The Silt Verses review
Production company – Rusty Quill
I usually have some idea of what I’m getting myself into when I subscribe to a podcast. It’ll be recommended by a friend, or I’ll hear an interview on another podcast. I went into this one completely blind. The name sounded interesting, but I honestly don’t remember hearing anything about it at all. This made for a rather interesting experience, and I’ll tell you all about it here.
So what’s it about?
The Silt Verses is a rather “folk horrory” series. At first it seems to be set in an indeterminate country in an indeterminate timeline. At a guess, it’s America at some point in an alternate present or future. I’m only guessing that because of the voice actors, and the fact that they have modern tech like mobile phones. These are details that are almost irrelevant though. The point of the story is the sheer weirdness of the events. There are strange religions, odd people and sinister antagonists. Did I mention strange religions? There are LOTS of strange religions.
The story follows pilgrim Carpenter and her young partner Faulkner. They follow the faith of The Trawlerman, a river god of water and silt. Carpenter’s grandmother was highly regarded in the faith, and Carpenter has that same ego so beloved of people who trace a lineage back to something important.
As their voyage continues they meet many allies and enemies. There are strange symbols carved everywhere, and horrific creatures lurking in places both magical and mundane.
The pagan ways of the populace are pitched against followers of The Saint Electric and similar deities, truly modern gods for the technological age. Everywhere they go they meet people who follow different gods, and there are gods of everything.
Is it any good?
On the whole, yes. There are a few niggles here and there that stop it being a true “five brainer”. My main problem is that whilst the acting is top notch on the whole, there are a few cast members who let the rest down. There are also parts of the story where it is obvious the cast were recording at different times, and on different equipment. You can hear the cuts in the audio and this really distracts, particularly on headphones.
As the first series progresses, I found myself enjoying the exposition episodes more than the main thread. Don’t get me wrong, the main story is great, but there’s only so much bickering I can take. I get it, the young one thinks the old one is out of touch and the old one thinks the young one is an idiot. That’s life. The backstories though are so brilliantly written, particularly Paige’s corporate history. That is like an episode of Black Mirror.
As I have said in past reviews, the term “Lovecraftian” gets bandied about a lot nowadays, and is a badge usually hung on anything that is a bit weird. I think this podcast truly is Lovecraftian though. The whole thing has a dreamlike quality that is simply delightful, due in part to the ambiguity of the setting. The only thing we have to go on as far as dating is that it takes place “after the last great religious war”. I also loved the episode about the god of hunger. That was a nice, ambiguous concept that offered a nice (albeit no less gruesome) contrast to the more physical horrors encountered in the story.
When I first started this review many months ago, it was a three brain show. At that point it was nothing more than a title and a rating. I recently revisited it to refresh my memory as to why I gave such a low rating and decided it was worth five brains. Taking everything into consideration though, it is a solid four.
If you like Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, or Charlie Brooker, then you will love this show.
You can get The Silt Verses here:
Or wherever you get your podcasts