s past catches up with her somewhat and what she experiences is also rather harrowing, it’s also a great portrayal of how people in the public eye get treated (or so we’re told). It’s the sections like these that set it apart from the aforementioned PRA podcasts and set this one on a true path of its own.

Final thoughts

The problem with my listening habits is that because I’m working my day job and listening at the same time, I can miss certain details. That’s entirely my fault. This series is one that I’ll be returning to immediately for another run through. I think there’s a very important point I may have missed at the end that was a big twist. It won’t affect the score any. It can’t go higher than a five brain rating!

Are there better podcasts out there? Yes. But don’t let that put you off. This is an outstanding series I’ve come to love, and I’m almost ashamed of myself for almost writing it off after the first two episodes. Do yourself a favour and subscribe immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

You can get The Subjective Truth here:

https://thesubjectivetruth.libsyn.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Judging a book by its cover

Dark Woods review

Production company – Wolf Entertainment

Rating –

Dark Woods logo

This was another one of those series that cropped up thanks to the all knowing algorithms that run our lives now. To be honest, I subscribed based on the artwork alone. I’ve bought albums like that, I’ve bought books like that. Why not subscribe to podcasts like that too?

So what’s it about?

Dark Woods is a thrilling eight part drama set in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California. According to the intro, this is a fictionalised story based on real problems faced by the national parks in America. A chilling prospect indeed.

Fish And Game Warden Mark Ellis’ life is thrown into disarray after the disappearance and death of his young aide Chelsea Brewer. After going missing, her body is subsequently found by hikers  at the bottom of a ravine. Despite appearing to be an accident, and therefore an open and shut case, Mark launches an investigation.  After the autopsy it seems that she had been poisoned before she fell to her death.

Mark teams up with teacher’s assistant Miguel, a guy who has been charting the population of Fishers (a ferret-like animal) who has uncovered that these animals have also been poisoned. These two unlikely allies’ investigation contradicts police procedure and the two find themselves in a very serious situation indeed.

With all this going on, there is also the looming threat of a company wanting to buy large swathes of the park for mining. The town councillor is reluctant to go ahead with talks, but the townspeople are tempted by the prospect of money and jobs.

Is it any good?

It is outstanding. I listen to a lot of audio dramas, as my regular followers will know. Many such shows like to claim a “cinematic experience”. This one truly is though. The acting is OUTSTANDING. There really isn’t one weak link in the cast here. There is some genuine emotion in the story that is given real gravity by the cast.

While the characters themselves are nothing new, there’s the good guy on the brink of a breakdown, the plucky sidekick, the sneaky businessman and the sceptical police chief, they are all expertly played and nothing feels cheesy or clichéd.

Final thoughts

This series has quickly flown into my top 10 list for the year. Heck, it’s quite possibly in my all time top 10. I can’t really fault anything here. There’s no dodgy sound effects or wooden acting. The story is very well written and perfectly paced.

Eight 45 minute (or thereabouts) episodes seem to be the golden ratio for a drama podcast. Each episode is long enough that you don’t feel rushed, and the fact there’s only eight means that if you’re like me you can happily binge the whole thing in a day and not burn your ears (and concentration) out.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to start the whole series again.

You can get Dark woods here:

https://wolfentertainment.com/podcast/darkwoods/

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Creepypasta al Formaggio

We’re Not Meant To Know review

Rating –

We're Not Meant To Know logo

This is one that I discovered via various people I follow on twitter. This is something I really like about Twitter, the recommendations are usually more relevant than podcatcher algorithms. The premise sounded good, so on nothing more than that, I subscribed and crossed my fingers.

“But Mr. Podcastgeek” I hear you ask.

“Was it love at first play?”

Well, I’ll smile in that way that a parent does when a child asks something silly, ruffle your hair and ask if you’re sitting comfortably. Are you? Then I’ll begin.

So what’s it about?

Purely going off the title (as I did), you’d almost expect this to be a podcast about conspiracy theories and shady government shenanigans. If that is indeed what you’re expecting, then I’m afraid you might be rather disappointed.

