Tag: Fiction (Page 1 of 4)

And the winner is!

Trophy pic

December 2nd marked the 1st anniversary of me launching this blog. In a rather preemptive strike on the traditional end of year lists that will invariably clog up all your timelines in a few weeks, I thought I’d get in with my rather unofficial awards celebrating the best (in my opinion) podcasts you can get. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the first annual podcastgeek awards ceremony!

Some shows I will have reviewed, and I’ll be adding links to the reviews where available. Others will be reviewed as soon as I get round to it. Each category will have a shortlist of five entries in no special order apart from how they spring to mind. At the end of each shortlist we will have the winners. I hope you have the patience to read all the way through. It shouldn’t take too long!

Now, there may well be some glaring omissions, especially if you’ve been following this blog for a while, but seeing as this will be an annual event, there is always next year, and I promise no series will win more than once.

The drinks are flowing here at the podcastgeek enormodome and the guests are waiting with baited breath to see who takes the gongs home. So without further ado, I’ll roll out the red carpet as the spotlights rake the night sky, put on my best bib and tucker and heap praise on a multitude of shows. DRUMROLL PLEASE!

Best fiction podcast

This was a tough one, because the entire shortlist is excellent, ultimately though, the result will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read my reviews.

The winner is THE MAGNUS ARCHIVES!

Magnus Archives Logo

Best true crime podcast

  • Hunting Warhead
  • The Lazarus Heist
  • Death In Ice Valley
  • Deep Cover
  • The World’s Greatest Con

Another tough one. Another 5 incredible shows, but there’s only one winner tonight. This podcast won just for the fact that there is some resolution to the crimes, and the fact that there are no real trigger warnings.

The winner is THE WORLD’S GREATEST CON!

World's Greatest Con logo

Best gaming/geek culture podcast

I had originally intended to spend a month or so only reviewing this rather niche area of the podcastverse, but I didn’t want to lose either of my regular subscribers, so I decided against it. Anyway, these are five very worthy podcasts, but for the sheer range of subject matter there can be only one (as the highlander would say).

The winner is HYPNOGORIA.

Hypnogoria Logo

Best science podcast

Originally I avoided science podcasts, thinking they would be stuffy and boring (despite having an interest in science). How wrong I was. The podcasts here are all very accessible and very entertaining.

The winner is BIG PICTURE SCIENCE.

Big Picture Science logo

Best comedy podcast

Over the years, I have listened to plenty of “comedy” podcasts that are as funny as standing on a plug. The shortlist here though are all very, very funny indeed. That said, in much the same way the The Magnus Archives was a rather predictable win, so is this. This one is a very sweary win “fae Dougie, Lee and John the dug”.

The winner is A SCOTTISH PODCAST.

A Scottish Podcast logo

Best paranormal/folklore podcast

I could have happily had four of Danny Robins’ podcasts and one other to make up the numbers, but that wouldn’t be fair, especially with so many interesting paranormal and folklore podcasts out there. The winner of this category really takes top spot, like hypnogoria, for the sheer breadth of subject matter. This really is a great series.

The winner is BONE AND SICKLE.

Bone And Sickle logo

Best factual podcast

Possibly the hardest category to judge, due to the catch-all nature of the title. Again, the shortlist entries are all worthy of your time, and I recommend you check them all out. The contrarian in me has decided though that it has to be heroic.

The winner is HOW TO BURN A MILLION QUID.

How To Burn A MIllion Quid logo

Phew, that’s a lot of podcasts isn’t it? And I’ve obviously done a load of listening. That is only a small selection of the podcasts that I’ve pumped into my brain over the last few years. If the best idea is to “write about what you know”, you can see why I started writing about podcasts can’t you?

“Ha! Mr podcastgeek” I hear you scoff. “Why don’t you get a life?”

In response I will click my fingers and out of the shadows a group of no-necked toughs in suits will have these hecklers ejected from the venue.

We have had some great shows mentioned this year, and despite missing out on a win, I really need to give an honourable mention to The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias. When I posted my review of that podcast, it had so many shares and comments, it is BY FAR the most popular post I’ve written. So thank you to all the Call Of Cthulhu and Chaosium fans who took the time to help grow my blog. It is greatly appreciated.

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

The Japanese Sandmen

The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias review

Rating –

good friends of jackson elias logo

For a lot of people, this will be something of a “marmite” review, but I’m an unashamed geek so you’ll just have to indulge me. I’ve been a fan of the roleplaying game “Call Of Cthulhu” since the mid 90’s. Despite that, the lack of a proper gaming group meant I’d only run a few games and that was 20 or so years ago. Call it a midlife crisis if you will, but a year or two back I decided I wanted to get back into it, but I had no idea really how to play anymore. I found this podcast as a recommendation on a Facebook group, and I took the trip to the Dreamlands to meet Scott, Matt and Paul.

So what’s it about

The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias is “a regular podcast about Call Of Cthulhu, horror films, and horror gaming in general”. Even the non Lovecraftian subjects usually end up being tied back into the game in one way or another. I mean, that is the subject of the podcast after all.

