Review: Lore

(Originally posted October 21, 2018)

Genre: Non-fiction, historical, folk lore, anthology
Possible Triggers: Descriptions of death, illness, human horror
Safe For Work: Yes
Content: PG

I’m Aaron Mahnke, and this is Lore.

General: Iconic words. Even if you’ve never listened to Lore, you know that introduction. It’s become one of those sayings, oddly, where everyone just knows what it means even if they have no idea what the context is.

Lore started in 2015 as a bi-weekly podcast, doing a deep dive into horrific historical events and examining them through the lens folklore, showcasing the dark side of humanity and what fear will drive a community to do.

What makes Lore scary is that the stories are all true. Mankhe examines the history of events, places, and people, detailing the effects they had at the time, and how the legends and stories persist even to this day.

One of the things, I think, that makes Lore so interesting is not only that it’s real, but that oftentimes you’ll recognize the places he’s talking about. There are no far-flung forests or forgotten islands in Lore, but rather real places that you can still see, or even your hometown. I, for example, hail from New England in the United States, which is often the center of many stories, as New England has some of the most diverse history. Specifically, I’m from Massachusetts, and I recognize a lot of the stories that are being told – Danvers State Hospital, The Bridgewater Triangle, the Dover Demon, and of course the various witch hunts. It’s always a nice little thrill to hear a town name I recognize.

It’s that touch that makes Lore more fun than some other podcasts, even the ones I’ve reviewed here. Not that the supernatural, impossible science, and small strange towns in the great American desert aren’t fun, but who doesn’t get that small jolt of “oh!” when they hear something they actually recognize on a podcast or on TV or in a book? There are stories from all over the world featured, all in recognizable places.

And it’s not just history – it’s supernatural/paranormal history, the kind they’ll never teach you about in school. Demon possessions, urban legends, mythical creatures. It’s about murderers and witch hunts and abandoned towns. It’s the side of history that’s fun for people who were bored during history class because there’s only so many times you can hear about George Washington crossing the Delaware before you fall asleep.

It’s the kind of history I wish I had been taught, because it’s interesting and, whether you believe in spirits or not, it’s real. Was a thirteen-year-old girl in Illinois really possessed? Who knows, but everyone around her believed she was, and it colored how they interacted with her and how she was treated overall. Were the people killed in witch hunts really witches? There’s no way to find out now, but everyone believed they were, and we learn about them as witch hunts and witch trials (everyone has heard of the Salem Witch Trials, haven’t they?). Are curses real? There’s no way to tell, but when a town is flooded twice within fifty years, the residents almost surely began to feel cursed.

Episodes are long enough to be detailed, but short enough to easily listen, if you happen to be cursed with a short attention span. And attention is truly required to get all the details, especially if it’s a story you’re interested in.

It’s almost a little too easy to fall into the trance of the show. Mahnke’s voice has been described as “coolly mesmeric”, and that’s a well-earned description. While the show is easily bingeable and safe for work, it’s not necessarily recommended that you listen to it while you work. I’ve fallen into the trance of getting too involved with the show and forgetting I’m supposed to be working one too many times. It’s incredible, easy listening, as long as you don’t have anything else to do in the mean time.

Lore is the part of history you’ll almost certainly never hear about in other places – what might be real, what might have been exaggerated over the years, what might be lurking in the shadows. The reaction of humanity to all those mights. How we process this information and what we do with it. People always look at stories like the witch hunts and think, “Oh, I would never react like that.” But you never know for sure unless you’re in that situation, do you?

How much do you know about the place you live? Check out Lore, and you might discover a completely different side of it.

And if you ever come face to face with those legends… what will you do?

LGBTQIA Friendly?: N/A

Pay to Listen?: No, but they accept donations.

Length: 15-45 minutes

Overall: In a world with an increasing amount of audio drama podcasts and special effects and complicated storylines, Lore has not only managed to maintain its simple format and style, but has also continued to flourish. It’s at the top of everyone’s recommended listening list if you like history, horror, or both. If you haven’t listened yet, then you must have been in a three-year hibernation. Welcome back to the world. I’m so glad my blog was the first thing you found upon looking at the internet to see what you’ve missed since 2015. Please feel free to continue perusing while you start listening to Lore.

Rating: 4.5/5