We’re Not Meant To Know is a horror anthology series very much in the vein of Creepypasta stories and podcasts like The Wrong Station. The production is minimalist, with each story being narrated in the first person by the same husky voiced (and as yet unnamed) person. I guess that’s one of the things “we’re not meant to know”. Each episode is a standalone horror story, although there are certainly options to expand on some of these at a later date.

I must admit that as the first episode got underway, I was almost thinking they could be true stories. I’ve binged on podcasts like Radio Rental, so I tend not to be too dismissive about people’s actual experiences. As the series progresses and the stories become more outlandish though, there is no doubt that these are works of fiction.

Is it any good?

I really want to like this show, but I’m afraid I can’t. As you’ll be aware by now, I’m rather a sucker for minimalist horror told by sonorous narrators. This podcast though is almost a pastiche. The narrator has a slight gravelly tone to his voice that keeps making me want to clear my throat. I actually went from a binge of this show to a few episodes of A Voice From Darkness, and it seems that there’s a definite “inspiration” to the vocal style. Ultimately though, this series lacks the charm and the style of a show like AVFD, and the narrator is no Dr Malcolm Ryder which is a shame.

The stories themselves are well written, even if there’s nothing groundbreaking here. I’ve heard worse, a lot worse. Time will tell if I’ll carry on with this, or if it will just languish in my podcast list, the episode count growing ever higher.

Final thoughts

Over the course of this post, I’ve made comparisons to various podcasts, which some may feel is unfair. It is both like the podcasts I mentioned, and yet not really like them. These comparisons are made only to give you some idea of what to expect.

I don’t feel I can recommend this podcast when there are so many better options out there. It’s not terrible, but it’s really not great. Give it a go if you want though, I’m only human and far from infallible. You may like it and think me an idiot, you wouldn’t be the first.

You can get We’re not Meant to Know here:

https://wnmtkpod.libsyn.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Enter the echo chamber

Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason review

Production Company – Good Pointe

Rating –

Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A freemason logo

Due to my recent acknowledgement that I really need to be on Twitter more to try and  build some semblance of an audience, I have been on a real voyage of discovery with regards to new shows. I had got to the end of a rather mediocre series, when the first episode of this was previewed. Mainly due to the cast (who I shall get into later) I subscribed and started on this strange and hilarious journey.

So what’s it about?

Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason is a comedy show dealing with conspiracy theories and social media. It follows the adventure of two struggling flat earth YouTubers named Dunning and Kruger (yeah, yeah, I know), who decide that in order to stand out from the other flat earth YouTubers (who are gaining more views than them) they need to do something dramatic. Cue the premise of the show’s title.

Whilst I’m sure that certain sections of the conspiracy world are as silly and misguided as this series portrays, I’m not so sure if the Freemasons are. Although maybe they are. They wouldn’t say so either way would they?

The disappearance of one of their own throws the Freemasons into a panic, and the game is afoot to try to figure out just who would be audacious enough to do this, and recover their brother.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. The story is very well written, and silly without being inane. The production values are high, and the characters are (mostly) all well acted. Speaking of the cast, there is some stellar talent here:

David Ault needs no introduction on this blog. If you’ve read my previous reviews then you’ll know I have immense admiration for his work, and his mere inclusion in a podcast is usually enough to get me onboard.

Graham Rowat is brilliant as the Alex Jones-alike radio host Newsham. I recognised his voice instantly from his other work. He also played my all time favourite podcast character, Sir Henry Blackwood (a.k.a. SCP 1867. I highly suggest you search for this particular episode and give it a listen. You wont be disappointed)*.

Josh Rubino also deserves an honourable mention for turning Isaac Newton into Steven Toast. Whether intentional or not, it makes for a very entertaining interpretation.

The only real criticisms I have are that there are times when the background music is too intrusive. This is usually when the characters are listening to The Newsham Hour. I may be missing a joke here, I mean I am at work when I listen to this, so maybe I’ll go back through one more time. Also, there are a few of the voice actors who aren’t quite up to the level of the main characters.

These are really pretty criticisms really, and they are the only downsides to an otherwise perfect series. I think it shows the quality of the podcast that I’m really struggling to find fault with it.

