When I was little, my family used to camp in the Monongahela National Forest. My mom would cook over the fire, we hiked the local trails and enjoyed being out in the wilderness. We would also drive the 30 minutes to The Cranberry Glades.
The Glades are beautiful, but that isn’t what I enjoyed about going there. Being the geek that I am, I enjoyed the book selection. They had a really spectacular ghost story section, and everyone knows that camping and ghost stories go hand-in-hand. They had ones that were specific to West Virginia, and they had others that were just all around make-the-hair-on-your-neck-stand-up good reads. These books instilled in me a love for the creepy and unexplained and an appreciation for an excellent story teller.
Fast forward to 2016 and I don’t go camping as much as I would like, nor have I reached into the depths of my shelves and dusted off “The Telltale Lilac Bush” in ages. However, my appreciation for a creepy thrill mixed with a good story is still alive. Enter “Lore.”
I’m not sure how I happened upon the “Lore” podcast, but I’m glad I did. Quickly, I was reminded of all the things that I love about ghost stories. Now, “Lore” has stepped up the ghost story genre enough to entice and draw in even the harshest of critics to its digital campfire experience. You see, “Lore” doesn’t just focus on the supernatural. No, that would be too common and too easily dismissed. “Lore” seeks to remind its listeners that ‘sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.’
Written, produced and hosted by Aaron Mahnke, “Lore” explores fact, fiction and a little bit of everything in between. Each story features historical accounts from real people. These accounts may be a woman claiming to beat a winged beast off of her dog (New Jersey Devil, anyone?). Or, slightly more sinister and realistic, the man who swindled insurance agencies by creating a house specifically designed for murder and collecting on the life insurance.
Notably, one of the creepiest stories focuses on a bewitched doll by the name of Robert. Robert spends his time playing with his boy, eating at the dinner table and murdering people. The end of the story involves Robert and a kitchen knife. I won’t spoil that for you, but you should probably go listen.
“Lore” delivers these short stories in a manner that leads to binge listening. Listening to “Lore,” it’s all too easy to fall into the pattern of “just one more.” Listeners are treated to folklore that extends across the oceans, but will be delighted to find out about the hauntings and legends that reside in their own backyards. Each podcast offers insight into the human mind, and why we created and upheld these legends in the first place – and why we sometimes still do.
It would be a disservice to the podcast if I didn’t mention the tone and quality of Mahnke’s voice. The smooth, cool delivery of the lines will transport you quickly to being wrapped up in a blanket sitting by the campfire listening to him weave tales that leave you a little afraid to go into your tent alone. Undoubtedly, he is holding a flashlight under his chin and allowing the stray beams to dance off of the tree branches above. Maybe you saw something, maybe not.
“Lore” is available on iTunes and Google Play. This is a great podcast to start in October, but be sure to leave the lights on, you never know what’s lurking in the dark.