I Am In Eskew Drifts Along Like A Dream
I Am In Eskew doesn’t fit into the usual framework by which I’ve recently rated horror podcasts. The Magnus Archives became the benchmark of visceral cosmic horror and solid writing quality for all others to top. When deciding whether to recommend a horror podcast, how effectively it’ll scare is an important metric.
But I Am In Eskew doesn’t approach fear in the same manner. It’s a slow burn. Setting a mood, building tension, and saturating everything with unreality over pages of narration. The location of Eskew is an always-raining dream of a place, often described in emotional terms and with a level of sinisterness baked in. The monsters and the biggest moments of horror usually take a long time to occur fully.
And this is both to the podcast’s triumph and detriment. In short order, it becomes clear that mind-breaking sights, death, and monsters are typical enough for these characters for reactions to appear muted. We may flinch and recoil at some extreme gore and body horror, but the story shrugs it off. The jolt doesn’t hit as hard as expected, to an almost disappointing degree.
The Series Isn’t Focused On Producing Pure Terror
But this is beneficial because the tone never slipping into horror’s usual sensationalism has a compounding effect. The drum of the rain in the background and the slightly detached way the narrator describes matters bring about a sense of nihilism. It’s unmooring and poetic. The way the characters talk about ending up in Eskew, especially the main character, is like they’re describing a purgatory. A place with no end and no escape that kills randomly and sometimes without even active malice. It has things that can hurt, destroy, or warp people, and sometimes they do.
And this strange, almost perversely calm flow is achieved by some stellar writing. I called it detached earlier, but that’s not the whole of it. The narrator takes a lot of introspective asides. He’ll randomly allude to deep sadness without addressing it head-on. It has the same juxtaposition as documentation from a historical event. Like finding someone talking about a major war while it’s happening, but occasionally worrying about a friend visiting and what to have for tea the following morning. It’s shockingly naturalistic, and my descriptions don’t do it justice.
I Am In Eskew Has This Strangely Realistic Quality
On the flip side, this lilting, slowly unfurling, aside-sprinkled format is a little exhausting in high dosages. Each story feels complete, full in exploring its concepts and then some. But trying to listen to more than one in a row was difficult. It’s like watching multiple movies or reading books back-to-back. They function more like transitory tales, liminal mood pieces, better tapped into for a long car ride or for those capable of enjoying horror before bed.
More succinctly, I Am In Eskew is one of the more polarizing things I’ve reviewed. I think I like it a lot. I may never listen to it again. I Am In Eskew routinely does more with the cosmic horror genre than I’ve seen elsewhere. But the tone and slow pace might repel those looking for the jolt of a short story. The series isn’t for you if you don’t want to listen after episode one. I Am In Eskew marches to the beat of its own torrential rainfall and, if nothing else, I respect that.
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