Final thoughts

This is a great, genuinely funny show. It’s one that makes a refreshing change from the horror and drama, both fictional and real, that fills my ears for 8 hours a day. I think you’ll love this show, unless the characters are a bit too close to home. In that case I advise you to adjust your tinfoil hat and follow this podcast’s advice for negative reviews.

As I was searching for a copy of the logo to use, I see that this show has also been made into a TV show. This seems to be something of a trend nowadays, and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as the original. Truth be told, I was disappointed with the adaptation of Limetown.

I would also like to point out that whilst I am a fan of long titles (My old band had one of the longest album titles since Marc Bolan released his first album), this podcast has played havoc with my SEO settings. Do I use an acronym or not? I vote not. To hell with Google’s algorithms this time!

*The character of Sir Henry Blackwood was so beloved to me that I actually named one of my Call Of Cthulhu investigators after him. Although I brought him forward to the 1920s and made him a bit more “Terry Thomas”, the DNA was there though, and I’ll love the mad old sod forever.

You can get Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason here:

https://pod.link/1582700456

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

This seems to be another one of those podcasts that doesnt have a proper website. The above link is to listen, the production company and podcast site is here:

https://goodpointepodcasts.com/

In the Chambers of Lovecraft

Malevolent review

Production company – Rusty Quill

Rating –

Malevolent logo

Malevolent is a podcast whose reputation preceded it. I had heard good things from lots of places. Indeed, this review being written now is due to a Twitter thread where it was being widely praised. I figured I must have missed something. I’d listened to four episodes and, in the words of Shania Twain, it didn’t impress me much. So had I written it off too soon, or was I right in my hasty assumption? Read on and I’ll tell you.

So what’s it about?

Malevolent is a horror podcast that flies its Lovecraft flag with pride. The story follows Arkham P.I Arthur Lester who wakes up in his office with no memory of recent events and is unable to see. He can hear a mysterious voice though that appears to be coming from inside his head. This voice guides him, and so begins the adventure to discover not only what happened to Arthur, but what happened to “the voice” as well. This unlikely duo navigate as best they can to solve the mystery, without running afoul of the numerous enemies they encounter.

Speaking of enemies, there are plenty on display here. From distrustful police officers, spooky cultists and the more eldritch horrors of Lovecraft and Chambers, there are plenty of antagonists to try and hinder Arthur on his mission. It’s always fun to try and identify the creatures from the descriptions, playing a kind of mythos “Guess Who”

Is it any good?

Put it this way. It isn’t as bad as I first thought. I had let a few things colour my judgement, and I suspect I was being a bit fussy.

The voice acting is good, although the phase effect on “the voice” will never not be irritating. Even more impressive is that the whole thing is written, directed and performed by Harlan Guthrie. I was surprised at this because while there is obviously a limited cast I wouldn’t have guessed it was a solo effort. For the most part his accents and characterisations are spot on.

Likewise, the production values are reassuringly high. The sound effects are very good and help build tension well. The monster effects are excellent too. They sound original and exactly how I’d imagine an eldritch horror to sound, and the gurgling gore sounds are deliciously disgusting.

One of the things that first threw me (and still does), is that this is a cross between a written story and some kind of improvised roleplaying game. There are definitely points in the story where you can hear dice being rolled before clues or items get discovered.

***NOTE*** On looking at the website, it turns out that the patreon supporters got to vote on the outcome of the original shorter episodes. These got compiled into the longer ones that are released as the podcast.

It is almost literally like an RPG. Because Arthur can’t see, the voice is his eyes and has to describe the surroundings in the manner of a Games Master. This makes it seem like a cross between Call Of Cthulhu and vintage kids TV show Knightmare.

Final thoughts

Based on the first four episodes I had decided it was a one or two brain podcast. Against my better judgement, and some (imagined) peer pressure on Twitter, I have given it another go.

I’m still not too sure what the point is with having the disembodied voice other than to act as a vehicle for the “interactive” side of the concept. I wonder if it would have been as effective to just have a mysterious person be in the room when Arthur woke up. The main plot points would still have worked just fine with minimal work.  I’m sorry but I think there would have been a better effect than that weird phasing to give the impression of being in Arthur’s head.