The hosts, Scott Dorward, Matt Sanderson and Paul Fricker all write for Chaosium, the company that produces Call Of Cthulhu (from here on out referred to as CoC to save my carpal tunnels), and really, if they don’t know something then it’s not really worth knowing.

Despite this, don’t for one moment think there’s nothing here to enjoy if you aren’t partial to rolling d100 for SAN. The episodes vary from CoC specifics to reviews of horror fiction and films or even tips for writing (for CoC, but easily transferred to other genres). This is truly a treasure trove (or more appropriately an arcane tome of forbidden knowledge) for anything horror related.

Is it any good?

This is easily the best Lovecraftian podcast out there, and not just if you’re into gaming. There is a wealth of knowledge here, and if you have a passing interest in the works of The Old Man Of Providence, then there’ll be something to enjoy. There are plenty of episodes (as I write this, they are on episode 282!) so feel free to pick and choose as you wish. Even if you have some aversion to numbered plastic polyhedra, then you will enjoy the film reviews, and the analyses of stories are in the vein of A Podcast To The Curious (and equally as good).

Final thoughts

It’s come a long way from recording in Paul’s shed and drinking white russians. At first the improvements were instantly noticeable. New mics made everything clearer (yes, I remember the campaigns for new mics, and the teething problems getting them to work!) Since then though, the podcast just seems to have spread its tentacles and inexorably slithered from the aforementioned shed to become the leading podcast in the field.

It’s hard to overstate how much this podcast has benefitted me over the years. Strangely in ways mostly unrelated to gaming. I’ve discovered new authors, new podcasts, films and music. Thanks to Scott, I’ve also started doing the October horror film challenge (currently my second year doing that). Watching one horror film a day for every day in October is a tough task, not because they are horror films, but because the object is to watch ones you haven’t seen before. I tend to save up recommendations over the year just for this challenge. Truth be told, it’s also why I’m posting this today.

This is one of my favourite podcasts, and I heartily recommend you subscribe immediately, or I’ll ask the guys to sing to you!

You can get The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias here:

https://blasphemoustomes.com

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 clich├ęd.

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.

Terror never sounded so good

Uncanny Japan review

Rating –

Uncanny Japan logo

I love folklore, and (as I have said before) living in Wales there is plenty on offer. Because of this, I am often drawn to the more mysterious style podcasts. Whether actual folklore or fiction inspired by folklore, I just can’t get enough. Maybe it’s because of my love of J-Horror or Anime, but Japanese folklore has captivated me for years. When I stumbled across Uncanny Japan I immediately subscribed and pressed play with baited breath.

So what’s it about?

Each episode, the host, Thersa Matsuura explores a different aspect of Japanese Folklore. Don’t expect to yawn through well trodden tales of the Kappa, Urei and Yokai so beloved of western audiences. This series also covers the lesser known traditions, festivals, and mythical beings said to lurk in the shady corners of the country. These episodes are what you could call “bitesize”. Most podcasts on folklore tend to run at one hour plus, so these 20 minute gems are very short in comparison. I think there have been a few even shorter!

The episode starts out with a brief introduction with the beautiful binaural recordings, and then Thersa starts telling the stories. Not all of these are discovered from ancient sources, although many are. There are some modern day cases that crop up too, and in the later episodes there are similar tales from all over the world. While this does technically leave the Japanese side of the stories, I don’t mind. All stories have a shared source, and drawing these parallels are great fun.

Is it any good?

Definitely. Thersa expertly covers so much ground in each relatively short episode, yet it never feels rushed. The fact that a 20 minute episode can feel much longer could be used as an insult for a review of a lesser show, but here it is absolutely a compliment. This is partly due to her amazing calm voice and the use of atmospheric recordings of her surroundings. The incessant piping of frogs or chirping of cicadas could be somewhat Lovecraftian in the bleak heaths of New England. Here though, it really brings her stories to life.

These sound effects coupled with Thersa’s soporific voice would lend itself to be the perfect sleep aid, although I can’t guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep from some of the content here! There are some very creepy tales indeed, and the thought of having some of these dark denizens of the Japanese countryside invade my dreams isn’t something I’d relish.

Final thoughts

This is one of those shows that you don’t have to be interested in the subject to enjoy. Thersa is a joy to listen to and her knowledge of her subject matter is immense. She has also published books of fiction based on Japanese folklore as well (we are occasionally treated to some excerpts of these on the show).

Where other folklore shows have fallen by the wayside, either through the podcast coming to an end, or me getting bored, this one has got real staying power and is always great to listen to. Do yourselves a favour and give this series a go. You can thank me later.

This is also one of two podcasts on Japanese folklore that I had subscribed to, and the only one I am still subscribed to. Truth be told, I only ever listened to two episodes of the other one and gave up on it. Thersa has set the benchmark for Japanese culture!

You can listen to Uncanny Japan here:

uncannyjapan.com

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

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