Apart from the dice rolling aspect of this series, what ultimately held this back from getting a five brain score was the fact I didnt really like the main character much at all. Over the course of the series, he’s undergone great hardship and stress, and ultimately it bothered me not one bit. When Jonathan Sims realised his situation towards the end of his story, in fact anyone in T.M.A. it was genuinely emotional. Im not sure why, but there certainly were moments when I wished that Arthur would learn some respect for the things he was dealing with. Maybe its “character development”, but the way he starts to act , despite what he knows and has experienced should have had serious repercussions.

Despite my misgivings, and my own little “voice” saying to score it really low, I have to say that I’ve grown to like this series a lot. I could have binged the whole lot in two days, and the big twists make up for the things that I dislike. I still don’t feel that it’s a proper five brain show, but it has just squeaked into a four.

I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong.

You can get Malevolent here:

https://www.malevolent.ca/episodes/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Beware of the owl

Bridgewater review

Production company – Grim & Mild

Rating –

Bridgewater logo

I am currently revisiting this series after a long time. I’ve listened to so many podcasts in the meantime though, for the sake of this review I felt that a “refresher” was needed. Does this mean that the series isn’t memorable? Somewhat, but read on and I’ll explain in more detail (now that I can remember the story!)

So what’s it about?

Folklore lecturer Jeremy Bradshaw has built his reputation on depth of knowledge and extreme sceptical attitude. He teaches in his hometown, a sleepy backwater called Bridgewater. This is a place that has a somewhat notorious reputation though. The locals call it “The Bridgewater Triangle” owing to the number of strange phenomena and disappearances in the area. So I guess the term “sleepy backwater” isn’t such a good one eh?

During a lecture, one of the students starts asking about Jeremy’s father, the town sheriff, who had disappeared 30 years previously. Apparently a sheriff’s badge has recently been found in the area where he vanished, this is news to Jeremy who hasnt been informed of the discovery. Initially he suspects this to be some strange and cruel prank. When he sees the badge, it is like new, certainly not like something that should have been in a swamp for decades. And so the adventure begins.

As the clues are revealed and fitted together, they uncover strange pagan cults, ancient folklore, strange creatures and voices from beyond the grave. His friends either wittingly or unwittingly put themselves in great danger as they try to discover what really happened to his father all those years ago. As the story progresses, Jeremy has not only his faith, but his grip on reality tested.

Is it any good?

Yes. I listen to an awful lot of shows like this, that vary wildly in quality. Thankfully, this is one of the good ones. The voice acting is very good and the characters are all interesting and likeable (even the ones who aren’t supposed to be!)

The more eagle eared among you will recognise Vipin’s voice as that of Karan Soni, who also voices Jeet, the ever alert intern and superfan of Terry Carnation. Also appearing is Will Wheaton as (the quite frankly ridiculously named) Captain Haddock. I remember Wheaton as the fresh faced Wesley Crusher from Star Trek TNG. To be honest, if you didn’t tell me that he was in this I’d never have known.

Aside from the actors, this is a very good audio drama. It’s a nice twist on folk horror without trying too hard. The production values are high enough that there are no cringy sound effects or outdoor monologues that were obviously recorded indoors. Those things appear more often than you’d think and they are a real mood killer.

Some of the characters verge on the cliché. Not just Vipin who seems to be playing Jeet again, actually that should be the other way round, but I’m sure you understand. There is the skeptical lecturer with a dark past, the plucky assistant and the hard boiled ex-cop who has seen it all before. Despite this, they avoid scenery chewing too much and it won’t get in the way of your enjoyment too much (unlike the cast of The White Vault, for example).

Final thoughts

This is a good, solid audio drama. A good paranormal yarn set in the modern day with enough suspense to make sure you listen to “just one more”, before you realise you’ve binged the whole thing. Are there better shows out there? Of course, but there are a whole lot worse to be found. Not only that, but there are worse that regularly get recommended to people.

Do yourself a favour and subscribe. I think you’ll like it a lot.

You can find Bridgewater here:

https://www.grimandmild.com/bridgewater

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

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